St. John the Baptist Church designated as heritage property

Developers plan to convert 1102 Purcells Cove Rd. into new gathering spaces for Armdale community by 2029

Halifax regional council has granted heritage status to a vacant 93-year-old church in Armdale that a developer plans to convert for community services.

Council unanimously approved the request for 1102 Purcells Cove Rd. to be recognized as a municipal heritage property under the Heritage Property Act on Tuesday. The area contains the former St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, which was erected in 1929, as well as its associated parochial school and an abutting lot.

Danny Chedrawe is the president of Anchor Group Limited, which owns the property as well as Regatta Point, the residential block that neighbours it. 

In his presentation to council on Tuesday, Chedrawe explained that Anchor Group’s goals are to restore the church and to provide services for the neighbourhood while developing the surrounding land.

“We’re going to convert the existing building after it’s renovated into community-based services, in terms of possible coffee shops, markets, fitness and all that,” he said.

The Halifax Regional Municipality’s website says the municipality and the province provide funding programs aimed at assisting heritage property owners in the maintenance of their buildings. With a registered heritage property, owners can also access free conservation advice and on-site consultation from heritage staff.

“It’s going to require a lot of money to bring it back closest to its original state,” Chedrawe said. “Through the heritage process, it gives us the ability and the flexibility to go through the development route a lot quicker and easier than if it was through a non-heritage, so that also brings benefit.”

According to the staff report recommending the church’s heritage status, the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth announced the closure of the church in September 2021 before selling the property to Anchor Group in February 2022, which won with a bid.

“We recognize from being in that neighbourhood for over 30 years the importance this particular building has played to the community for almost 100,” said Chedrawe, noting the spiritual and architectural significance of the building.

Coun. Shawn Cleary, who represents the Armdale area, moved the motion to register the property. He noted the importance of preserving the building and thinks its adaptive reuse can make the site an asset to his community for as long as possible.

“The vision I’ve seen so far is a good one,” Cleary said. 

1102 Purcells Cove Road, the site of the former church, is lodged in between residential properties.   Audrey Chan

Rob Elford, the pastor of Stella Maris Parish, which includes Armdale, is also in favour of the proposed developments.

“The community of Armdale has a very high opinion of Anchor Group, and I wish them every success in their future plans for their property,” he told The Signal in an email.

Chedrawe said the project will take three years from start to finish and that he wants developments to start as soon as possible. 

David Paterson, a planner with FBM, told council on Tuesday that he’ll be submitting an application on Chedrawe’s behalf to build multi-unit housing on the property.

Chedrawe wants to have the development agreement in place by this time next year. He said that upon its approval, Anchor Group’s next steps are to start detailed drawings and plans so construction can begin in 2025.

“We want to be able to celebrate its 100 years in 2029,” Chedrawe said.

Audrey Chan

Audrey (they/them) is a journalism student at the University of King's College. They have a background in Contemporary Studies and Cinema & Media Studies.

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