The historic Randwood Estate is back on the market with a price tag of $19 million.
The 13-plus acre historical estate, located at 144 John St. E. in Niagara-on-the-Lake, features a home originally built in 1825, along with mature trees and plant life. It currently belongs to Benny Marotta, who purchased it in 2016, along with 176 John St. E., the lot next door. He paid $8 million for both.
Marotta, who owns Solmar Development Corp. and Two Sisters Resorts, had proposed converting the property into a six-storey hotel and convention centre, complete with two levels of underground parking. It was a development that some in the community opposed, during a packed meeting at the NOTL Community Centre in January 2018, neighbours expressed concerns over the potential destruction of significant heritage features of the property, including historic trees.
While the proposed hotel and convention centre never became a reality, Marotta said the unique heritage of the property was part of the draw.
“Our intention was always to preserve the integrity of this heritage property and enhance its already robust landscape for guests and the community to enjoy, while creating a beautiful establishment that would elevate hospitality in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
In an emailed statement, Marotta said the decision to put the estate on the market wasn’t an easy one, but seemed like the only option given the current stalemate between the town, and the citizens’ group Save Our Randwood Estate (SORE), who had long opposed development on the property.
“Arriving at this decision was very difficult, but it is apparent that there is no path to amicable discussion with either the Town or SORE.”
Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor Betty Disero said the news the estate would be back on the market came as a surprise, but said the town will continue to prioritize the protection of heritage now and in the future,
“The town’s position has always been that we need to determine heritage before we can move forward on discussing any type of development, and that will continue to be our position.”
Disero said she plans on meeting with town legal counsel tonight to determine what if any steps will be taken moving forward.
“The town needs to come to some sort of discussion on if there is anything else we need to do at this point. We just need to get a word from our legal counsel on what, if any, next steps there are for the town.”
The estate is listed for sale through Sotheby's Realty with an asking price of $19 million. Liesa Lepp is the listing agent.
"The Randwood Estate is an iconic piece of Niagara that feels like a step back in time. It is an experience unto itself," reads the listing description. "The commercial zoning provides an unparalleled development opportunity in the form of a world-class hotel, conference facility and spa/resort."
The property has had a number of prominent owners over the last two centuries, including Peter Russell, a member of the executive council of Upper Canada; American Civil War general Henry Lansing; Capt. Robert Melville of the Niagara Harbour and Dock Company fame; the Rand family; and more recently, world-class artist Trisha Romance.
Throughout the years, it has been used as a private home, a summer home, as well as a think tank for the Niagara Institute and a school of philosophy for a religious organization.
"The Randwood Estate is an untapped well of possibility," reads the listing.
Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News