The developer behind a proposed conference hotel in downtown Nanaimo says the project is moving ahead.
Cameron Gunter, founder and chief executive officer of PEG Developments, made a brief presentation to councillors during a council meeting on Dec. 16, providing background on the project and hinted that construction could begin in January.
“We are on our way,” he said. “Our intent is with the city, is to do a groundbreaking sometime after the first of the new year.”
Gunter said PEG wants to see the Nanaimo hotel open in 2021.
The Utah-based company wants to build a $23-million nine-storey Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 100 Gordon St., a vacant piece of land across from the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Construction on the hotel was expected to start earlier this year, but PEG has delayed the project because of rising costs.
During Monday’s meeting, Gunter said they want to see the hotel open in 2021 but didn’t provide any other specific dates or mention the looming building permit expiration. Instead, he told councillors that some site work will begin in “the meantime” and that a ceremony will definitely take place.
“Don’t think we are not going to have a ceremony, we think that is very important to be able to celebrate this long haul for all of us and you,” he said.
According to a construction timeline for the project, which is available on the city’s website, PEG plans to begin “site clearing activities” on the Gordon Street property on Boxing Day.
PEG has built a number of hotels in North America, including a Courtyard by Marriott in Prince George.
Gunter said the downtown Nanaimo hotel is similar to one of PEG’s hotels in Salt Lake City, a Courtyard by Marriott, located beside that city’s convention centre and the Vivint Smart Home Arena, where the Utah Jazz professional basketball team plays its home games.
“They are very similar size and the number of rooms,” Gunter said. “This property performs very, very well; once again it is next to the convention centre in Salt Lake City, which is a much, much larger convention centre, but still.”
Gunter believes the Nanaimo hotel will be able to generate more business for the convention centre, and tourism in the city. He also said he likes that it is close to the Coast Bastion Hotel.
“We are excited to be in a market with other hotels,” Gunter said. “This one is next to a Coast [hotel] and it is good competition for us and hopefully for them too.”
Following Gunter’s presentation, councillors asked about timelines and Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said he is “delighted” to see the hotel project move forward.
“There are two projects this community would really like to see succeed quickly. One is the fast ferries and yours is the other,” Krog said. “Which is the most important, I can’t possibly comment, but let me assure you that we would welcome both to proceed in tandem.”
PEG’s building permit is set to expire on Dec. 31 provided it hasn’t begun construction by that time.
Bill Corsan, the city’s director of development, said PEG can’t simply erect a fence around the property and call it a day, they actually have to do “continuous” construction in order to avoid losing their building permit.
“If they just grub the site and disappear for six months, that is not construction,” he said. “But we can see there is a continuous process here and you have to grub the site before you start doing foundation work and we understand that.”
Corsan said even though PEG has provided staff with a timeline, he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“The day I’m looking at the building on opening day is the day I will be very excited,” he said. “If they follow the schedule they’ve showed us then they will be well down the path by May anyway, so that is exciting.”