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