New Hotel Downtown’s Existence Still Uncertain

I found the following article in the Times Colonist. I have read quite a few earlier articles that were heading in the same direction, but I don’t like to post conjecture. I have to express a little frustration with the prospect of the hotel not going through, but I’m sure the people at the Coast Bastion, the Dorchester,  the new Ramada and the other hotels in the immediate vicinity aren’t complaining about not getting the competition.

From what I’ve seen and heard about the new conference centre downtown, it’s quite active and doing well. Only, it would be nice to see the rest of the plans followed through with and not leave us with an empty lot in the middle of everything downtown.  It’s starting to look really nice down there and I’ve been excited to see so many positive changes in the downtown area over the past couple of years.

Ryan Coffey

Problems for Nanaimo hotel project

Politicians are uneasy — but cautiously tight-lipped — after more financial bad news for the developer that is supposed to be building a downtown hotel adjacent to the brand-new convention centre.

Fortress Investment pulled its financing for Millennium Developments amid rising construction costs, worsened by the recession.

Nanaimo contracted Millennium to build a hotel for the convention centre. That project has been postponed repeatedly since January 2007.

This is more bad news for Nanaimo city council, which served Millennium with a 30-day default notice on the hotel project in December.

Coun. Fred Pattje, who opposed the conference centre plan for downtown revitalization, said he would honour an agreement with Millennium not to comment until after that 30-day period ends. But he acknowledged concern with the news.

“It’s scary stuff, really scary stuff,” Pattje said.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan expressed similar concerns about speaking during the default period, but he also had concerns about this latest development.

“I don’t know that it’s something we should be concerned about but it’s an ominous sign,” Ruttan said.

“Are they going to announce that they can’t complete the hotel?

“In light of the media reports coming in from Vancouver, while we would like to hear they will proceed with the hotel project, these signals are ominous and I’m hoping when we are back it will be good news but it’s a challenge,” he added.

“I guess we’ll know in two weeks.”

Yesterday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a plea to the provincial government to recall the legislature immediately to revise the city charter.

The mayor was seeking to allow Vancouver to borrow $458 million to finish the Olympic athlete’s village.

If the agreement falls apart in Nanaimo, the city would have go after Millennium for project management fees, development fees and other expenses paid already that are worth more than $3 million.

Then the city would start looking for a new partner.

Millennium, which got the Gordon Street hotel property from the city for $10, would have to return it and lose its claim to the foundry/Civic Arena site, worth $9 million. Millennium planned to build two highrise condominium towers there.

“If at the end of the (period) they are in default we will contact them and give them a last chance to explain whether they do or don’t expect to complete and then we can look at alternatives.

“But that will ultimately put the project back two or three years,” Ruttan said.

Yesterday, Nanaimo city council also agreed to extend the 30-day period until Jan. 26 from Jan. 19, to account for work days lost over the Christmas vacation period.

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