Coming off the Highway 102 at Exit 2C, motorists immediately plunge into a swirl of lights and signs.
It’s been four years since this Larry Uteck Boulevard/Highway 102 Interchange opened. Now off the Bicentennial, Larry Uteck—named for the CFL all-star, Saint Mary’s University athletics director and former HRM deputy mayor—is full of retailers and services on either side—household needs, food, shopping and fitness, banking, and medical and veterinary care.
While Sobeys has been there since 2011, new businesses are frequently setting up on Peakview Way, Dellridge Lane and Nine Mile Drive off Larry Uteck, like the Second Cup last December, McDonald’s, Spa Chapelle and the Bank of Montreal this past spring, and BOOMburger in early summer. A handful of spots are still available to lease through such companies as Crombie REIT, Boris Holdings and CBRE.
While developments in Bedford South—the area Larry Uteck crosses over, between the Highway 102 and the Bedford Highway—may seem to have come out of the woodwork, the area was carefully planned.
Not long after the four municipalities amalgamated in 1996, HRM Planning Services Senior Planner, Paul Morgan wrote a report that recommended HRM do some master planning. Previously, the emphasis had been on planning one subdivision at a time. Morgan thought they needed to be “seeing the big picture.”
“In 1997 or 1998, we identified some areas to work on, like Bedford South, to plan the infrastructure, the design and what services were needed,” Morgan says. “During that time we had a citizens committee that talked and negotiated with the property owners to come up with a plan.”
The master plan for Bedford South/Wentworth was approved by Council in 2002. Senior vice-president and general manager of Clayton Developments, Michael Hanusiak explains three major landowners own most of the 303 hectares outlined in the master plan: Clayton Developments and Cresco have properties in Bedford South and Emscote Ltd. has lands in the Wentworth portion.
“Clayton Developments has been the principal developer of approximately 135 of the 202 hectares in the Ravines of Bedford South,” Hanusiak says. Clayton began constructing roads and streets and getting lots ready for residential, commercial and institutional buildings there back in 2003.
The Ravines are nearly complete, but even the last year has been a busy one for Bedford South. “Three new streets have been developed this year,” says Hanusiak. “Armenia Drive, which is a series of single family dwellings and townhouses; Fairwinds Place, which is a cluster of bungalow townhouses; and early this summer, we opened Nine Mile Drive, which connects the Ravines of Bedford South with the Ocean View Drive development, and there’s a series of townhouses on that street.”
Cresco, in addition to developing its own Bedford South lands, has been Clayton’s lead builder for their properties in the Ravines.
Cresco co-owner, Taleb Abidali marvels at the changes over the last decade. “I remember 10 years ago, I was walking with my business partner Hossein [Mousavi] where Southgate Drive is now, and we couldn’t see anything except trees,” he recalls. “Now when I go and drive, I just feel happy. I see the kids on the playground jumping and playing…The Ravines are a beautiful project.”
One of Cresco’s recent projects in the Ravines is their series of “modernized bungalow style townhouses” located on Armenia Drive/Fairwinds Place, each offering 2,600 square feet of living space. Cresco also built 70 William Borrett Terrace, the QEII Home Lottery grand prize home worth $1.2 million.
About 22 per cent of the Bedford South area is parkland or open space, adds Hanusiak. “And where we’ve had to take down trees to builds roads and streets and houses, there’s been a significant tree planting program,” he says.
In addition to businesses, services and green space, Bedford South also has two francophone schools right on Larry Uteck, Ecole Beaubassin and Ecole Secondaire d’Halifax. The area is also serviced by Halifax Transit.
While the Ravines are 95 per cent complete, Cresco still has some phases to finish. For example, on Starboard Drive behind the Sobeys at Hemlock Square, they are developing land for two new apartment buildings, next to Starboard Place, the six-floor building they already completed.
On the other side of Starboard Drive, Shannex Corporation has approximately 12 hectares of land, which they’ve begun clearing for an approved seniors community, Hanusiak says. Emscote also continues to develop Wentworth Estates.
When finished, 8,000 to 10,000 people will be living in Bedford South, states Morgan.
“We’re really pleased with the end result of Bedford South,” says Hanusiak. “It’s a wonderful master planned community. There is a very strong emphasis on walkability, transit, integrated mixed use…and the reports that we get back from area residents say they’re very pleased.”
Clayton and Cresco continue working together as partners in West Bedford Holdings Limited to create the “city within the city.” Development of the Parks of West Bedford began in 2008, two years after HRM Council approved the Bedford West Master Plan.
Bedford West’s Stonington Park, off the Hammonds Plains Road, is already completed with around 350 homes, apartment buildings, parks, the new CP Allen High School, the Northwood Centre and the West Bedford Business Park.
“So now, Clayton and Cresco are going to be developing two new areas in The Parks of West Bedford, Cascades Park and Waterberry Park,” Hanusiak says. “Those two areas have been into construction since late winter and our intention is to see the first homes under construction in both areas later this fall.”
According to Morgan, when Bedford West is completed, over the next one to two decades, its population could be up to 20,000 or even 30,000.
While Bedford South and Bedford West have been the focus of developments in the area, Morgan says a future site for planning and development exists on the north side of Hammonds Plains. “We also see some opportunities for redevelopment on the Bedford Highway down by the Sunnyside Mall area for intensification and some mixed residential and commercial spaces to make it an even more complete community,” he says. “With Bedford communities, we’ve done quite a lot of planning, but want to continue to improve services even further, and hopefully there will be more improvements to come.”