Investor hopes new 20-storey hotel can help ‘rejuvenate’ downtown Victoria

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One of Victoria’s busiest street corners is set to undergo a major transformation. Victoria City Council recently approved the development of a 20-storey, 31,000-square foot, 128-unit hotel located at the corner of Fort St. and Blanshard St.

“What we really are embarking on here, now, is a rejuvenation of the downtown, which is sorely needed,” said David Fullbrook, CEO of Merchant House Capital.

Fullbrook says his real estate investment firm selected the location due to its high density and potential.

“The design is very open, it really kind of opens up the boulevard and it’s intended to create place-making around Fort and Blanshard,” said Fullbrook.

Despite COVID-19 causing unprecedented challenges for the tourism industry with some hotels and motels forced to shut down or be turned into social housing, one expert told CHEK News there’s a reason for optimism.

“We are expecting full recovery within 3 years,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “Our market was a little underserved before the pandemic and we’ve lost some inventory so this is well-researched capital that’s made an informed decision to enter the market.”

“This is a sign of confidence in Victoria’s recovery for the long term,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

The Wintergarden and Spire hotel marks the second hotel development given the green light by council in the past three months. The other hotel will be located on Broad St.

“This hotel will stand here for the next hundred years or more,” said Helps. “To see this kind of investment coming at the end of the pandemic shows that Victoria and downtown Victoria has a real bright future and I’m excited about it.”

Part of the plan includes renovating the neighbouring 3-story, 21-unit Montrose Apartment building with the aim of preserving the rentals for sixty years. As for the hotel, Fullbrook says many details are still in the works, but the project will include office and commercial space. Also, the rooms will be based on micro-units which Fullbrook describes as “fully built out apartment suites,” allowing for flexibility down the road.

“It creates a kind of housing that can be both hotel housing, it can be extended stay housing and then the actual zoning allows for rental,” said Fullbrook, who emphasized the priority, for now, is solely to invest in a hotel.

The next steps for the project include a building permit and dealing with current tenants in the area. A timeline for construction has yet to be announced.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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