City changing regulations to accommodate hotel

Bonnie Belec
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 The Marriott Hotel will have company. St. John’s city council voted Monday to allow the owners to expand across the street.
— Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The Marriott Hotel is moving on up — 19.8 metres to be exact.

St. John’s City council voted Monday to approve a revised design by Harbour View Inns Inc. for the extension of the hotel at the intersection of Duckworth and Cochrane streets, across the street from the existing Marriott.

The application for development has been before council for about a year because of concerns about the original design as well as the disapproval of some residents who have expressed their displeasure with the proposal.

Council approved the original design in principle, which called for a pedway between the existing hotel section and the new one, but the building was proposed to be 14.8 metres tall.

 A public meeting was held earlier this month for people to review and comment on the revisions, including the new height proposal,  and while some supported it others objected strenuously especially about the extra two storeys.

Under the city’s regulations, buildings in the downtown can  reach only15 metres, unless council makes an amendment to the development regulations allowing for the extra height, to 19.8 metres.

That’s what Coun. Danny Breen did Monday. It was accepted unanimously.

“It was previously approved, but then they filed an application for redesign and when the application for redesign came in it had to be approved again by council because it was over the height restriction,” Breen said following the meeting.

“But the approval tonight was for this specific zone amendment for that area to allow for the increased height,” he said.

According to city documents the revisions include: eliminating the overhead pedestrian link, changing the room design, and adding two additional floors for a total of 80 rooms. The height from Duckworth Street is five storeys above parking, the meeting rooms and coffee shop have been eliminated and the rear extension to the parking garage has been removed.

In a report to the city following the meeting on the revisions, there were four letters of support for the proposal and eight letters of objection.

Those who objected said they were concerned about setting a precedent, that the integrity of the heritage in the area would be jeopardized, the size and that their views would be blocked.

“Those are legitimate concerns and when these applications come in there’s various reasons why applications are rejected from time to time or approved. We looked at this one as a specific application from the developer to have an increased height and council looking at all of the information provided agreed the additional height would be required,” Breen said.

He said the height restriction in the downtown is becoming a challenge because of the economy. He said the purpose of  this kind of a project is for the developer to get a return, but being able to get that because of the four storeys restriction is challenging.

When it comes to setting a precedent, Breen said one already exists.

“There’s a precedent there now because the height restriction has been allowed to be exceeded by other developments in the downtown, so the precedent is there to go above that, but it is looked at on a case-by-case basis as well as the site and the area.”

The other complaint from residents involves blocked views. Breen said unfortunately private views aren’t protected and it’s not something the city can protect.

Some of the people from the area in favour of the project said the hotel is not over the top, it will be built on a vacant parking lot, it will create employment and more rooms, and it is a beautiful project that keeps the downtown in mind.

 bbelec@the telegram

Organizations: Marriott Hotel, Harbour View Inns

Geographic location: Duckworth Street

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Recent comments

  • seanoairborne
    November 27, 2012 - 14:07

    I guess the comment page of The Telegram gets action when you have enough people condemning the old thinking by a lot of the old fossils at city hall?Now,plow down many of the old eyesores in DT St.John's and "really"start to revitalize the city core with some good looking high risers!Get into the new millennium , or get left behind like Detroit!

  • lisa
    November 27, 2012 - 08:57

    Still Think overhead pedestrian link should be required and parking is a great assest to down town

  • East ender
    November 27, 2012 - 08:53

    Yes Don it's is good to get out of the dark ages,with that being said change the rules for everyone living in the downtown area,there are residents that can,t even change the style of their windows,can,t put siding on their homes because of the area are they live in,but when it comes to a business they can change the whole face of a building.example the Blue Drop foot of Prescott St.They even put an extra story on that place.Big plate glass windows on the front that displays a wonderful tree they took from Waterford Bridge Rd. But the poor old person who been living their all their lives can,t even do what they want with their homes.All these business are taking parking from the residents,again an example the bed and breakfasts everywhere can obtain 3 visitors parking passes but a resident can only have one.If these business cannot provide parking then they should not get a permit.So yes come out of the dark ages and treat everyone the same.

  • SR
    November 27, 2012 - 08:35

    Why bother with the regulations if you don't follow them?

  • Don
    November 27, 2012 - 07:50

    Thank God we are getting out of the "dark ages." Time to move on and get in step with the 21 st century.