Deputy mayor says future planning for downtown needs to be considered
Tom Hann — File photo
St. John’s city council has deferred granting approval-in-principle to a proposed expansion to the Scotia Centre in downtown St. John’s.
According to Coun. Tom Hann, council’s liaison for the development committee, the proposal involves an addition to the east side of the Scotia Centre on Water Street.
It would create a three-storey addition to the building, offering 2,260 square metres of floor area for office space and leaving 200 square-metres of undeveloped space on the property.
Hann said the developer, Eastport Properties Limited, needs to meet with the city to discuss parking issues. City law for such a structure would require that 36 parking spaces be made available to go with the expansion. Otherwise, the developer would need to make a cash-in-lieu payment to the city.
Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff asked that the proposal be sent to the planning committee for further discussion.
“It is the adding of almost 20,000 square feet of office space in an area on Water Street that already has certain constraints, one of them being parking, and another being the narrowness of the street.”
Duff said the city should look to see how such an expansion would fit with the overall vision for the downtown area. She noted the city has already invested nearly $10 million on a project with two developers to deal with an existing deficiency of 500 parking spaces.
“That only deals with what is currently deficient. Every time we do this (cash)-in-lieu piece, we are creating additional deficiencies.”
Hann said the city would like the developer to investigate some off-street parking options.
He added that the city would also like the developer to create a landscape design to incorporate green space in the area. Hann suggested a small park with benches and greenery might prove to be a nice addition to downtown St. John’s.
“And it would be able to accommodate some of the small events that occur there on a few occasions throughout the year, like the Busker Festival,” he said.
Duff said the 200 square metres of undeveloped space that would remain if the proposed expansion was approved would not amount to much space and likely create issues for the Busker Festival.
“I think we need to look at this whole application in the context of our future planning for the downtown,” she said.