Spring Garden businesses brace for demolition, blasting

Demolition starts next week for a new project at the old Maritime Centre site

Ian Muncaster is worried about what construction will do to Doyle street, where his Gallery is located.
Ian Muncaster is worried about what construction will do to Doyle street, where his gallery is located.   Sindi Skenderi

Halifax will soon see another deep hole in the ground for the start of a new development, this time across from the central library on Spring Garden Road.

Westwood Developments is building a complex on the block contained by Spring Garden, Doyle, Brunswick and Queen streets. It will be seven storeys, with commercial units for rent on the bottom and a restaurant, apartments and condos above.

Demolition on the old building starts next week.

The block, pictured here with a birds-eye-view, will be demolished next week.
The block, pictured here with an overhead view, will be demolished next week.   Sindi Skenderi

Businesses in the area are bracing for what’s to come.

Ian Muncaster owns Zwicker’s Gallery, located across the street from the construction site. The gallery sells paintings and sculptures, and refurbishes older paintings and frames.

Muncaster worries how much of the street will be closed off because of the construction.

“Obviously, the heavy trucks and the heavy construction is going to be on this side rather than the Spring Garden Road side,” he says.

Noah Tye at the Halifax Folklore Centre, next to Zwickers Gallery, says real problems will come for the guitars he sells when they start blasting the site.

There are many guitars for sale that are hanging on nails from the walls and ceiling inside the Folklore centre on the corner of Doyle and Brunswick streets. Some of the more expensive instruments are around $15,000.

“If I have stuff hanging that suddenly drops it’s going to be somewhat devastating, considering anything that I have hanging in here is very expensive,” says Tye.

He says they felt vibrations during blasting for the Nova Centre, which is a few blocks away.

Noah Tye says some of his most expensive guitars are hanging, "The first thing that falls, I'll talk to somebody."
Noah Tye says some of his most expensive guitars are hanging, “The first thing that falls, I’ll talk to somebody.”   Sindi Skenderi

As part of the construction process for the Nova Centre, there was blasting twice a day Monday through Friday for the first few months of 2013.

Mike Campbell, owner of The Carleton Music Bar and Grill, says going through that was “unbelievably difficult.”

The Carleton is right across the street from the Nova Centre. Campbell says he really felt the vibrations from the blasting, especially since the tremors travel far through the bedrock Halifax is built on.

He doesn’t “wish this kind of shit on anybody.”

Soften the blow

Michael Haddad, leasing manager at Westwood Developments, says they plan to start blasting in mid-May as part of the plan to have three levels of underground parking.

The main problem will be if they need to jackhammer, which happens when there are tough materials such as pavement and concrete underneath, Haddad says.

He says the blasting will happen in, “a very controlled environment” and the company will let businesses know ahead of time.

“We don’t want to be the reason for any hardship [with businesses on the street] whatsoever so we’re going to be very sensitive to that side,” he says.

Haddad says they will send out notices to nearby businesses regarding parking and pedestrian traffic closer to the demolition date.

Tye just wants to get through it.

“It’s going to be a problem, just like the Nova Centre was for Argyle Street,” he says, “[but it] will probably be a good thing when it’s done.”

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