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Source: WM Fares

Mic Mac Mall wants to turn parking lot into “small town”, plans name change

By Scott Pettigrew Dec 13, 2022 | 3:42 PM

The owners of Mic Mac Mall want to rip up most of the mall’s parking lot and transform the property into a massive, mixed-use development.

Their plan would eventually see more than 2,000 residential units added to the property. Those units would be spread out among more than a dozen new buildings, some stretching as high as 36 storeys.

It would also see more than one million square feet of retail and commercial space added to the property, along with more than 6,000 parking stalls in a subterranean parking network.

10 phases of construction

W.M. Fares Architects submitted the plan to Halifax Regional Council on behalf of the property’s owner, Rank Inc. Rank is headed up by well-known developer Joe Ramia, who is also responsible for the Halifax Convention Centre.

His company bought the Mic Mac Mall and its associated properties last year.

Together, the six properties sit in what the city calls a “Future Growth Node.” The node allows the city and developers to work together through a special planning process to create a more deliberately planned community.

Rank and W.M. Fares’ plans are only the very beginning of an approval and building process that will take years, likely even a decade or more. The plans will almost certainly change during public consultation and council approval processes, but still provide a good idea of the overall scope of and philosophy behind the project.

According to a council report, the plans include seven 30-to-36-storey residential towers that would hold about 1,660 units of housing. Three of those towers would be built in the space where Chapters currently sits.

Additionally, there would be five nine-storey residential buildings with commercial space on the ground floor. The plans also call for a twelve-storey retirement facility and a major addition to the mall itself that includes parking, office space, and entertainment space.

The plan is to build all the additions and new buildings over 10 phases of construction, “spanning several years.”

Perfect place for more density

At council’s regular meeting on December 13, many councillors said they were excited by the project.

Coun. Sam Austin said the development as presented will essentially amount to “a small town” being built around the mall.

“It’s a big proposal but, you know what, the Centre Plan identified Mic Mac Mall as a place that it makes sense for this type of density,” Austin said. “What we’re talking about is filling in paved parking lot next to one of one of our busiest transit terminals.”

The property is close to major transportation routes, parks, and schools and was specifically identified by the city as a place for dense development.

Austin said he likes the W.M. Fares plan “as a starting point.” Now, the city and developer just need to figure out “exactly what [development] is going to look like on the property.”

That, of course, will mean lots of community consultation and visioning.

Austin’s biggest concern at the moment is that the developers keep public space in the front of their minds as they add a massive number of new people to a relatively small space.

New name coming for the mall

The mall’s owners also say they plan to use the massive construction project as an opportunity to rename the mall “into something more culturally appropriate.”

The W.M. Fares report says they are “still in the early stages” of that rebranding process but that they plan to conduct a series of polls, studies, and surveys to “derive acceptable branding that champions a sense of place and inclusivity.”

Until then, they will refer to the development as the “M District.”

Trevor Nichols is Huddle’s editor, based in Halifax. Send him your feedback and story ideas: nicholst@huddle.today.


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