Halifax Then and Now – Today and Tomorrow #Development #Halifax

I thought I would end off my Then and Now series with a look at the past and a hopeful glimpse into the future of change and development in Halifax. I have probably mentioned this before but the growth and change within cities reminds me of the changes that happen in every person, and each relationship. We either grow personally or stagnate, and usually the support of those around us helps influence either end result. Cities like people need a family of strong supporters, people to have faith and take risks to assist in the development and growth that is needed for a city to evolve and embrace the future.

I will still post some then and now photos as I find an interesting shots that inspire me, but I feel the need to focus on the present and the future for the next sequence of posts. The other day I was wandering and listening to my iPhone playlist as I often do and listened to a song I find hauntingly beautiful for some reason. It focuses on the past and is a good track to get the post started.


As I was growing up in Dartmouth my Dad used to tell me stories about buildings that once graced the Downtown core of Old Dartmouth. There was an old railway bridge that went over the water in what is now the duck pond. A store on the corner and many long lost shops that once flourished in the centre of the city. An old mill where the Banook Canoe club was and ice used to be delivered by horse drawn carriages for peoples ice boxes. This was in the late 1940’s and 50’s, so much has changed in the last 60 years. Down the road from the house that he grew up in was an old school that stood hauntingly empty but I always found rather beautiful, Greenvale School.


Greenvale School – Now The Lofts at Greenvale

One of my favourite local historic architects was a man named Andrew Cobb. He designed a number of homes across the city, they are a craftsman style and feature beautiful wood work throughout the interior. They are reminiscent of the home in the 1990’s Horror Movie, The People Under the Stairs. Besides residential buildings he designed a number of University buildings across Dalhouse, Kings College, Acadia and Mount Allison. In addition to the old Neptune Theatre, originally named the Strand Theatre.

Greenvale School was built in 1915 and interestingly enough my Aunt went to school there when she was a child. For years it stood empty and decayed until a few years ago a local developer converted it into Loft Conversion Apartment, the Lofts at Greenvale. The original style was quite well maintained and an addition that matches the original building quite well was added to the building. I have to give the developer credit for taking the time and spending the money to resuse and restore a beautiful example of our urban history.

Greenvale School
Greenvale School Before the Restoration and Conversion to Loft Spaces.
Greenvale School after Loft Conversion
Greenvale School – Now the Lofts at Greenvale after restoration.

Though I am a huge proponent of urban growth I believe Halifax does a very bad job at protecting important historical buildings. Real estate investors buy up old building and neglect them until they have the excuse that resoring them would be too costly. There are cases when it is too expensive and won’t work financially but I have a problem when they are allowed to deteriorate.

Victoria Apartments, Hollis and Morris Street – Now Vic Suites

Before the brightly coloured apartment building on Hollis Street came into being it was a much older apartment building that had a long history of artistic residents, was a hotel, a boarding house and according to Spacing Atlantic a rumoured brothel. By the time I had the chance to enjoy wandering past this building it was long past its prime but I used to look at it fondly and imagined it as an old railway hotel from a bygone era.

Morris and Hollis
The old Victoria Apartment building on Hollis and Morris Street.
Vic Suites
This is the view of Vic Suites. I love the ground floor restaurant and it is a nice building but do miss the old building.

I have always loved record stores, growing up it was a place you could wander, escape and lust after the latest album. This brings us to one of my old favourites, Sam The Record Man on Barrington Street.

Sam the Record Man, Barrington Street – Now Barrington Espace Building

The large brightly coloured sign and flourescent record spinning as you entered the store, along with multiple levels to explore made you feel like you were venturing into a very special place. It wasn’t just the new releases that attracted me but also the older hard to find albums and more obscure stuff from abroad. Sadly like most record stores in the city it closed down in 2007, I returned to Halifax after a few years away to find it sitting empty. The building it once occupied has since been expanded and restored. I still miss the bright signs and the levels of music but I am very hopeful that Barrington Street on the cusp of positive change.

Sam The Record Man
The old Sam the Record Man on Barrington Street before it closed.
Espace, Barrington Street, Halifax
The new Espace Building on Barrington Street.

As I stop writing and realize it is probably getting too long for many to digest I am going to switch up things and shorten the descriptions for each section. There is currently a lot of activity in the city, development wise. Below are some of the completed projects, all make me hopeful for the future, some allow me to feel nostalgic for the past.

Then and Now – Downtown Halifax on the Edge of Change

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There are many more memories I could explore looking at what is the same, what has changed and what defines my memories of Halifax. Now I shall switch gears and end the series off with a look at the now and the near future of Downtown Halifax. As I think back on my fond reflections of the past I think it is time to start looking at forward to some of the changes coming to the city. Like memories that shape our personal experiences and help us become who we are, it is where we decide to go. The person we decide to become that really shape our future. Sometimes this path is taken internally, sometimes helped shaped by chance encounters with personalities that never realize their impact. The same goes for the growth of cities, neighbourhoods and our communities. The personalities, businesses and ambition of our citizens shape the future growth of a city. Some of the new developments below I am happy to see taking shape, others perhaps not, but some of these changes will shape Halifax in the years to come.

Now and in the Near Future – Will We Recognize Halifax in Five Years Time

IMG_1563
The former location of Night Magic, recently closed, along with Taz Records. Soon to be an 8 story apartment building with a restored facade.

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