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Second phase of Hall Street project gets loaded in the barrel

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 28th, 2016

The second phase of the multi-million dollar Hall Street project might still be in the development stage, but it won’t be staying there for long, says the city’s mayor.

Mayor Deb Kozak said the Hall Street “Stores to Shores Revitalization Project” — which began last year with phase one — is not considered complete until phase two is done, sometime within the next year.

“Phase two has to be completed,” she said. “It really exemplifies the vision of what we are trying to achieve, straight through to the waterfront; and it opens up that waterfront vista to the community.”

On Monday Rob Fershau, manager of MMM Group Limited, the consultant firm that designed phase one and will handle phase two, gave council an update on where the next phase was situated.

With an approved design from 2013 still in hand, Fershau said the second phase will connect the heart of the city’s downtown — Baker Street — to the waterfront, and open up the waterfront like never before.

“We are looking at this street as a catalyst for development, not only for the waterfront but for the downtown,” he said.

Although there are still a lot of utility upgrades that will have to happen in phase two, the real theme of the second phase is about creating a better pedestrian experience, Fershau explained.

Colin Innes, the city’s director of Public Works and Utilities, made no bones about the fact phase two will contain some extreme challenges, said Kozak.

“But it is well worth doing,” Kozak said.

If phase two was to move forward, the next steep would be to take it to a preliminary design level, and then to the public and stakeholders for consultation, then wrap up the final design and tender it out for construction.

From Lake to Front street

Fershau said from Lake Street to Front Street is very challenging. He said the block would have to be designed “in order to become a catalyst for future development.”

The curb will be “rolled” with angled parking (to respond to future redevelopment opportunities) and will use trees and hoarding to mask the northeast corner development site.

The yield lane width from Hall Street onto Front Street will be reduced, increasing the size of the pedestrian island.

The shores

The aim of the shores development is to reclaim the waterfront connection to the lake, expand the park and event areas.

“We really wanted to reclaim the waterfront and form a reconnection to the lake,” said Fershau. “The waterfront is beautiful but very challenging for a pedestrian to find.”

It will include a waterfront plaza, the major connection to waterfront walkway. Planting will be increased and plaza areas will still accommodate service vehicles.

The gazebo will be removed or relocated to improve site lines to wharf and terraced steps will be put into place leading down to the water.

There will also be a large public art feature located on the waterfront.

Front to Lakeside

The block would see improved sidewalk and boulevard treatment on both sides, and provide three metres of boulevard on the east side to allow for parallel parking if future redevelopment occurs to the lot line.

The CPR right-of-way would be maintained, but parking at the southwest corner would be removed. The intersection at Lakeside Drive would be “improved.”

The city is currently negotiating with Ministry of Highways on what can be done.

Stores to Shores

The overall vision of the project is to create two robust, vital and connected neighbourhoods; each defined by individual characteristics, yet more strongly linked together by better connections so that the energy of each contributes to the other.

The downtown will continue to function as the commercial core of the city. Additional development will emphasize mixed-use projects that add residents to the area.

The waterfront will be a mixed-use district with the most intensive forms of residential housing, commercial, light industrial, and water-oriented parks and activities.

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