St. John’s city council has approved in principle the expansion of downtown’s Scotia Centre.
Earlier this month, council gave the go-head for East Port Properties to add a three-storey building to the 235 Water St. property.
“The extension will be constructed on the podium deck, or open space, that faces Water Street,” said Coun. Tom Hann at city council’s Jan. 6 meeting. “The development will consist of three storeys, and will create over 2,600 square metres of floor area, which includes Class A office space and retail space at the street level.”
The amount of open space left after the construction will remain open to the public, said Hann. “The plan is to revitalize the podium space at the rear of the building facing Harbour Drive, what is known as Ayer’s Lane. It’s also proposed for redevelopment.”
Under downtown parking guidelines, the development would require 36 parking spaces to be created, but the developer is considering payment in lieu, said Hann.
The proposal was in front of the city’s standing committee on planning and development in December, which recommended approval, attaching the conditions that the developer submit landscape design and art work for the remaining podium space, discuss parking options, and that council schedule a public meeting on the application.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said more parking spaces are being created downtown, but the city is also starting to see more applications from developers who plan payments in lieu of parking spaces in their proposals.
“We’ve got to have a serious look at that before we end up defeating what we’ve created, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Hann noted that the city hasn’t actually accepted any proposals with payments in lieu yet, “but there are three or four on the books.”
“Staff is always looking at it from the point of, what can we do as an alternative to payment in lieu?” he said. “Can we find parking elsewhere? Can we find parking in some of the new parking garages? Can they find parking in Atlantic Place and so on? Staff is always aware of the situation of trying not to erode any advancement that we’ve done in terms of identifying parking spaces in the downtown.”
Council voted to accept the planning and development committee report’s recommendations.