It wasn’t that long ago that Dooley’s was the marquee of barrington Street. I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing about the doom and gloom of our “hollowed-out core”, which is strewn with vacant lots and store fronts. This depiction, while colourful, does not in any way accurately reflect the current condition or the economic state of our downtown. Nor does it give any credit to all the good things that have occurred in our downtown over the past decade.
Yes, we have vacant storefronts, but most are vacant because they are being redeveloped or plan to be redeveloped in the very near future. And yes, there is turnover as some businesses just don’t survive, but that is not a problem unique to Downtown halifax. We have more great shops in our downtown than a decade ago and things will only improve in the coming years.
Is our downtown perfect? No. Can and should it be better? Yes. But put things into perspective: there is currently more development and redevelopment happening in downtown halifax than at any point over the past 20 years.The rumours of its demise are far from true.
New hotels, office buildings, a convention centre, residential and retail spaces are all being created – right now. Yes, office vacancy rates are up, but there is also more office being accounted for and any increase is temporary. The positive impact these developments will have will affect the downtown for decades and will be a catalyst for more businesses and people who move to downtown.
We do need more public infrastructure and beautification in our core, but make no mistake, private companies continue to invest in downtown and more will be coming. Downtown is convenient, has lots of amenities, and since 1749 has been the heart of halifax – suburbs be damned!