Concerns raised over proposed development

Proponent working with neighbours to address concerns

Dave Bartlett
Published on February 25, 2012

Some residents of Wood Street, near the east end of Duckworth Street, have concerns about a plan to build a five-storey building adjacent to their backyards.

It’s part of a two-building project proposed by Republic Properties.

The company wants to build a five-storey hotel on the site of the former Crazy Horse bar, with another five-storey building — a two-storey parking garage to serve both buildings topped with three floors of condominiums — across the street at the site of the former East End Fire Station.

It’s the later site that has Rhonda Hayward and Jeff Marshall concerned.

Hayward said she’s not against development.

“When I first heard there was going to be a condo (built) there, I was happy about it until I saw the plans,” she told The Telegram this week. “I’m happy to see something going there. The building that’s there now is not attractive, so I was looking forward to the development, until I saw the size.”

Hayward said when she viewed the proposed design she “had to grab on to the table because I thought I was going to fall, I was that upset.”

She said the proposed building is simply too large for the area.

“Everyone is very concerned about how big it is” she said. “It’s almost like everyone is speechless when they look at (the drawings.) We always pictured something there, but just not of that scale.”

Hayward worries she’ll lose the privacy of her backyard as plans show a number of decks for the condos will overlook her home.

She also said she has concerns about traffic and traffic sightlines at the corner of Duckworth and Ordinance Streets and the noise from construction which could go on for a year and a half.

Marshall’s biggest concern is access to his backyard through a gate.

Because of the layout of his home, he needs access through the back to move anything large in or out of his house.

Marshall said he wouldn’t even need access all the time, but he wants to work out an agreement with Republic so he could use it from time to time.

“I do have concerns with privacy and light and things like that, but personally I see the positive aspects of this development as well. I do like that it’s residential as opposed to office space,” Marshall continued.

A few weeks ago, Marshall, Hayward and Neal De Florio of Republic Properties met to try to work out a compromise.

Marshall said he was impressed with how receptive the company seemed to be during the two hour meeting.

“No resolution has been reached (yet),” said Marshall. “How much they end up acting on (our concerns) remains to be seen. But I’ve got nothing bad to say ... they definitely exceeded my expectations for listening to our concerns.”

He said he understands some type of compromises may have to be made on the part of the neighbourhood.

“As long as I’m convinced that (Republic) is legitimately taking concerns seriously and trying their best to incorporate (a) design that will keep everyone happy,” continued Marshall.

“We definitely want to work with the neighbours,” said De Florio when contacted by The Telegram. “We designed the buildings ... to fit in with the environment and the neighbourhood.”

De Florio said because both sites are fairly small, Republic does have to build up.

But he said the proposed hotel will only be three metres higher than allowed — 18 metres as opposed to 15 — which is similar to what the city granted for other recent developments downtown, including at the former CBC Radio Building.

And he said the building that will abut Haywood’s and Marshall’s homes won’t be any taller than the home that sits behind the East End Fire Station on Ordinance Street.

“We’re not going to be any higher than that roof line,” said De Florio.

He also noted that building will only be 12 meres tall from the streets grade which falls under the height restriction. However the land will have to be rezoned from residential downtown to apartment downtown to allow for the development.

The company is preparing a land use assessment report which will be reviewed by city staff before the project is sent to a public meeting.

But Coun. Tom Hann, the chairman of the city’s planing committee, already likes the proposal.

“I think it’s a great project, simply because it’s a refurbishment of that whole area of the east end (of downtown),” he told The Telegram. “It is a restoration of an area ... that needs a lot of attention.”

Hann also maintains the height should not be an issue.

He added the city’s traffic engineer has already studied the project and the heritage committee has also given a green light to the design.