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Development: How Bar Baron Gary Hurst Inspired ‘The Bloom’, North End’s Newest Rental Building

By Andrew Macdonald

Halifax’s latest rental apartment project to begin opening for occupancy is The Bloom, a 90-unit, nine-storey stunning design on Gottingen Street.

With work crews still toiling away on finishing the interior of some units, occupants began moving into the new rental in November.

The Bloom is the latest offering from second generation developers, Peter and Paul Metlej, and the stunning architectural structure was designed by Paul Skerry.

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Paul Skerry architectural rendering of the Bloom, a new rental with 90-units, but by Prinicipal Development siblings, the Metlej family. (The Bloom website)

But, the actual history of the Bloom involves downtown Halifax bar baron Gary Hurst, he of the famous Dome. Hearst owned the land at Gottingen, Almon and Bloomfield streets because it was the site of his popular North End Pub,

The pub, adjacent HMCS Stadacona,  burned down in the last decade, the result of a kitchen fire. Famous for its breakfasts — I used to go there Sunday mornings — there was always a lineup of people waiting for seats and tables.

Hurst intended to rebuild the pub – and so he began work on getting a development agreement in place for what has become the Bloom building. He hired ‘go to’ expert on development applications Ross Cantwell, who is also becoming a noted apartment developer and landlord, with 350 units in Metro Halifax, including the new rental Velo on Gottingen Street.

Hold Fast Cafe is located in the Bloom Apartment Building in Northend Halifax. The Notebook photo.

Before he became a leading barkeep, Hurst developed shopping malls in Truro and Bridgewater. His development story there is classic: He went to Toronto, taking lodging at the YMCA so he could knock on doors of giant retailers who had been headquartered on Bay Street. His perseverance paid off, and in the 1970s he nabbed Zellers as anchor tenants at his malls.

The Bloom is a new nine-storey 90-unit rental building on the corner of Gottingen and Bloomfield/Almon streets. The Notebook photo.

Hurst had every intention of building the Gottingen Street rental, and creating space for a new North End Pub. But, he had to litigate a protracted insurance fight with behemoth Lloyd’s of London, which has refused to pay out insurance for the pub fire.

At issue was a mistake made by his Hurst exec Edmund Raymond, who wrongly filled out an insurance application for the pub, ticking off a box that the pub building had a sprinkler system when it did not. And, even though an insurance rep paid a visit to inspect the pub, that agent did not pick up on the mistake.

The insurance lawsuit is still proceeding in the court system.

Millennial Ian MacLeod has opened his own coffee shop on the corner of Almon & Gottingen Street in the Bloom rental building. The Notebook photo.

After Ross Cantwell successfully got City Hall approvals to build the nine-storey Bloom, developers Peter and Paul Metlej made an offer to purchase the then vacant lands — and it was an offer that Hurst could not refuse.

Since the original development agreement contained space for a new North End Pub on the building’s front on Almon Street, the Metlej developers got approval to an amended agreement, allowing them to add more rental units on the Almon Street side where the pub had been proposed.

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