The Marotta group has submitted a revised proposal for its hotel/conference centre/wedding factory to the Town.
The proposal is quite similiar to the one Benny Marotta previewed in the “Good Friday” video you can watch on the SORE website.
While the “step-down” design is arguably a modest improvement from the Soviet apartment block style of his initial proposal, SORE’s initial review indicates that the major defects remain:
- It is still seven stories (counting the two storey first floor), four stories higher than the Official Plan Amendment that permitted the Romance Inn to proceed. It will overwhelm this important site and the residential neighbourhood that it sits in the middle of, not to mention the national historic site across the street. Something that height is also entirely out of character with Old Town NOTL
- The large amenity space bordering the residential properties to the south and west will adversely affect the quiet enjoyment of those residences and ultimately their property value.
- There is no effective visual or sound buffer with the residential neighbourhood.
- The restaurant has an outdoor patio facing the residential areas contrary to the Romance Inn OPA
- The new proposal has added more commercial activity to the Devonian House, moving eating, drinking and entertainment venues closer to the residential neighbours
- Balconies have been added to the 2nd and 3rd stories of the hotel in contravention of the OPA that permitted the Romance Inn
- The design does not respect the principles of the Romance Inn, where the amenity spaces projected toward John Street or were surrounded by the hotel to protect the adjoining residential neighbourhood
In addition, the proposal was not accompanied by a tree preservation proposal nor an updated heritage impact assessment.
The Marotta group’s heritage consultant, Leah Wallace, publicly advised earlier this year at a well-attended MHC meeting that she would be updating her heritage impact assessment. We have been unable to find this among the reports submitted to the Town.
In all, SORE continues to have grave concerns about the impacts this proposal would have on the Rand Estate, which is about to be designated by Council under the Heritage Act, as well as on the adjoining residential neighbourhoods. All of the analysis, work and comprimise which allowed Council and the residents to reluctantly agree to theRomance Inn proposal in 2011 appears to have been thrown out the window. Benny Marotta is asking us only seven years later to ignore OPA 51 and start all over again.
Our experts are now reviewing the revised proposal in detail and will be commenting at the appropriate time. In the interim, we say NOTL deserves better, much better. If Mr. Marotta can’t or won’t do it, it’s time to turn the Rand Estate over to someone who can.