Downtown Halifax’s worst kept secret is out — a new convention centre is set to be built on Argyle Street.

Premier Rodney MacDonald and HRM Mayor Peter Kelly unveiled the Nova Centre on Monday, to be built on the site of the old Halifax Herald building.

The new building will be three times the size of the World Trade and Convention Centre at 150,000 square feet, and will include a new 400 to 500 room hotel plus retail space.

 

“(The WTCC) has served our city and this province very well. But this is not 1984 and the needs of conventions, the technology and expectations of our participants, are very different,” MacDonald said. “By standing still we are falling behind.”

In the last two years, 60 international conferences passed up Halifax because there wasn’t enough convention room, a loss of 45,000 people and $63 million to the economy, MacDonald said.

The new centre is expected to cost about $300 million, but a lot remains unknown. MacDonald and Kelly couldn’t confirm how much would be chipped in by each government. It’s also not known what will happen to the WTCC.

However, Kelly and MacDonald announced a projected opening date of anuary 2013 for the new centre.

“Our downtown will be revitalized,” Kelly said. “Today we are pleased to say that the latest HRM development, the Nova Centre, could have shovels in the ground as early as July.”

Consulting firm Deloitte is undertaking a study on the most efficient way to build the centre. It’s expected Rank Group will submit a formal proposal to develop the new facility.

The current WTCC has only one large ballroom and tops out at conventions of 800 to 1,000 people.

The new centre can hold groups up to 2,200, while simultaneously holding smaller gatherings of 500 to 600 people.

Potential expansion space could be built in for future growth.

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