New proposal for old theatre building

Application submitted to city for residential, office use with possible retail space and indoor parking

Steve Bartlett sbartlett@thetelegram.com
Published on February 5, 2009
The former CBC Radio building on Duckworth Street in St. John's, which once housed the old Capital Theatre, is the subject of a new application before city council. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A Duckworth Street landmark could get new life if developer Bill Clarke's application is approved.

Powderhouse Hill Investments has asked to develop the building at 344 Duckworth that housed the old Capital Theatre and was most recently home to CBC Radio.

Clarke's name is on the company's application.

He and his brother Randy Clarke once operated Myles-Leger, a real estate company that filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2004.

At the time, the firm - which owned dozens of properties in the St. John's area - owed more than $14 million to 125 creditors.

Powderhouse Hill's plan, according to city documents, would see the building developed for residential use as well as for office space, possible retail and indoor parking.

The developer is asking for, among other things, a higher height limit because it wants to add three storeys.

The city's planning staff consider the project a positive addition to the neighbourhood.

They, however, are recommending against a higher height limit, but note that under the existing regulations, Powderhouse could add one extra storey.

The staff has suggested the application be referred to a public meeting.

Frank Galgay is the ward councillor for the area.

He likes the project and, if it's approved, expects it would help revitalize Duckworth Street.

"So far, on first blush, it looks good," he says, noting he would make his final decision on the application after the public meeting.

Powderhouse Hill's plan is at least the second proposed use of 344 Duckworth St. since CBC Radio moved its operation to the corporation's location on the Prince Philip Parkway.

In 2007, developer Paul Madden wanted to renovate the building and turn it into an arts space, refurbishing the Capital Theatre into a 500-seat venue.

He sought government funding to help with the development.

A call to Madden to see if he was involved with Powderhouse Hill was not returned.

The application to develop the former CBC Radio site was not the only application Clarke had before the planning and housing committee this week.

On behalf of a company called Leger Holdings, he also asked permission to conduct a land use assessment in the Murphy's Lane/Signal Hill area. The business has applied to build a nine-lot residential subdivision there.

A message left with Clarke was not returned by the reporter's deadline.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com