Downtown project moves closer

Darrell Cole
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Planning committee approves 40-unit complex

This property, vacant since a fire in late August, is moving closer to becoming the site of a new 40-unit apartment complex.

AMHERST – A plan to redevelop the former site of the Victorian Arms Apartments has passed another hurdle.

Alex Filimon plans to build a 40-unit apartment complex to replace the Windsor and Black Block buildings that were destroyed by a major fire in downtown Amherst in late August.

Earlier this week, the project, that could have a value of more than $4 million, was approved by the town’s planning advisory committee and will go to town council for ratification later this month.

“It’s very good news, it seems there’s a lot of interest and support for the project,” Filimon said Wednesday. “It was a very positive meeting with a lot of good feedback.”

Filimon said concerns were raised by the planning advisory committee about parking for the building’s tenants. The developer said he is working with town officials on this issue and believes there is sufficient parking the vicinity to address this concern.

The Halifax developer said he is continuing to work to obtain financing for the project and doesn’t see it as being an obstacle, although he repeated his concern that arranging financing for housing in rural Nova Scotia is much more difficult than in Halifax.

As he prepares to move forward, Filimon said there are three things he wants to have addressed before he begins construction. He wants to overcome issues relating to the demolition of the remnants of the former structure after the fire, he wants to have a lease in place for the groundfloor retail space and wants to work with neighbour Jeff Bembridge to fully develop both his building and the expansion to Duncan’s Pub.

“I met Jeff for the first time the other night and we had a great conversation,” Filimon said. “I believe we can work together to fully develop both of our properties.”

Filimon said he has been asked if there is need for another large apartment complex. He said he believes in the project and the need for affordable housing. He said he wouldn’t be redeveloping the site if he didn’t believe it would be successful.

Organizations: Victorian Arms Apartments

Geographic location: AMHERST, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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