Business owner hopes to rally opposition to proposed Duckworth Street hotel

Daniel MacEachern
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Red Ochre Gallery owner says design doesn’t fit heritage guidlines

A downtown St. John’s business owner hopes to rally opposition to a proposed boutique hotel on Duckworth Street.

An artists rendering of the Lighthouse Project. — Telegram file photo

Brenda McClellan, owner of the Red Ochre Gallery near Republic Properties’ planned “Lighthouse Project” development, says the project, a boutique hotel with ground-floor commercial space and residential building with two levels of parking, doesn’t fit downtown’s heritage.

The city is holding a public meeting Tuesday on a rezoning change required to accommodate the project.

“As a citizen, my concern is that they’re going against their own guidelines that anything erected should be compatible with the neighbourhood,” she said.

“These two buildings are not compatible with the historical area, especially since quite close to all this are residences with a lot of history and small commercial establishments, all keeping within the heritage character.”

McClellan said as a neighbouring business owner, she’ll be directly affected, and she further feels heritage guidelines aren’t being enforced uniformly.

“I was not allowed to raise my roof one foot — I requested it when I had my renovations last year — because it was not within keeping of the heritage,” said McClellan, who is trying to drum up opposition to attend Tuesday’s public meeting.

“The rules are different for other people. That was not allowed, but immediately next to me is going to be a five-storey building. I don’t think they look like heritage buildings to me. There’s not anything nice about them.”

Norm Turner, vice-president of operations for Republic Properties, said the project is in keeping with the city’s heritage guidelines, and suggested opposition is limited to a few people guided by self-interest.

“Our architects tried extremely hard to put not only a high-quality design, but a heritage-style design in there. Certainly it’s more ‘heritage-y’ than any of the surrounding buildings,” he said.

“There’s the usual three people that have an axe to grind with this particular project. … There’s the lady with the gallery who has her own reasons. There’s other commercial interests that have very obvious reasons to not want it to go ahead, and there’s one or two people who think the view will be affected, but the zoning was for a building of similar height. We’ve only added a floor to it, so the view isn’t going to be any more detrimentally affected as soon as the full potential of the zoning was used.”

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Foran Greene room on the fourth floor of city hall.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Duckworth Street hotel, Red Ochre Gallery

Geographic location: Red Ochre

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Recent comments

  • Lloyd
    March 07, 2014 - 12:13

    Rally the troops for opposition against this great development in the older section of the downtown core of the city. What total, absolute foolishness. Mother always said "the longer you live, the more you'll see and hear". I guess I'll always hear some foolishness like the bit of opposition to this wonderful development. And, to hear what this business owner of the Gallery is talking about, reminds me of back in the day of Queen Victoria. Why, when a development is proposed for the downtown area, there are ALWAYS a few people complaining, right, left and center? They always look at the NEGATIVE side, instead of the POSITIVE side of developments. This business owner who is complaining, along with a few others should be thankful there is a wonderful development for this area of historic downtown. Don't she and others realize that her business will increase as a result of this development? Don't bite the hand that will be feeding you? I am sick and tired of listening to a certain group of people that are ONLY concerned about the "VIEW". It is high time to get a life?

    March 06, 2014 - 21:29

    As much as I respect Ms. McClellan's view, she needs to accept the fact that she and her tree-hugger friends have attempted to stymie development in this city far longer than should have been allowed if City Council had any guts. Just because this city has a heritage plan shouldn't mean that development projects should look like they were built in 1820. This is new development and should be permitted to proceed, NOW.

  • sewermain
    March 06, 2014 - 21:03

    For those concerned about traffic and parking, consider consequneces of a project of this scale that would provide no new parking! Or perhaps that would actually be better for traffic?

  • Roy Rideout
    March 06, 2014 - 20:46

    So she couldn't raise her roof 1ft. so now she is against development. So if she had her request approved then this hotel would be ok. These old Bldgs are no historic they were built in a rush without plan after the great fire and are n now a fire hazard. Seems that whenever development is proposed in St. John's there is objection from some one or group , no wonder the city is in the mess its in and our population is declining Why not build a bunch of shacks behind existing homes and call them hotel rooms. is the issue with Hooters settled yet, how about the Hr Fence and other development etc.

  • Common cents
    March 06, 2014 - 18:22

    HOOTERS One word WOW what's wrong with sin Jon's?

  • Buster Garvick
    March 06, 2014 - 16:47

    The “artists rendering” incorrectly depicts sunlight originating from the northern sky, with the façade of the building on the south side of Duckworth Street brilliantly illuminated and the north side of the street in shadow. Since the sunlight will originate from the southern sky this is a blatantly false depiction. In reality the building on the south side of the street will likely block almost all the sunlight to that part of Duckworth Street for most of the year. There may be a few rays of sunshine that make it through in the evening hours during the late spring/early summer when the sun, near solstice, is setting in the western sky.

    • @Buster Garvick
      March 07, 2014 - 11:49

      Duckworth Street runs in a north-south direction. This is exactly how the sun will shine around 1 to 2 pm in the summer. When the sun is in the south western portion of the sky.

    • @@Buster Garvick
      March 07, 2014 - 17:22

      Contrary to the claims made in the above post, imagery available on Google Maps Satellite View of shadows cast by other buildings located on the south(eastern) side of Duckworth Street… such as the Sir Humphrey Gilbert Building … appears to support Buster Garvick’s assertions.

    • Buster Garvick
      March 09, 2014 - 19:46

      In retrospect perhaps referring to the "artist's rendering" accompanying this article as being "blatantly false" was too strong a term, my apologies... "seasonally cherry-picked" may have been a more appropriate term. Nonetheless, my point is that I expect that either one or the other of these structures will block direct sunlight to the surrounding neighbourhood during most of the year.

    • @@@Buster Garvick
      March 10, 2014 - 13:48

      Complete non-sense. And Buster it may be cherry picked but the sun is most definitely regularly in the position shown on the artists rendering. It might show the most positive situation but I wouldn't expect an artist to depict the most negative situation.

  • Watcher08
    March 06, 2014 - 16:23

    Well I guess it looks heritage-y, it's just some other city's heritage and not ours. That being said, I like it and hope it goes ahead. I think it will look great on that corner, both buildings.

  • Allison
    March 06, 2014 - 14:40

    This will have 2 floors of parking. Currently there sits no parking for that space. 2 floors will only add to the area. It will increase foot traffic. Fairmont has its own parking, The hotel across the street has underground parking. I don't see parking being an issue. I do think its very unfair that the gallery owner wasn't able to make any changes to her property and this is now allowed. Same rules should be applied to all involved.

    • JBrake
      March 06, 2014 - 15:53

      ...because the woman bought a heritage structure. When you buy a heritage structure you know that you have to deal with Shannie Duff. She knew her ceilings were low when she bought the place, now she wants to raise the roof. She's not allowed, and she's mad.

  • Mary
    March 06, 2014 - 14:35

    That's one thing I've noticed since moving here,someone is going to protest ,whether it's a good or bad thing. Live and let live,I say.

  • Steve
    March 06, 2014 - 14:29

    Its is a fine development worthy of of serious consideration. I hate to go here but the heritage of the east end of Duckworth street!?!? Are you kidding me? Various locations of KFC and the Picadilly strip joint? Come on people stop maoning and complaining for the sake of it....go ahead with this project.

  • happy
    March 06, 2014 - 14:14

    great development, this end of downtown really needs something like this to feed some growth and life into it. this development is replacing a run down strip club and a vacant city building...and people still fine a way to complain...funny

  • Huck
    March 06, 2014 - 14:06

    Yee haaaw! Get with it y'all; this here's big oil country now. L'il ole St John's is poised to become the Texas of the North. Git along now with yer old fashioned ideas.

  • Downtown Townie
    March 06, 2014 - 13:26

    Ms. McClellan good luck rallying the troops on this issue, but that ship has sailed. The project will be going ahead! These meetings for the rezoning are just a formaility. Businesses on Duckworth Street east are coasting along with the prosperity St. Johns is experiencing. Your area businesses will flourish once this development is completed.

  • Chad
    March 06, 2014 - 13:00


  • Yesby
    March 06, 2014 - 12:59

    I'm surprised any developer would think of trying to build in downtown St. John's. I love the idea of this building, but there is always someone complaining about something. Downtown needs to evolve, big-time. Stop trying to stop this process by screaming "My view will be gone!", or "It's not heritage!". I would vote evolution for downtown, over heritage, any day of the the week. It's about time time we wake up and let people develop areas like this.

  • Nomorenewfiew
    March 06, 2014 - 12:58

    I don't live in St. John's anymore, I live in a more modern city. That said, downtown St. John's is one of the few attractive redeeming areas of the city. The cavalier attitude of people on this forum towards the esthetic of downtown is sad. It's nice that Norm is posting here, but had he a clue, he do what builders do in other North American cities and do some marketing of the project. Where's the website showing the design? First level commercial? Is that street facing? Internal to the hotel? What's the change here? Will there be space for seating along the sidewalk? What is this project doing for the city? I see a picture in the Telegram that looks pretty ugly. It's typical of the short sighted construction industry in the city that they try to push things forward without building consensus. Newfoundlanders are prone to complain about everything, but in this case the developers have created their own mess. You're all going to be stuck with whatever this property is for a long time. Making sure that it fits the area and extends the walkable part of downtown shouldn't be left to developers who care about their own pocketbooks and not the city itself.

    • Norm - Republic Properties
      March 06, 2014 - 14:14

      There is a web site at republicsuites(dot)ca which under the plan tab has a number of different elevations,renderings and so on. This is very much "proposed" at the moment because the scheme is still working through the planning process. The LUAR is a matter of public record however and the elevations in there are identical

  • MarkG
    March 06, 2014 - 12:30

    When will these artsy fartsy people live in the real world! Where do they think these "artist grants" come from? Developments like this subsidize your lifestyle. Stop biting the hand that feeds you.

  • Madonna Kelly
    March 06, 2014 - 11:55

    I have no problem whatsoever with the proposed development . It will create a lot of employment during the construction phase and more again after completion. If I were a business owner there, I would be delighted with the development because it would bring more people into the surrounding businesses there....let's start moving with the times like most other major cities around the sure is better than what's there now !

  • John
    March 06, 2014 - 10:50

    and yet again we have the NIMBY artsy fartsy gang try to stop a perfectly good project in rundown St. John's. I guess the usual suspects (rubber boot gang) will get together now and sing kumbaya as they lament about the city progressing and taking away their view of the harbour or whatever other gripe they have.

  • M. Atkinson
    March 06, 2014 - 10:31

    And the Presentation nuns are not allowed to have windows they can open!

  • Norm - Republic Properties
    March 06, 2014 - 09:55

    In order to achieve a heritage appearance, the architects for our project drew inspiration for the flat-iron style elements of #83 from the Delgado building built at 169 Water street in 1892 which now appears on the Federal Government Register of Historic Places. The building replaces a redundant strip club. The current fire hall is a bunker like structure which does nothing to enhance the neighbourhood and the former combined fire and police station which preceded it was probably more massive than the proposed building. The LUAR Report required by council had to address satisfactorily :- Building Usage, Elevation and Material, Building Height and Location, Exterior Lighting and Noise, Landscaping and Screening Snow clearing/ Storage, Off-street Parking, Servicing, Traffic Construction Time Frame, Construction Worker Parking, Construction Lay-Down Area. Over 2 years of careful planning and cooperation with the City have gone into this development

    • Tom
      March 06, 2014 - 10:19

      We don't have time for logic, let emotions rule.

    • BJC
      March 06, 2014 - 10:53

      Keep at it Norm. It's unfortunate that a great development gets the response it does in this city. It's a sad reality that people in St. John's are so blind. Good luck with the project. I'll be down on Tuesday night.

    • Robb
      March 06, 2014 - 12:22

      Hey Norm, it's too bad you have to defend yourself, especially on this forum. This heritage crap has got to stop, as it is keeping St. John's in the 18th century. Times change, and so should the landscape. And for these crazy people who say "oh it will block my view", is sickening to hear...I mean where in the world can you buy property that guarantees a view? It was these same dingbats that stopped Fortis from making downtown a new and vibrant place to visit and do business. They did not want Fortis to tear down those rat-hole buildings, and now it just looks like a run-down dilapidated area that you just want to stay away from. Let's take a lesson from Halifax where the development committee can override the heritage crew. Now this is not to say that I am totally against heritage, and there are places for it, but certainly not in that area that you want to do this beautiful development. If I can make it down Tuesday, I will be supporting you against these rubber boot freaks.

    • Jon
      March 06, 2014 - 12:50

      This is a beautiful proposal and I wish you luck in getting it passed.

  • Observer
    March 06, 2014 - 09:51

    This lady is beyond belief. A gold mine for her business is about to be built right next door,ie a beautiful, new hotel which will be filled by well-heeled visitors with lots of money to spend on stuff like art, and this is how she reacts??? The downtown needs new projects like this one. Has anyone ever looked UP when strolling along the north side of Water Street and noticed the seemingly abandoned floors above street level on the south side in the former London, New York and Paris building and in much of that strip? Apart from the trendy shops along the sidewalk , the upper floors appear to be deemed unsafe or hazardous for some reason and appear to be completely empty, save for the mice no doubt. So this is what is passing as our glorified heritage area? While semi-abandoned buildings in deplorable condition sit there half empty in the heart of downtown with their former glory fading as they continue to be neglected? I know there are floors above street level because I trudged up and down the stairs in these stores when I was a child growing up in St. John's in the 50's and 60's. In any other city these buildings would have been renovated, repaired, renewed and repurposed from top to bottom while still retaining their historical past. It is the backward-looking attitude and view of some very whiny, opinionated people that is allowing this to happen and keeping this city from reaching its true potential as an historic city with a vibrant, heritage honoured downtown. Get on with it! And look up next time you're walking along Water Street. You might be shocked by what you see.

  • M*
    March 06, 2014 - 09:48

    People need to realize the difference in a heritage building and a heritage area. There are different guidlines. This property will provide parking the the downtown arer which is very much needed. It will also eliminate a vacant property and the portitianl issues that arise from that. If anything I think it is a great idea!

  • JP Walsh
    March 06, 2014 - 09:26

    I like this development. I think the gallery owner should also be able to change her building as well. We can't be prisoners to the past, especially if what we're replacing has little or no historic value.

  • cge
    March 06, 2014 - 09:18

    For the past 20 years I have owned & operate a business in the area of concern. I know there is going to be some disruptions during construction but in the end it will be much better for the whole eastend Duckworth Street. Red Ochre Gallery will see a increase in business and others nearby. Surely we need to see improvement in this area it is long over due.

  • chris
    March 06, 2014 - 09:12

    I think People need to stop their B****ing about this.. Focus your energy on serious matters rather then something like this which will create more employment options for the people of St. John's. Never seen the likes before. my god.

  • Anon
    March 06, 2014 - 08:59

    Traffic & parking are already bad in that area. I do not think we should add to the problem by adding a hotel. I think council needs to look at the infrastructure in areas to see if the area can handle the development before saying yes. I also think council is destroying the charm of our city, the very thing that brings tourists by letting these developments go ahead in the downtown core.

  • Eye Sore
    March 06, 2014 - 08:36

    Total bottleneck for traffic jams now imagine what this narrow road will look like with traffic turning in and out of that so called "heritage" eye sore. How did Councillor Galgay approve this? Horrid design!

  • Sam
    March 06, 2014 - 08:32

    Downtown has to be cleaned up and updated, it is dirty and run down. Stop resisting investment / jobs / tax revenue / revitalization / parking....

    • Lorenzo
      March 06, 2014 - 20:38


  • Cha-Ching
    March 06, 2014 - 08:22

    When you step back from the squabbling over whether a building is too high or not compliant with current heritage/ architectural guidelines, the issue becomes very simple. You have an area which at present is either a financial drain on the city coffers or simply not adding enough to it. The alternative; a brand new "vibrant" addition to the downtown core with a huge tax base. Of course this is going to pass any challenge to existing guidelines for the area. When you have a city council, when at the first scent of blood, oops I mean money, begins to drool, the poor little guy/ gal actually concerned with the integrity of the area, won't be heard. Mark my words, this time a year or two down the road and this area in question is going to look nothing like it does today. Cha-Ching.

  • BJC
    March 06, 2014 - 07:48

    Norm nailed it. The self-interested people who seem to not want the city to move forward are making it incredibly difficult for forward-thinking individuals to improve St. John's. Brenda is one of them. First off, she wanted to ALTER AN ALREADY EXISTING HERITAGE BUILDING. That is not the same thing. She was denied because the building she is currently in is already deemed heritage, meaning that it is to be maintained. It has nothing to do with one height being denied and another being allowed. It is entirely based on her operating out of a heritage structure and Lighthouse being new construction (ie: not heritage, not under the guidelines). Secondly, the project actually looks good, and is a major improvement to what is there now. There is no reason why the current eye-sores on that corner should stay there. They are vacant and depressing and do not draw pedestrian traffic, which is what a thriving downtown needs. Thirdly, I can't help but laugh at the short sightedness of Brenda. There is a hotel, which will have a steady-stream of out-of-towners, opening right next-door to her art gallery. If she had taken advantage of this, perhaps provided some artwork or some promotional material to the hotel, she could have potentially gained a lot of business. Assuming the hotel goes there, she likely still will. Foot-traffic is needed for thriving downtown businesses, and she is trying to drive it away from her section of town? It's laughable. I'm a young person in my 20s desperate for reasonably attainable condos downtown. I may actually buy one of these, but not a chance my foottraffic will ever step into Red Ochre after this display. Shameful, backwards, and embarassing. If the developer hopes to rally opposition then I might show up Tuesday having rallied some support.

    • John
      March 06, 2014 - 08:07

      So sorry to disagee with you. You have missed the point entirely but I think your comments are coming from a different direction altogether. The lady is only looking for equal treatment from city hall. That does not happen in St. John's. And by the way the artists rendering of this does not appear to be anything near heritage, but as usual in St. John's that doesn't mean anything if it's new construction. The city of St. John's would allow them to build 5 story outhouses as long as they get their tax money out of it.

    • DLV
      March 06, 2014 - 10:07

      Norm is the greedy one here. His interests trump all others and that, unfortunately, is the prevailing sentiment on this council. For ALL these recent proposed developments there has been ABSOLUTELY NO COMPROMISE by the developers. The only stake they have is the amount of profit they make, they couldn't care less about the neighbourhood or the residents. Look also at the monstrosity about to be built on LeMarchant Road - NO COMPROMISE. Under this council it's the little people who have no say, no rights. 10 years from now when all those tourism vistas are gone remember the names of the current council.

    • BJC
      March 06, 2014 - 10:48

      John, would love to know what the point I miss is. What did I say that was incorrect? What urban planning principles am I misspeaking about?

  • bjw
    March 06, 2014 - 07:10

    This project is a vast improvement to the area. Most of the properties affected cannot be considered "heritage" and are, in fact, eyesores. It's time we got a bit sensible about development in our City.

    • Norm - Republic Properties
      March 06, 2014 - 15:36

      Actually DLV we do compromise and we do listen. Check out the facebook page for Pinnacle Condos and you'll see that in response to the comments we received, the project you mention had the elevations of the building re-designed to incorporate high end stone and brick finishes and to deliver the heritage look the community said was missing from the last iteration

  • fognl
    March 06, 2014 - 07:09

    "....and suggested opposition is limited to a few people guided by self-interest" Ding ding ding ding. This is exactly what the issue is. The only reason this red ochre gallery owner is whining is because they weren't allowed to do something. So like a big baby, if they can't do something, than no one can do anything. People need to get off their heritage high horse. The buildings actually look pretty nice. Just because they don't have the "jelly bean" colours doesn't mean they don't look heritage.

  • John
    March 06, 2014 - 06:46

    This is so typical in St. Johns. I renovated in the city in heritage district one time, I will never do that again. Brenda has such valid points and Norm just dismisses everything. She is not entitled to one foot but he has a right to ten of them and over a much larger footprint I might add. I am sure the extra story is not for parking, that never happens in St. Johns. So sad.

  • Mindy
    March 06, 2014 - 06:36

    There is no difference putting this hotel on Duckworth than the buildings that have been approved and in the process of being built On New Gower/Water/Springdale streets. Did they worry about the individual residents that have lived there for fifty plus years, what about their view? What about the small business owners that are being covered and buried with theses high rise buildings, some will never know if the sun is shinning unless they go look. The city is taking a changing face and there is no room for the what was or I should say what was have no say.

  • Gary
    March 06, 2014 - 06:33

    This City will do as they please ,i had issues over the years with no help ,they seem to not do anything for the little guy

  • Saltheart
    March 06, 2014 - 06:00

    where do they propose to get the electricity to run it, I have no intention of staying up after midnight to do wash so these big companies can come in and cause us more grief

    • Mundy
      March 06, 2014 - 06:58

      Good point. Just another example of lack of (or none) proper energy planning by Nalcor.