The Elmwood building survives, for now

New ownership is looking at options to protect the 112-year-old building in the south end

The historic Elmwood hotel was approved for demolition in November 2016.   Julia-Simone Rutgers

The Elmwood isn’t going anywhere for now.

Tony Metlej and Galaxy Properties have purchased the building on the corner of South and Barrington streets from Principal Developments and hope to perform some much needed renovations to the historic property.

But it’s not a sure thing.

“The city has to work with us,” Metlej said Friday. “We’ve already brought it up to them that we’d like to save the building if we can, but if not we’ll have to go back to the plans that are already approved.”

Originally built in 1826 as a one-and-a-half storey residence, the Elmwood was expanded and converted into a hotel in 1896. It’s currently being used as an apartment building.

In 2017, there was vocal opposition to Principal Development’s plans to tear down the old building and erect a six-storey mixed-use building in its place.

Metlej said he hopes to lift the building in order to repair a crumbling foundation. In order to offset those costs, Metlej wants to build an infill building between the Elmwood and the building next door that Galaxy also owns. He is also hoping to receive tax relief from the municipality for the project.

“If we can get some agreement from the municipality to work with us we’d like to take a shot at it and see if we can do it,” he said.

Coun. Waye Mason, who represents the area, used to live in the Elmwood and is “hugely excited to see it preserved.” He is in favour of the tax relief, but said a concrete policy is still in the works.

Mason considers the coming proposal a test run of historic building protection incentives that could be implemented across the municipality.

“The big thing is that this will help anchor that corner of the proposed heritage conservation district that should be proclaimed in the next six months or so,” he said. 

“It’s a huge example of how heritage renovation can be great. I have a lot of confidence and a lot of excitement in that family taking on this project.”

In October, the Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee passed a motion requesting a staff report on options to support the protection of heritage buildings in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The Elmwood sits in what will soon be declared the Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District.

It is not yet known when a proposal will come before council.