CBC site up for grabs in YMCA plan
Agencies team up for $22m proposal to build new Y
By Bill Power, Staff Reporter
The Chronicle Herald
Demolition of the downtown CBC Radio building is on the table as part of a proposed $22-million replacement of the South Park YMCA, opposite the Halifax Public Gardens.
The YMCA and CBC/Radio-Canada have teamed up to prepare a development proposal for their properties. They are hunting for a third participant — a private developer — to get involved.
“Our plan (is) to bring in a third party interested in commercial, retail and hotel possibilities of the properties, and to use some of the income from this aspect of the project to reduce our capital costs,” Bette Watson-Borg, YMCA president and CEO, said in an interview Saturday.
The YMCA has studied options for the 60-year-old South Park location for about four years. They have concluded the best move is to demolish it and start again, with something more suitable for the Halifax peninsula.
Halifax has been lucky that the area’s universities have opened up their recreational facilities to the public at large, but “there is a huge need for a facility focused on the requirements of the non-university community,” said Ms. Watson-Borg.
Details are far from final, but the project involves a significant re-development of the area south of the Citadel National Historic Park, at the convergence of South Park and Sackville streets and Bell Road.
The future of the CBC/Radio-Canada broadcasting operation is unclear. The broadcaster has talked of departing the location in the past, but last year a CBC official said there was no rush to consolidate radio operations with the CBC-TV building a short distance away on Bell Road.
CBC has about 200 television, radio and French services staff at the two locations.
A website put up by the YMCA clearly indicates its new complex will be where the CBC Radio building now sits.
Officials with the CBC were unavailable Saturday for comment.
A new South Street YMCA would cost about $22 million. It would include features such as a rooftop atrium, new aquatics complex and upwards of 375 underground parking spaces.
And if the YMCA has dawdled about in the past with talk of replacing the South Street complex, things are happening quickly this time.
“We have entered into a partnership with the CBC and fully expect to have a joint development submission before Halifax Regional Municipality this summer,” Ms. Watson-Borg said.
The president and CEO said the submission would have been submitted a year ago, except the YMCA was waiting for the completion of the HRMbyDesign plan, which was approved by the city in June 2009.