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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Developer submits revised proposal for Randwood

Developer Benny Marotta has submitted a revised application for the hotel he hopes to build on the historic Randwood Estate, with what he calls “a completely new design.”

“We've been paying attention to people and what they wanted to see,” he said.

He believes the new design is “appealing and timeless.”

“In 20 years it will look even better than today. We kept that in mind when we designed it.”

His original proposal drew criticism from many who said the hotel was too tall, with a design that was inappropriate and out of character for the John Street heritage property and for Niagara-on-the-Lake. In addition to the hotel, he is planning to renovate the main building to be used as a health and wellness centre, and the coach house as a chapel. 

The revised application is for a hotel that is six storeys in the middle, flanked by five storeys, then goes down to three, he said.

He will still require the zoning amendment he requested with his first application to increase the height of the hotel from the 57 feet that is currently allowed.

Marotta said he had hoped to meet with members of the Town's Municipal Heritage Committee to receive some help with the design, “but we never had a chance to do that, so we did it ourselves.”

The original drawing that was widely circulated and criticized was not what he had ever intended to build, he said.

“We have a very exciting project which will make Randwood shine – it deserves it.”

The property has been ignored for too long, and he plans to turn it into something the Old Town also deserves, he said.

He showed it to a group of people who were invited on a tour of the property about a week ago, including nearby residents, “and everybody who was there that I saw was very happy.”

He said there will always be some people who won't be happy with it, but there are some people who “no matter what you do, they won't be happy.”

His original application was for a 145-room hotel, and he's still planning for 145 rooms.

The height, he said, is necessary to make it “more architecturally appealing.”

He has also said in the past that six storeys are needed to accommodate enough rooms to make the hotel financially viable, and without the height, the building would require a larger footprint on the property.

Craig Larmour, the Town's planning director, said he received Marotta's revised submission a little more than a week ago, and his department will be reviewing it to ensure it meets the direction of the Town's municipal heritage committee and urban design committee. Once he's sure it meets those requirements, it will be posted on the town's website, he said.

Outlining the process for a revised submission for councillors, Larmour explained another open house and public meeting will be held. The revised application will also be subject to review by the MHC and the urban design committee, he said.

Coun. Betty Disero, after talking to Larmour, said it's sounding like it will be a new council who will deal with the rezoning application and site plan approval for the Randwood Estate.

The 150 days the Town has to deal with an application for rezoning has passed, she said.

The clock has stopped ticking, and it doesn't start again for a revised application, she explained.

She believes the open house will not likely be held until September, and the public meeting could be held during the current term of council.

“It's likely the new council will be determining the decision on zoning and the site plan application.”



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