Real estate company Westwood Group has launched two major projects in Halifax, with a strong retail component to them, as the firm develops a total of about one million square feet of overall buildable space.
The two mixed-use projects consist of the Richmond Yards and The Mills and are a testament to the locally-based company’s confidence in the market and in Halifax.
“Bricks and mortar is back,” said Michael Haddad, Asset Manager with the Westwood Group.
Haddad said the company has been in business since 1989. It started in the residential and multi-residential sector but eventually added mixed-use projects to its portfolio.
“Most of our concentration is in Halifax,” said Haddad.
Richmond Yards is a development at the corner of Robie and Almon Street consisting of 4.5 acres of land with a mix of residential uses from townhouses to live/work spaces to 25,000 square feet of amenity space and office space. All the ground floor is retail for the development.
“The north end of Halifax has seen quite a bit of growth over the past couple of years but in most recent times with this project coming online we’re really providing a community or a district for people where they can come and shop and live all within the Richmond Yards area,” he said.
“What we’re seeing with our experience in the retail world is access is a big part of development these days. So we have three penetrations through the site . We didn’t over-densify the site to get as many units as we possibly can but we really focus on the experience and the lifestyle that individuals would have within this development.”
The first building will have occupancy for February 2023. Retail will come on the site for August 2023. The overall project has concentrated retail at the ground level with a 6,000-square-foot spa and salon as an anchor. There’s also a restaurant district planned for the site with three to five establishments. Occupancy is slated for mid 2024.
The project will have about 750 residential rental units from studio apartments to two-bedroom plus dens – 400 square feet to 1,500 square feet. There will be six buildings eventually on the site with completion of the project.
There will be about 60,000 square feet of ground level retail with about eight to 12 businesses.
Haddad likens The Mills project on Spring Garden Road to the high fashion streets of Bloor and Queen in downtown Toronto. The project consists of about 22,000 square feet of ground floor retail.
It’s located directly across the street from The Doyle, another mixed-use development the company finished about three years ago. It is also located across from the city’s Central Library.
Haddad said The Mills, encompassing eight storeys, will include 216 residential apartment rentals above the ground floor retail. The project has secured a luxury retail jeweller for the retail space. Total retail space will include eight to 12 businesses and the overall project is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024. Commercial occupancy is expected in the third or fourth quarter of 2023.
Mathew Houston, Associate Vice President with commercial real estate firm CBRE, is marketing and helping the Westwood Group lease retail space in both projects – Richmond Yards and The Mills.
“Spring Garden Road is the busiest pedestrian street in Atlantic Canada. It’s kind of our central hub for downtown for shopping and cafes. It’s a high foot traffic street,” said Houston.
“It’s been interesting developing on Spring Garden Road because the demand for retail on the street is quite exciting to see,” said Haddad. “We’re developing smaller size retail space to accommodate sort of what we believe the market is.”