Staff with the City of St. John's are recommending that council make amendments to the city plan and its regulations to allow a major upgrade to a long-controversial downtown parking garage.

The owners of the Atlantic Place Parking Garage would like to add three storeys to the eight-storey structure, to make room for a hotel or apartment complex.

The design, which was unveiled in the spring, will be up for discussion at Tuesday evening's council meeting.

A public meeting was held in late October. No one spoke out against the plan at the meeting, which drew only a small crowd.  

If the plan is approved, the Halifax-based Sonco Group would like to eliminate about 50 of the 720 parking spaces in the complex.

Documents submitted to council show that a boutique hotel with up to 150 rooms would be built, if the developer pursues that route. 

The hotel entrance and a two-level atrium would be located on Water Street, with a terraced structure atop the existing parking garage.

The garage, like the adjacent Atlantic Place complex, has often been described through the decades as an ugly structure. The Sonco proposal says the design by architect Philip Pratt "improves the overall image of the garage" and "animates the area with more activity." 

To allow for the development, the city will need to obtain the approval of the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs because of a proposed change to the city plan.