Battery Hotel for sale; development potential cited

Alisha Morrissey
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Real Estate

An international real estate agency is marketing one of this city's best-known hotels as a "premier development site."

The Colliers International listing is promoting the Battery Hotel and Suites as "The Village on Signal Hill." The four-page PDF listing - available on the company's website - asks for $15 million for the property and shows a mockup with multiple buildings that could be employed as office space, apartments, condominiums or for hotel use.

The text describes the site as an ideal location for a corporate campus with potential for a casino in an area with "very flexible zoning."

The Battery Hotel overlooks scenic St. John's harbour. - Telegram file photo

An international real estate agency is marketing one of this city's best-known hotels as a "premier development site."

The Colliers International listing is promoting the Battery Hotel and Suites as "The Village on Signal Hill." The four-page PDF listing - available on the company's website - asks for $15 million for the property and shows a mockup with multiple buildings that could be employed as office space, apartments, condominiums or for hotel use.

The text describes the site as an ideal location for a corporate campus with potential for a casino in an area with "very flexible zoning."

Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff says the listing was brought to the weekly development meeting by staff, who discovered it on the Internet. It was looked at as a matter of interest and only took up a few minutes, she says, pointing out that it wasn't a proposed project.

While development can happen at the site, she says, anyone who buys it will have to be cognizant of the sensitivity of the area, that it borders a national historic site and affects public views.

"They can develop on that site. ... Obviously it's got a hotel on it now, I think the big issue there is that it is in a very sensitive area and it has to be dealt with very sensitively in terms of any design or anything that goes on that site.

"They have a ways to go but they have not approached the city at all," Duff says.

The real estate company Colliers didn't return calls to The Telegram before deadline.

The owner of the hotel, Rick Butler, bought it in 2006 and had intended to develop it himself.

But debate kicked into high gear almost immediately as the California entrepreneur, was quoted in The Telegram on his plans to tear down the existing hotel and replace it with a 200-room, 10-storey hotel and condo building.

Area residents fought the potential $30-million development, submitting a petition opposing the project with 1,400 signatures on it.

Council had already exempted the building from the Battery building guidelines, however, and with the right proposal, Butler would have had the right to build up to 10 storeys on the site.

Council was considering a text amendment at the time that would allow for a structure occupying 78 per cent of the 4.5-acre site on Signal Hill Road. The zoning allows for 50 per cent occupation of the site.

Council eventually deferred the text amendment until Butler submitted plans for the site.

Nothing ever happened.

Coun. Bruce Tilley was also at the development meeting and says he didn't pay much attention to the information, as it wasn't something immediately on council's plate. But Tilley did describe the mockup as misleading, adding any work done on the site will have to come before council.

"That particular property has been up for sale a number of times and nothing has happened," Tilley says, adding anyone interested in buying would likely look at the real potential for development.

"I do think people realize it is a truly sensitive area and that the design that replaces the Battery Hotel is going to have to be done very carefully," Duff says.

"People do care tremendously about Signal Hill. It is one of the iconic places in our city and I think people have a right to expect that anyone who wants to develop on Signal Hill would have to be respectful of that place."

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Battery Hotel, Colliers International

Geographic location: California, Signal Hill Road

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Recent comments

  • sue
    April 18, 2012 - 22:48

    Yes i think this hotel need to be replaced with a new one, i stayed there and it is filthy , In my room there was dust on the floor, spills not cleaned up from the previous quest, tiles in the shower are dirty, tv remote did not work, tv channels were very unclear and unable to view. And the manager did not return none of my emails.

  • Beverly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    This hotel property was recently listed by Conde Naste as the DIRTIEST hotel in North America.

    Signal Hill is perhaps the one place that every visitor to St. John's is determined to see.

    Perhaps it's time to get past the wishes of the 1400 people who signed the petition and get on with progress.

    If JRS was still in power, he would just move them around the bay and call it resettlement.

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Premier development site? With the likes of Peg Norman and Greg Malone pulling Shannie's strings fo her? Yeah, good luck with that.

  • John Smith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    No Development ever in this city, that is unless the city is on the hook for ten million dollars, and it has a street level parking garage facing historic water street, what an embarrasment this council is.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    My Brother David Grouchy was the GM of the battery when it was such a great place. It needs to be replaced with a beautiful new property and employ more folks and give the visitors a quality hotel/resort for the area. David passed away last year and he loved the battery dearly, but even he thought things needed to change.

  • LOTTE
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    I have to agree with John Smith....the council...what a disgrace. We have people who are willing and TRYING to invest and 'update' the face of Signal Hill...yet they have already acknowledged there will be road blocks...

    Does it make sense for any investor to invest in St. Johns???? truly...are they taking on more than they can handle...?

    Why wouldn't council save everyone the aggrevation....with the listings available for sale...they should add their TO DO AND NOT TO DO LIST so that buyers are fully aware of how lame the council really is....

  • willy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Any sensible development brought before the current Council will follow the same route as the Fortis proposal, flushed in the harbour.

  • St.John's citizen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Boarded up buildings: Former CBC, Former Telephone building, 4 sisters, former woolworths's, other 'poorly' maintained buildings, large empty lot west of Delta parking lot was supposed to be developed by Johnson's but the city added a little too much red tape,........... please help add to this list.....

  • Jordan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Currently The Batter is an ugly embaressment.

    This could be such a great oppertunity for the city to have a great landmark building on this site. Something like a hotel/condo building with a revolving restaurant looking over the city. There's so much potential for the site hopefully they don't screw it up.

  • St.John's citizen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Agreed, the current city council seems to essentially be against development, due to a few delapitated old 'historic' buildings. If they want to help the economy they could at least make suggestions to potential developers as to how make something work (and if they have, the media reports seem to suggest that proposals are flatly denied and that's it), and maybe then some forward momentum can be gained on major commercial development. Anecdotally, speaking with a commercial business operator with locations across several cities in the Atlantic provinces, he exclaimed to me in conversation that St.John's is the most difficult location to do construction. He compared to Halifax, Moncton, and St.John NB to name a few. We need a changing of the guard at city hall, in the same light we've seen a changing of the guard in NL's major employers, namely oil and gas. I do vote in city elections, and maybe we need to generate more voter turn out to rid ourselves of Shannie and the rest of the old delapitated buildings in this city which are ruining my view. Weighing in with my 2 cents......

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The Battery holds so many memories for us all, the jewel of St. John's..... Let's hope someone purchases the property and takes a little more pride in it. The current state of that property inside and out is an absolute disgrace! Council should take this into consideration.

  • sean
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Oh well,I smell old Shannie Duff and her trusty sidekick,Malone. getting ready way in advance to stop any potential developments for Signal Hill and the Battery Hotel.They're already getting their old musty knickers in a wad over what may happen up on the Hill in the future!Old Shannie the fossil has fired her warning shots way in advance this time.

    Just like Fortis, don't even think about building something progressive on Signal Hill!Duff,Malone and the Jacks that dress like Jills and smell like Johns,the Hippie crowd, will be all over it like stink on you know what!

    I guess the poor overtaxed people of St.John's will just have to wait till all the Duffs and Malones crank to see real progress for your faire city!By that time every other medium sized city in Canada will already be 20 yrs ahead of you.What sorry Jackasses

  • coda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    The council are a bunch of hypocrites. They just recently turned down a proposal for a 5 unit two story development, but yet were willing to give the owner of this property the right to build up 10 storeys?

    The City Hall has lost all my respect. They are too proper and driving me insane with their outdated views. Time to move forward, not subject St. John's with regressive behaviour.

  • John Smith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    It's so funny to hear anyone speaking about replacing the councillors, some who have been there for 20 plus years,because we just had an election. You remember, when the morons down at the bunker paraded around telling us there would be no increase due to the mill rate, then as soon as they got in they jacked it up, and hit us with a 50 dollar water rate increase just for good measure. The Colberts, the Duffs the O'keef's, the names we see again and again, and we will see again next time and the time after that. Every year it's the same old thing, we need new blood, we need new faces. Then the old guard go out to the old age homes, and make sure they get in for another four years. Take a look at this councill, then take a look at past councills...for the most part it is the same people, making sure that their taxpayer funded second and third pensions, that they don't pay a cent into, are fully topped up. So, let's not hear any more about fresh faces, or any new blood, cause it will never happen...this is a career for these guys...a career where you get paid to do nothing.

  • Gordon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    If JRS was still in power, he would just move them around the bay and call it resettlement.

    We've progressed since then. Thank God!!!

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Beverly from New Westminster, British Columbia, is quite correct. We stayed at The Battery in 2008. Our so-called suite was just a large room with torn curtains, outdated and unclean bathroom, with an indifferent staff seemingly unconcerned about the comfort of the hotel's guests. The hallway carpets were simply a disgrace. The only positive thing about the place is the harbour view from the dining room.

    Just to survive the ordeal, we pretended we were camping!

  • Michael
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    If Duff and her ilk have their way, it will be boarded up like so many other buildings in the downtown area. This woman, and those following her example, need to be voted out in the next election so reasonable development can be started in downtown St. John's.

  • steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    The hyperbole in the comment section here is out of this world. Michael, why don't you start listing off the boarded up buildings for us. The few that are there, such as the Woolworth's Building, already have development proposals on the table. Shannie and other heritage advocates, on the other hand, have played a huge role in seen numerous buildings downtown redeveloped and restored, which were previously boarded up. You can go up and down Water and Duckworth, not to mention the entire residential area of downtown, which has benefitted enormously from strong support from Shannie and others who have championed heritage investment. A study was done several years ago called the Downtown Strategy which analyzed the multi-millions of dollars in property tax income and employment income which has been generated through the increased value of real estate, both commercial and residential, in the downtown.

  • Mike Scott
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    There was a pretition presented with approximately 1400 signatures on it, that were not in favour of building a new structure at the site of the battery. I wonder how many signatures the developer could have got in favour of his propsal. I'm thinking it would be much more than 1400. People in NL have to realize that this is not the 1800's anymore, and to proceed in the modern world we need to upgrade our buildings and facilities. Every time that someone proposes to modernize a property, it gets shot down by historians. For the sake of Newfoundland and its people, it's time to modernize downtown St.John's.

  • joseph
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I agree with Mike Scott!,Time to move on!,There was a time the natives had to walk down to the beach which is now the waterfront,It's called progress people!!

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    If I were the owner of this building, I would be concerned that a potential buyer/investor would find out just how much red tape and nonsense would be involved to do anyhting with the existing building.

    Any developement of this property would have to pass scrutiny of councillors Duff, O'leary and Galgay, the rubber boot lobbiest's and finally the community NIMBY's.

    If I were a potential buyer for this property, and discouvered just how much effort it would take to do anything with it, I would walk away fast and far.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Something needs to happen on the Battery Hotel site. This property is a complete dive. The only thing it has going to the view. The rooms are outdated and the food is below par. It is time for change on Signal Hill. A developer needs to tear it down and build it up to something people would expect of such a site.

  • Sparkey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Hi; before anyone looks at buying anything in St.Johns,NL they should first get a team of lawyers ,to be able to put new windows & doors on the new property that they are looking at investing into.

  • Beverly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    This hotel property was recently listed by Conde Naste as the DIRTIEST hotel in North America.

    Signal Hill is perhaps the one place that every visitor to St. John's is determined to see.

    Perhaps it's time to get past the wishes of the 1400 people who signed the petition and get on with progress.

    If JRS was still in power, he would just move them around the bay and call it resettlement.

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Premier development site? With the likes of Peg Norman and Greg Malone pulling Shannie's strings fo her? Yeah, good luck with that.

  • John Smith
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    No Development ever in this city, that is unless the city is on the hook for ten million dollars, and it has a street level parking garage facing historic water street, what an embarrasment this council is.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    My Brother David Grouchy was the GM of the battery when it was such a great place. It needs to be replaced with a beautiful new property and employ more folks and give the visitors a quality hotel/resort for the area. David passed away last year and he loved the battery dearly, but even he thought things needed to change.

  • LOTTE
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I have to agree with John Smith....the council...what a disgrace. We have people who are willing and TRYING to invest and 'update' the face of Signal Hill...yet they have already acknowledged there will be road blocks...

    Does it make sense for any investor to invest in St. Johns???? truly...are they taking on more than they can handle...?

    Why wouldn't council save everyone the aggrevation....with the listings available for sale...they should add their TO DO AND NOT TO DO LIST so that buyers are fully aware of how lame the council really is....

  • willy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Any sensible development brought before the current Council will follow the same route as the Fortis proposal, flushed in the harbour.

  • St.John's citizen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Boarded up buildings: Former CBC, Former Telephone building, 4 sisters, former woolworths's, other 'poorly' maintained buildings, large empty lot west of Delta parking lot was supposed to be developed by Johnson's but the city added a little too much red tape,........... please help add to this list.....

  • Jordan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Currently The Batter is an ugly embaressment.

    This could be such a great oppertunity for the city to have a great landmark building on this site. Something like a hotel/condo building with a revolving restaurant looking over the city. There's so much potential for the site hopefully they don't screw it up.

  • St.John's citizen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Agreed, the current city council seems to essentially be against development, due to a few delapitated old 'historic' buildings. If they want to help the economy they could at least make suggestions to potential developers as to how make something work (and if they have, the media reports seem to suggest that proposals are flatly denied and that's it), and maybe then some forward momentum can be gained on major commercial development. Anecdotally, speaking with a commercial business operator with locations across several cities in the Atlantic provinces, he exclaimed to me in conversation that St.John's is the most difficult location to do construction. He compared to Halifax, Moncton, and St.John NB to name a few. We need a changing of the guard at city hall, in the same light we've seen a changing of the guard in NL's major employers, namely oil and gas. I do vote in city elections, and maybe we need to generate more voter turn out to rid ourselves of Shannie and the rest of the old delapitated buildings in this city which are ruining my view. Weighing in with my 2 cents......

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    The Battery holds so many memories for us all, the jewel of St. John's..... Let's hope someone purchases the property and takes a little more pride in it. The current state of that property inside and out is an absolute disgrace! Council should take this into consideration.

  • sean
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Oh well,I smell old Shannie Duff and her trusty sidekick,Malone. getting ready way in advance to stop any potential developments for Signal Hill and the Battery Hotel.They're already getting their old musty knickers in a wad over what may happen up on the Hill in the future!Old Shannie the fossil has fired her warning shots way in advance this time.

    Just like Fortis, don't even think about building something progressive on Signal Hill!Duff,Malone and the Jacks that dress like Jills and smell like Johns,the Hippie crowd, will be all over it like stink on you know what!

    I guess the poor overtaxed people of St.John's will just have to wait till all the Duffs and Malones crank to see real progress for your faire city!By that time every other medium sized city in Canada will already be 20 yrs ahead of you.What sorry Jackasses

  • coda
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    The council are a bunch of hypocrites. They just recently turned down a proposal for a 5 unit two story development, but yet were willing to give the owner of this property the right to build up 10 storeys?

    The City Hall has lost all my respect. They are too proper and driving me insane with their outdated views. Time to move forward, not subject St. John's with regressive behaviour.

  • John Smith
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    It's so funny to hear anyone speaking about replacing the councillors, some who have been there for 20 plus years,because we just had an election. You remember, when the morons down at the bunker paraded around telling us there would be no increase due to the mill rate, then as soon as they got in they jacked it up, and hit us with a 50 dollar water rate increase just for good measure. The Colberts, the Duffs the O'keef's, the names we see again and again, and we will see again next time and the time after that. Every year it's the same old thing, we need new blood, we need new faces. Then the old guard go out to the old age homes, and make sure they get in for another four years. Take a look at this councill, then take a look at past councills...for the most part it is the same people, making sure that their taxpayer funded second and third pensions, that they don't pay a cent into, are fully topped up. So, let's not hear any more about fresh faces, or any new blood, cause it will never happen...this is a career for these guys...a career where you get paid to do nothing.

  • Gordon
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    If JRS was still in power, he would just move them around the bay and call it resettlement.

    We've progressed since then. Thank God!!!

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Beverly from New Westminster, British Columbia, is quite correct. We stayed at The Battery in 2008. Our so-called suite was just a large room with torn curtains, outdated and unclean bathroom, with an indifferent staff seemingly unconcerned about the comfort of the hotel's guests. The hallway carpets were simply a disgrace. The only positive thing about the place is the harbour view from the dining room.

    Just to survive the ordeal, we pretended we were camping!

  • Michael
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    If Duff and her ilk have their way, it will be boarded up like so many other buildings in the downtown area. This woman, and those following her example, need to be voted out in the next election so reasonable development can be started in downtown St. John's.

  • steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    The hyperbole in the comment section here is out of this world. Michael, why don't you start listing off the boarded up buildings for us. The few that are there, such as the Woolworth's Building, already have development proposals on the table. Shannie and other heritage advocates, on the other hand, have played a huge role in seen numerous buildings downtown redeveloped and restored, which were previously boarded up. You can go up and down Water and Duckworth, not to mention the entire residential area of downtown, which has benefitted enormously from strong support from Shannie and others who have championed heritage investment. A study was done several years ago called the Downtown Strategy which analyzed the multi-millions of dollars in property tax income and employment income which has been generated through the increased value of real estate, both commercial and residential, in the downtown.

  • Mike Scott
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    There was a pretition presented with approximately 1400 signatures on it, that were not in favour of building a new structure at the site of the battery. I wonder how many signatures the developer could have got in favour of his propsal. I'm thinking it would be much more than 1400. People in NL have to realize that this is not the 1800's anymore, and to proceed in the modern world we need to upgrade our buildings and facilities. Every time that someone proposes to modernize a property, it gets shot down by historians. For the sake of Newfoundland and its people, it's time to modernize downtown St.John's.

  • joseph
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I agree with Mike Scott!,Time to move on!,There was a time the natives had to walk down to the beach which is now the waterfront,It's called progress people!!

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    If I were the owner of this building, I would be concerned that a potential buyer/investor would find out just how much red tape and nonsense would be involved to do anyhting with the existing building.

    Any developement of this property would have to pass scrutiny of councillors Duff, O'leary and Galgay, the rubber boot lobbiest's and finally the community NIMBY's.

    If I were a potential buyer for this property, and discouvered just how much effort it would take to do anything with it, I would walk away fast and far.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Something needs to happen on the Battery Hotel site. This property is a complete dive. The only thing it has going to the view. The rooms are outdated and the food is below par. It is time for change on Signal Hill. A developer needs to tear it down and build it up to something people would expect of such a site.

  • Sparkey
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Hi; before anyone looks at buying anything in St.Johns,NL they should first get a team of lawyers ,to be able to put new windows & doors on the new property that they are looking at investing into.