The Marriott Hotel in St John’s NL is moving – by 65 in fact. On Monday, the St John’s Council voted to approve the revised design for an extension of the Harbour View Inns Inc hotel located at the intersection of Cochrane Street and Duckworth Street, directly across from the existing Marriott Hotel.
The development application has been sitting before the council for almost a year due to concerns over the original design and the disapproval of a number of residents who have been quite vocal in their displeasure regarding the proposed move. The original design, which was approved in principle by the council, called for a pedway to be situated between the new hotel and the existing one; however, the building was proposed to be 48 feet tall. Earlier this month a public meeting was held for people to make comments about the revisions, including the proposal for the new height; while some supported it, many others strenuously voiced their objections. These objections were particularly in regards to the additional two stories.
City regulations state that downtown buildings can reach no higher than 49 feet unless the council amends the development regulations that allow for the additional height, to 65 feet. This is precisely what Councilor Danny Breen did on Monday; the decision was unanimously accepted. “It was previously approved, but then they filed an application for redesign and when the application for redesign came in it had to be approved again by council because it was over the height restriction,” Breen says. “But the approval tonight was for this specific zone amendment for that area to allow for the increased height.”
City documents show that the revisions include the elimination of the overhead pedestrian link, the alteration of the room design, and the addition of two extra floors for a grand total of 80 rooms. Duckworth Street’s height is five stories above the parking, the coffee shop and meeting room have been removed, as has the rear extension of the parking garage.
After the meeting about the revisions, a report was sent to the city showing four letters that supported the proposal and eight that did not. Those who did not objected to the setting of a new precedent with the approval and feared that the area’s integrity would be jeopardized by the relocation, as well as the blocking of their own views.
“Those are legitimate concerns and when these applications come in there’s various reasons why applications are rejected from time to time or approved,” Breen admits, but says that each application is judged on its own merits and that on this occasion the council agreed that the additional height was in fact required. He also adds that the downtown height restriction is beginning to become a challenge given the state of the economy, and that developers need to be able to get a return on their investment.