New hotel breaks ground next to Nanaimo’s conference centre

WatchA long awaited new hotel has broken ground next to downtown Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The hotel has been in the planning stages for ten years, yet failed to get off the ground after several developers pulled out.

Snuneynuxw Chief Michael Wyse smiled proudly as partners broke ground on a long-planned hotel project on downtown Nanaimo’s Gordon Street Wednesday.

“All in all it’s just a good thing that’s moving forward for Snuneymuxw and the City of Nanaimo,” said Chief Michael Wise.

“It puts us into a whole new market,” said Kim Smith of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a real elevation.”

The hotel is over a decade in the making. The building was originally intended to open with the Vancouver Island Conference Centre that’s been operating since 2008.

But development plans never went past that stage, one developer even went bankrupt in the wake of the 2008 global recession.

Then U.S. based PEG Developments bought the land last year, and with a building permit in hand, the $23-million dollar, 9 storey, 172 room hotel, is now moving ahead.

“We really like it, said PEG Developments Cameron Gunter.

“And so it’s just taken some time to get the design done,” he said.

It’s all with the partnership of the Snuneymuxw First Nations.

“We own about 15 per cent share of the project here,” said Coun. Erralyn Joseph of Snuneymuxw First Nation.

“And we also have arrangements to support job creation for our people and participate in the food and beverage service.”

The hotel will be one of three underway in downtown Nanaimo. A 45 room boutique hotel on Selby Street will open in April. And on Front Street a six-storey hotel is about to break ground.

The buildings are signs of increasing confidence in the city’s downtown and investment that has long been hoped for.

“All’s well that ends well,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

“Today we have a hotel under construction next to our conference centre. It’s everything the city wanted.”

The new hotel, which will be run by Marriott, is slated to open in summer 2021.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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