Thiel family planning to invest more in vibrant downtown Halifax core


unveils Lydon Lynch design for 500,000sf mixed-use, LEED® Platinum city block 

“22nd Commerce Square” increases downtown residential density & Class A office space,

hosts boutique hotel & public atrium while preserving historic bank building

HALIFAX (September 24, 2013) – Downtown Halifax property owners and developers, the Thiel family, today unveiled plans that will transform a downtown city block into a boutique hotel, condominiums, restaurant, office, retail, and public spaces with underground parking – all unified by an ambitious mobius-strip-inspired ribbon wall that meanders its way through the development, bringing together each component under a single architectural identity.

The 500,000 square-foot, twin-tower development will span the area bounded by Granville, George, Hollis and Duke streets in the heart of downtown Halifax.


See images:

High resolution architect renderings:

(credit: Lydon Lynch Architects)

“My family and I feel an obligation to do something exceptional and long-lasting for Halifax with this large property – an entire downtown city block – and we believe that Lydon Lynch has done just that with this beautiful, twin-tower design,” said Wolfgang Thiel, president of Robin Halifax Holdings Ltd., the Thiel family-owned company that owns the current Royal Bank Tower and the block on which it stands.

The name, 22nd Commerce Square, hearkens back to the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the original name of the block’s historic Merrill Lynch Building, built in 1906, a precursor to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The “22nd” reference is a nod to the next century and the Thiels’ commitment to creating lasting, exceptional buildings of enduring quality, design aesthetic and long-term value.

“Great architecture is the result of great clients, and the Thiels’ commitment to high-quality, legacy developments has motivated all of us to raise our game,” said lead architect Eugene Pieczonka, a principal at Halifax-based Lydon Lynch.

The 500,000 square-foot development will feature:

  • A proposed 96-suite boutique hotel
  • A 3,000 sq.ft. central, public atrium that includes street-level plazas, and allows pedestrians to connect with the development and each other – an all-too-rare societal benefit among downtown buildings in Halifax today.
  • A restaurant and small conference centre in a restored Bank of Commerce Building (the building will not be demolished but restored and celebrated as an intact example of Greek Classic Revival architecture – inside and out)
  • 88 condominium units that add significantly to Halifax’s downtown residential density. Pieczonka agrees with noted American urban studies theorist, Richard Florida, that density is a key characteristic of healthy, vibrant cities worldwide:


Density is a key factor in both the growth of cities, the happiness of cities, and the wealth of nations. And cities and regions where density is more concentrated near their urban cores — appear to gain the biggest economic advantage.

Richard Florida, Cities With Denser Cores Do Better in, November 28, 2012 

  • 200,000 square feet of Class A Smart office space that will encourage businesses to stay in, or move back to, Halifax’s downtown core
  • Street level retail opportunities along Granville, Duke and Hollis streets
  • Underground parking for 300 vehicles to encourage businesses, individuals and visitors to choose downtown Halifax, and hotel and condo valet parking will incorporate Halifax’s first vehicle-stacking technology system that safely maximizes parking density

Goal: LEED®[1] Platinum Core and Shell certification

As the LEED® Gold certification has risen to become the standard expectation for new building construction in markets around the world, the Platinum designation is the highest LEED® rating achievable.

As part of their commitment to a vibrant downtown Halifax, the Thiel family is investing significantly to ensure 22nd Commerce Square achieves LEED® Platinum (Core and Shell) certification so it will deliver some of the highest energy, environmental and social benefits available to its occupants and the surrounding downtown Halifax community.

“In addition to our ambitious design objective, our goal of securing LEED Platinum Core and Shell certification will see us reduce the entire block’s environmental footprint while increasing downtown density and creating healthier living and working environments,” added Pieczonka.

When complete, 22nd Commerce Square will incorporate many environmental and energy-saving features and their corresponding benefits that will make rents very competitive:

·     High-performance, high-efficiency, low-emission mechanical systems to reduce 22nd Commerce Square’s operating costs including:

–      Geothermal heating and cooling

–      A heat-recovery system that draws energy from sewage waste

–      Photovoltaic panels on the hotel facade to generate electricity

–      Solar hot water panels on the roof

–      Rain water collection system to reduce the building’s demand on the city water supply, and serve such non-potable uses as toilets, landscape irrigation and the cooling tower

·     Office tower raised-floor technology will distribute accessible power, data and ventilation services under floors rather than in ceilings, allowing better climate control and creating more-flexible, adaptable spaces

Preparing the site: preservation and demolition

The entire block will be vacated and the Royal Bank building and some others will be demolished completely. The block currently houses five buildings that are registered as “heritage” under the Municipal Registry of Heritage Properties: the Bank of Commerce, Hayes Insurance, Merchant’s Bank of Canada, Champlain and Flinn buildings.

The main Bank of Commerce Building will be retained intact and efforts will be made to retain the main banking hall’s delicate interior finishes. The bank’s lower extension façade will also be retained. The interiors of the remaining four buildings will be demolished with their facades stabilized, restored and incorporated into the new development as part of the block’s overall streetscape design.

The redevelopment will celebrate the block’s architectural past and future:

·     A historic preservation consultant has been retained to assess the condition of heritage building facades and propose how each can be preserved during demolition and construction and restored

·     The delicate, glazed, white-terra-cotta tiles on the façade of the Merchant’s Bank of Canada Building on Granville Street will be fully restored including significant replacement due to deterioration

·     Inspired by the Merchant’s Bank of Canada Building’s terra-cotta-tile exterior, Lydon Lynch will use new white-glazed tiles to sheath the development’s signature folding wall

·     The Champlain Building will regain its original, large, street-level arched windows and receive a new corner entrance at Duke and Hollis streets – a good idea that was originally proposed in 1911, but never implemented.

Possible project timeline:

Halifax Regional Municipality site plan approval:                    end of 2013

Drawings for construction:                                                    2014

Demolition, excavation:                                                        2015

Construction:                                                                       2015-2018

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About the Thiel family and Robin Halifax Holdings Ltd.

Originally from the German city of Trier, the Thiel family has diverse economic interests in Nova Scotia such as forest management, beverage production (, and several iconic commercial buildings in downtown Halifax including the current Royal Bank Tower, the BMO Tower, and the TD Centre. Robin Halifax Holdings Limited is a Thiel-family company that owns the current Royal Bank Tower and the block on which it stands. The family’s vision is to develop these holdings to their full potential. Wolfgang Thiel heads various Thiel-family-owned subsidiaries in Halifax, and is overseeing projects such as the TD Centre expansion and renovation, and the 22nd Commerce Square development.

For more information on the 22nd Commerce Square development, please visit .

Media contact:Michael Dunn, Dunn & Associates902-422-6014 (W)902-229-5378 (M) Leasing contact:Chris Andrea, Compass Commercial Realty902.454.9232 (W)902.456.5722 (M)


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