A 1,500-seat entertainment venue is hitting St. John’s soon, as part of John Steele’s plan to expand his JAG Hotel.
Steele says he’s been thinking about an extension to the hotel for the last number of years, slowly piecing together the land needed for the plan.
Steele’s proposal for an extension to his JAG Hotel is currently working its way through St. John’s City Hall, with three sales approved to date.
JAG hotel is a rock and roll-themed hotel, just a few feet away from the existing St. John’s Convention Centre. While Steele’s affinity for rock and roll has helped inform his work on JAG and as the former owner of Steele Communications, Steele says the plans aren’t just for rock music at the extension.
“It’s going to be a multi-purpose room. You can do shows, you can do conferences, it’s going to be a very adaptable room. That’s what we want to do there, so we can do all types of different events,” said Steele.
“I look at it as being kind of a sweet spot. You have Mile One, which is too big, or you have the other ones which are too small, so I think we’re going into that middle market, middle size that will make things more economically viable. It’s a natural add-on to the hotel.”
A 1,500-seat venue would make the JAG extension the second-largest concert venue in the city. Mile One Stadium hits around 6,000 seats, the Arts and Culture in St. John’s seats around 1,000 people. The LSPU Hall can hold just under 200 people.
"You have Mile One, which is too big, or you have the other ones which are too small, so I think we’re going into that middle market, middle size that will make things more economically viable." — John Steele
Steele says he expects the final project to be taller than the existing JAG Hotel, which means the final cost for the air rights above the construction area remains to be seen. The city and Steele’s company has agreed to $25 per square foot, plus taxes, as the rate for air space over Buchanan Street and over a small patch of land at 430 Water St. A 1,622-square-foot patch of land called Hutchings Lane, which runs between the two buildings on the 430 Water St. property, was sold to Steele’s company for about $72,990. All three sales were approved at last Monday’s council meeting.
As for council’s perspective on the matter, re-zoning for the area will have to take place, with a number of businesses and residential homes in the immediate area.
Mayor Danny Breen says there’s still a way to go before the final project gets full approval from council.
“Right now, what they’re doing is the land-use assessment report, so once the land-use assessment report is completed, they’ll come back to council and then council would decide whether to move forward, if they move forward, then there’ll be a public hearing called,” said Breen.
“For it to move forward, there would be a public hearing on the application.”
Details on public hearings about the JAG Hotel expansion are forthcoming.
With files from Juanita Mercer