Hilton hotel developers no longer need to lease Nanaimo green space.
Insight Holdings Ltd. has tweaked its plans for the use of Georgia Park in its waterfront hotel project and no longer requires a 60-year lease with the city.
Last year, the company was looking to take up 28 per cent of Georgia Park for a loading dock, restaurant patio and grand staircase. The changes then were valued at $1.5 million and would have added to $1.2 million in improvements already promised for other areas of waterfront parkland.
As part of the agreement, the amenities would have remained open to the public and the city was prepared to make the developers responsible for maintenance and rent.
Now an alternative is being proposed after ‘considerable opposition’ to the leasing of parkland, a city report shows.
The pitch is to see politicians withdraw approval-in-principle for a lease agreement and expand a statutory right of way to cover improvements instead. The move would see the same amount of money invested into park amenities like a staircase and public plaza, but it would be part of a public thoroughfare through the hotel from Front Street and would remain city property. A loading dock and restaurant patio is no longer slated for Georgia Park and developers would be responsible for maintaining any improvements it creates.
The lack of a lease also means there won’t be a referendum.
The pitch went to council for debate Monday night.
According to Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, under the proposal developers won’t end up with exclusive rights to use the park for non-park uses but will benefit from certainty.
“They’ve revised their project and they know they can do it on their property now,” he said. “The applicants were hearing some of the concerns in the community that were being raised about the concept of leasing park space for uses that were ancillary to the hotel and as a result they took a step back and revised their project to eliminate the need for those lease areas.”
The multimillion-dollar Hilton hotel is planned to rise 35 storeys from the Nanaimo waterfront, with 303 rooms, a health club and bar/café, two restaurants and eight retail units.
A city report says it’s anticipated a development permit will come from the hotel in the coming months and a building permit will be submitted by this fall. Construction is scheduled to start in early 2016.
Insight Holdings said the company did not have a comment at this time.