The Hallmark guy had quite a presentation, video and all, got a lot in in 10 minutes. A bit too dramatic for my liking, but then I'm biased in favour of the thing.
To those who listened well, the "Hallmark guy" (me) was against the rezoning as it did not meet the OCP and the Downtown Core Area Plan. He detailed each clause where it did not meet these plans and explained how, in the City of Victoria, a developer can "buy" exemptions by providing amenities to the City. In this instance, these amenities include restoring the historic facade, improving the open public space (where the urinal is), and seismically upgrading the old hotel (or what will remain of it). You may wish to note that an amenity can include cash - what is considered a bribe in many international organizations. So in Victoria one can "buy" more height and density.
I showed examples in Victoria and elsewhere where modern additions have been made to historic structures successfully and blended in well. As it is about context, I cited the McPherson Theatre, City Hall, and the CRD building.
The re-development of the Plaza Hotel is needed. The space adjacent is under-utilized. A new building would help the area. But not this building. The architecture is poor and incompatible with the surrounding structures. The design is unsympathetic to what we see in the Old Town Core. The proposed structure would fit in well anywhere east of Douglas street and may well be an excellent design in that area and could have an additional three stories added.
But it doesn't work well here - excess curtain wall along Pandora, larger precast concrete elements, painted concrete to resemble masonry. the Architect stated they were trying to pick up historic architectural elements from the Plaza Hotel facade - they failed.
The Hallmark Society was AGAINST THE REZONING - AGAINST THE HERITAGE REVITALIZATION AGREEMENT AND AGAINST THE HERITAGE DESIGNATION.
No amount of designation can make up for poor architecture. We needed a better design.