Mount Pearl City Council has adopted amendments which will re-zone the area of McGrath House on Topsail Road to make way for a proposed Nissan dealership.
“The McGrath House is valued as a heritage resource by the City and clearly defined measures have been undertaken by the developer to identify, retain, preserve, protect and recognize the significant heritage value and the character defining elements of the building,” said Planning and Development Committee co-chairman Councillor Bill Antle, who motioned for council to adopt the amendments during the April 4 regular meeting of council.
Antle explained the developer intends to include a McGrath House public café in the new O’Neil Nissan dealership proposed for the location. Antle said the café would honour the rich history of the two storey-home which was originally built as a summer home by Patrick McGrath, a noted local political figure.
The new dealership was the subject of a public hearing on Jan. 31 where some residents in the area voiced concerns about increased traffic and the potential for flooding caused by the construction of the dealership. The proposed dealership will be a state of the art Nissan sales facility — one of the largest of its kind in the country and will replace the existing quarters nearby on Topsail Road. A second public hearing regarding the dealership is scheduled for April 19.
Mayor Dave Aker said McGrath House is an unfortunate victim of area urbanization.
“The character there on Topsail Road, all the way from the cemetery to the overpass, has dramatically changed over the years,” said Aker.
The mayor noted the dilapidated shape of the approximately one hundred year old building, which would cost approximately $300,000 to renovate and bring up to code.
“It’s been difficult to maintain a residential structure and use it in a commercial capacity,” said Aker.
The mayor voiced his support for O’Neil Motors’ plans to preserve the history of the McGrath House inside the new sales facility.
“In the spirit of capturing and maintaining some of the heritage in the city, I believe what O’Neil Motors is proposing, with the café, might be a good way of preserving it,” said Aker. “Maybe not the best — maybe this isn’t the ultimate outcome — but it is the best practical outcome under the circumstances.”
Deputy Mayor Jim Locke also took the opportunity to publically add his support for the plan to honour the historic site inside of the dealership.
“I think it’s great with what O’Neil (Motors) is planning on doing here with capturing that history in their café so that at least the story of McGrath House is not forgotten,” said Locke.