As some of our supporters will have seen, the Marotta group has hired an architect to produce a new picture of their proposed hotel/convention centre. Much was made of this rendering in a recent letter to the editor by Mr. Marotta’s lawyer.
The picture recently published in a local paper is in the eyes of some an improvement from his previous two designs.
At this point, however, all we and the Town have are pictures. No detail. We have no clarity on whether Benny Marotta intends to follow through with detailed design information. So we must assume that the proposal still involves cavernous function spaces and close to 400 underground parking spots. And that the outdoor amenity spaces continue to represent an incompatible neighbour for the surrounding established residential neighbourhood.
We can however make the following observations:
- The picture published in The Lake Report is from an elevation of 60 plus feet. We assume that’s quite deliberate. The structure would not appear like that from the street.
- With what appears to be a two-storey main floor, the building appears to be the same height as Benny Marotta’s previous proposals and several stories higher than the Romance Inn proposal contemplated in OPA 51. And much higher than Parks Canada has repeatedly said should be the height limit of any building on the Rand Estate. As depicted, this would certainly be among the only buildings in Old Town to ever require the use of construction cranes to build.
- The mass of the building would still in our view overwhelm the numerous heritage assets on the Rand Estate.
- The proposal appears to continue to rely on the use of 200 John Street for access and egress. Remarkably, that property is not even included in the Marotta application. No studies have been provided about the impact of putting a municipal road on lands containing an environmentally sensitive area which includes a tributary of One Mile Creek. In addition, 200 John has been identified by both the Town’s and SORE’s heritage experts as containing an extensive heritage landscape that the Town is attempting to protect under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In short, while we acknowledge that the new picture may be more pleasant at first blush than the wildly inappropriate hotel design that is still part of Mr. Marotta’s official application , the concept appears to suffer from the same critical flaws.
Mr. Marotta knew full well when he bought the property what our elected Council (narrowly) approved for the Rand Estate in 2011 after a two year public debate. We suggest he make a decision about whether he’s prepared to abide by the spirit and intent of our Official Plan or find another place for his hotel/convention centre.