In a series of developments over the last few days, the Marotta group has done the following:
- Withdrawn their appeals to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) of the Town’s “non-decision” on their hotel/convention centre application.
- Withdrawn their appeals to the Conservation Review Board (CRB) of the previous Council’s notices of intention to designate 144 and 176 John Street East under the Ontario Heritage Act in August of 2018.
- Put a for sale sign on 144/176 John Street.
The Marotta group has not to our knowledge withdrawn their hotel/convention centre application with the Town.
As recently reported, the Marotta group has filed an application with the Town for a high-density subdivision on the back half of the Rand Estate. They have maintained their appeal to the CRB of the Town’s notices of intention to designate the back half of the Rand Estate under the Heritage Act. That appeal will likely be heard in early 2021. Mr. Marotta’s companies have also maintained their appeal to the Court of Appeal of the Town’s notices of intent to designate all four Randwood properties. That appeal may be heard as early as December.
The 144/176 John St property is listed for $19 million, almost three times the $7.25 million paid for the property by Mr. Marotta’s company just three and a half years ago. Whether this is a bona fide attempt to sell the property we leave to others. We do not think property values have tripled in NOTL in the last 3 years.
The listing was accompanied by a “press release” by a representative of Mr. Marotta’s companies that blames the Town and SORE for his inability to proceed with the hotel/convention centre as he has proposed it. Mr. Marotta knew full well what was narrowly approved for the Rand Estate by Council in 2011 – a three-story boutique hotel that respected the numerous significant heritage attributes of the Rand Estate. Mr. Marotta, an experienced real estate developer, was well aware that his proposal to build a 6+ story hotel and convention centre and a high-density subdivision on one of the most important properties in NOTL represented a significant change from the heavily-negotiated compromise that led Council to narrowly approve the Romance Inn proposal. He would also have known that the approval of the Town and the community would be required and that heritage is a matter of considerable importance in Old Town NOTL. This is not the first time Mr. Marotta has faced pushback from a community over his plans. See the Benny Marotta media archive page on the SORE website.
SORE is not opposed to responsible and appropriate development at the Rand Estate; quite the contrary. Our corporate objective includes “responsible development” of this important property. What we are opposed to is clear-cutting a broad swath of the Rand Estate in alleged contravention of the Heritage Act (for which the Marotta companies are now being prosecuted by the Town) and a massive and inappropriate overbuild of commercial facilities and high density housing on a property of local, provincial and national significance.
Mr. Marotta clearly intends to pursue his proposed Rand Estate subdivision and we will not be at all surprised to see his hotel and convention centre make a return appearance. We do not intend to be bullied into submission and we assume our elected Council has a similar view. If Mr. Marotta ever decides to stop litigating and come forward with a reasonable proposal that respects the important heritage attributes of the Rand Estate, SORE as always would be happy to be involved in a public discussion on the merits of that proposal.