Housing

Bloomfield project needs private partner, province says

The province is looking to offset risk to taxpayers by partnering with business

The Bloomfield development will feature housing units of different prices and sizes, as well as commercial spaces.
The Bloomfield development will feature housing units of different prices and sizes, as well as commercial spaces.   Sara Ericsson

The province is trying to kickstart the Bloomfield housing project by looking for a business partner.

The government announced Monday that it will issue a request for expressions of interest for potential partners.

Stephan Richard, director of Community Relations and Public Affairs at Housing Nova Scotia, said the project has been in discussion for a long time, and that the government is now ready to move onto planning and development.

“We know there is a need for affordable housing in Nova Scotia, particularly in Halifax,” he said.

The estimated cost of the project is $100 million.

The project was initiated by the non-profit group Imagine Bloomfield. After eight years of planning, the group partnered with the city and announced they were looking for redevelopment proposals from the private sector.

The bid was awarded that same year to Housing Nova Scotia. Imagine Bloomfield has since parted ways with the department, arguing the project has taken too long and is at a standstill.

Development plans

Richard said the province wants to partner with the private sector to not only benefit from its knowledge and expertise but to also reduce risks to taxpayers by moderating project costs.

He said Bloomfield would include smaller, more energy-efficient homes at affordable prices.

Richard said other cities such as Toronto serve as examples of how communities segregated by home prices have a negative social impact on residents living in and around them.

To avoid this, Bloomfield has been designed as mixed-income housing. Units will range in price and size so they appeal to a mix of people and families. The buildings will also be mixed-use, with commercial units on the first floors.

The original plans called for 479 units to be constructed. The province hopes to begin building in 2017.

Richard said the government has had preliminary discussions with businesses about affordable housing in general, but that they will wait to see what they think about this specific project.

“We know there is an interest,” he said. “But we don’t know if there is an interest in Bloomfield.”