Duckworth development discussed

Dave Bartlett
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Proposed hotel to blend modern architecture with historic flavour

The Crazy Horse property on Duckworth street. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The east end of Duckworth Street in St. John’s will look drastically different if a proposed development goes through.

Members of city council who attended a planning committee meeting earlier this week all seemed pleased with what a proposed pair of buildings will look like.

Republic Properties wants to replace the former Crazy Horse bar with a hotel, designed somewhat in the style of the well-known wedge-shaped Gridiron building in New York City. Across the street — where the former east end Fire Station is currently being used for storage and city offices — the company wants to add a companion building which would be for long-term accommodations for those in town on business for weeks or months at a time.

The city’s heritage advisory committee has already given the designs the green light, but the developer must file a land use assessment report with the city before it moves on to a public meeting, the next steps in the development process.

Planning committee chairman Coun. Tom Hann said he thinks the proposed buildings will enhance the area and create a gateway into the downtown.

“This will be an example of how new buildings can co-exist in a heritage area with older buildings. And the design of the exterior and everything else. It fits right in,” he said.

Hann said he thinks when people see the drawings of the proposed buildings, they’ll approve.

He said issues about traffic sightlines in the area have already been addressed by the developer in the proposed designs.

But a controversy may still be brewing.

The company has secured an option to buy city-owned land — the site of the former fire station — for $556,000, if and when the project gets final approval from council.

Republic Properties first secured that option to buy last year, and recently had the deadline for the option extended by council.

But both times council voted on the option to buy there was opposition from the council table. Concerns were raised over how the option was obtained.

While some councillors changed their vote when the extension was put to a vote earlier this month, Couns. Frank Galgay and Sheilagh O’Leary, along with Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff contend the process was unfair.

Those members of council want to auction off the land to the highest bidder, if it is to be sold at all.

That way, they say, the city wouldn’t be giving favourable treatment to one developer over others.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Fire Station

Geographic location: Duckworth Street, New York City

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  • Chris
    January 23, 2012 - 14:01

    I agree the land should go to auction, however the 2 S's on council should be careful what they wish for. What they have now is a developer who wants to develop within heritage guideline and will not put a skywalk across the road. Remember you can't have the cake and eat it as well.

  • brad
    January 23, 2012 - 10:29

    Wow! can't wait for this. I bet it will look great once it is completed. A picture of the plans would be a great touch to this story!

  • angela
    January 23, 2012 - 08:35

    I agree, auctioning off the land sounds like the only fair solution.

  • brett
    January 23, 2012 - 08:26

    Additionally: there are a number of B&B's for sale currently that this property is competing with. Bonne Esperance House was for sale last year on Gower St. but didn't change hands, Elizabeth Manor is for sale on Military Rd., ParkHouse is for sale on Military Rd., Banberry House on Military Rd is for sale, McCoubrey Manor is for sale (ordnance st.), Comfort & Joy B&B is for sale (Wood Street). If the idea is to build a boarding house, I think that the other properties should should be able to fill the same market. There are numerous hotels going up downtown. Another buy, build and flip isn't what the city needs - especially for such a small piece of land. If the project was large + would show definite benefit for the city over a 20 year period sure, but this is small potatoes and not worth any deals in my opinion. I hope I am back in town in time to voice my opinion.

  • brett
    January 23, 2012 - 08:16

    Agree with Dee. Especially wrt allowing a company to hold a right to purchase the property + sitting on it until it becomes viable. If you want to sit on the land + hoard it until the economic viability is there, then buy the property + pay the taxes for it. Do not hold back city growth by playing paper tricks. Let the property go to auction, or let the company buy the property right now (at a rate above market value - city should be able to show that the purchase price is above what they would expect the place to sell for in order for it not to go for public auction).

  • DD
    January 23, 2012 - 08:09

    Hann, Tilley, and O'Keefe would endorse a Black Horse Ale flag atop City Hall.

  • Dee
    January 23, 2012 - 07:43

    I agree when city owned land is to be sold,it should be put up for auction,other tax payers may want or have use for it,not just the big time developers who think they run the city of St John,s...or do they

  • Sean
    January 23, 2012 - 07:27

    It would be nice if we could see the proposed design too. It was presented at the City's planning committee - why couldn't the Telegram get a copy of it and put it in the paper / website? Furthermore, and ideally, the City should be putting such things on its web site.

  • James
    January 23, 2012 - 07:18

    You would think that Shannie and Sheilagh would be jumping for joy that a developer will abide by the archaic stringent guidelines set forth by the heritage committee.