Residents near LeMarchant Road development lay out concerns
A local businessman says a planned condo project will shut down his metal works shop.
Ron Coady, owner of Coady’s Metal Works on Lime Street — next to a planned 55-unit condo development on LeMarchant Road — says he’s worried the project will force him to close his business, which has been operated by his family for 131 years, 37 at its current location.
“It’s going to shut down my forge, because you’re talking about five storeys of condos up and above my smokestack with balconies overlooking it,” he said. “I burn coal in my forge. No one wants coal smoke coming in out of their balconies. We’ve looked at it, we’ve had engineers look at it — we can’t extend the chimney 75 feet. It wouldn’t be structurally sound. So, basically it’s going to shut down my forge.”
Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay moved to reject the project outright at city council’s regular meeting Monday — citing a threat to Coady’s Metal Works as well as concerns about traffic, parking and strong opposition from residents of the area — but found support with only Ward 5 Coun. Wally Collins, as the rest of council supports the project.
“We want to stay here. I have the next generation coming on behind me, but it looks like it’s not going to happen,” he said. Coady says he’s looking at other locations and says it’s not easy to find locations that will accommodate a blacksmith. He says he’s looking for legal advice on what he can do. He says the developers approached him early on about buying his shop.
“I said, ‘We have two options here. Either you find me another location where I can operate, or you pay me enough to make me retire,’” he said, laughing. “And neither of those happened.”
Several area residents spoke out about the project at a public meeting in September, with criticisms ranging from the height of the structure — described as a five-storey development, but with parking levels the project is more comparable to a seven- or eight-storey structure — to traffic and parking concerns and the esthetics of the project.
Architect Roman Halitzki of LeMarchant Road prepared a detailed analysis of the project that questioned several aspects of the development, including zoning concerns, municipal regulations, shading concerns and the introduction of the building to a condo market that he says is already saturated and overpriced.
“What I found shocking and a travesty was how the staff basically ignored the whole gamut of planning guidelines and development regulations and seem to ignore the fact as well that the building is a total monstrosity from an architectural and urban design point of view by any standard, and completely against everything that all of those planning guidelines, development regulations, the heritage designation. Everything that was there to protect and advance the urban design quality of St. John’s, everything was flushed down the toilet to allow that monstrosity to go ahead.”
Some critics noted the expected costs of the units — about $400,000 — don’t fit with city council’s stated priority of ensuring more affordable housing in the city. Others say they’re not opposed to condos being built, but aren’t satisfied with the plans by Pinnacle Developments. Joy Hecht, an environmental economics consultant, said she basically supports the project, but her biggest concern is with parking.
“To me, building high-density downtown, in a place where, for the most part, does not block views, it’s not on Water Street, I think it makes sense,” said Hecht, a Lime Street resident. “The only real concern I have has to do with parking, and it’s a question that at least as of that meeting in September, the city had not even thought about, because they don’t seem to think about these issues before they give permissions.” The plans call for 68 parking spots for 55 units, but Hecht is concerned that condo residents would also be given street parking permits, which she said would cause “a major traffic headache.”
Brad DeYoung of Parade Street said the idea of a condo development is fine. “I think the issue with this particular building is the scale of it, and the relationship of the building to the road itself, and the overall density,” he said. “I think it’s been driven by the fact that the lot is so narrow. The lot in one section is 20 feet deep, and I think it forced the developer to go high and to allow no space between the sidewalk and the building itself.”