A proposal to put a boutique hotel on Duckworth Street in downtown St. John's attracted passionate opinions during a public hearing on Tuesday night.

Republic Properties Inc., the company behind the Light House project, also wants to create commercial and residential space with room for parking.

The proposal would involve both sides of the east end of Duckworth Street, with one of the properties going on a now-closed fire station near Ordnance Street.

One of the buildings would be six storeys high, while the other would be four storeys.

City resident Hubert Alacoque, one of about 65 people to attend the meeting, said he saw nothing to fear in the proposal, which will also see a former bar knocked down and replaced by a new structure.

"Why is it such a tragedy to replace two buildings that have actually no architectural character with something that will enhance the cityscape?" he said.

City council voted unanimously in October to support the project, which is now undergoing regulatory review. An independent commissioner chaired the meeting on the development, which still has to go back to council for final approval.

The hope of having it overturned drew some opponents, who said the buildings will come too close to the curb and will thus overpower the rest of the heritage neighbourhood.

Writer fears loss of neighbourhood

Author Bernice Morgan, who lives near the proposed development, said she fears for the future of what she described as a thriving, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood that draws tourists from around the world.

Bernice Morgan

Writer Bernice Morgan joked that city council will allow new, large buildings and then commission a mural to show what Duckworth Street used to look like. (CBC)

"People won't want to walk along that street," she said of pending construction. "It will make life in nearby homes hell. It will make life in my home hell."

Morgan said the long-term consequences could also be formidable, including the loss of small businesses. "What is today one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city will be lost."

Morgan joked that once more large buildings are erected, council "will commission a mural of all those little shops and people walking along the street."

To give the project final approval, city council needs to amend its municipal regulations to allow the mix of developments in the Light House proposal.