The renovated CPR Steamship Terminal building, after a long and sometimes contentious search, has an anchor tenant — an indoor and outdoor waterfront restaurant that will feature micro-brews and wine on tap.
“It is going to be spectacular,” said Wayne Holm, partner in the Extra Mile Hospitality Group, which will open its fourth Romer’s restaurant in the historic Belleville Street building. “We are beside ourselves.”
Romer’s Waterfront Tap Room will hold 100 seats indoors, on the level accessible from the street, plus another 100 outdoors on a new deck, which can be used five or more months a year, depending on weather, Holm said Tuesday.
“It’s a unique situation which really contributes to helping define it as a destination,” Holm said.
Romer’s could be open Aug. 1, or possibly earlier, he said. It is difficult to say because of the permits and work required.
The company has opened two restaurants under the Romer’s Burger Bar banner and is opening a third in Feburary, all in the Vancouver area. In Victoria, the Romer’s will be a little less casual than the burger bars.
Holm, a member of the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame, has a string of successes. They include part-ownership in the Keg, co-founder of the Spectra Group of Great Restaurants, president of Cara’s restaurant group, and co-founder of Milestones. Chef Jim Romer and restaurant entrepreneur Scott Ward, part of the original Milestones development group, are partners with Holm in Extra Mile Hospitality.
The Steamship Terminal, an Inner Harbour landmark with its columns and temple-like motif, was designed by architects P.L. James and Francis Rattenbury, and opened in 1924.
For decades, it was a gateway for people travelling by sea to and from Victoria.
The Royal London Wax Museum moved in as the main tenant in 1969. In 2010, the Provincial Capital Commission, the building’s landlord, forced the museum out to allow for a seismic upgrade. While that work went on, the commission sought new uses for the building.
It fielded proposals for a maritime museum, a marketplace, a restaurant and an attraction focusing on B.C. history.
The commission, which was showered with suggestions from the public, eventually signed a deal with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
The authority said it would bring together a mix of shops, food and beverage outlets, exhibition space and offices. For the longer term, it said it would explore returning the building to use as a terminal.
Romer’s will use 3,500 square feet indoors and 2,000 square feet on an outdoor deck. The building’s total space is about 21,000 square feet.
“It’s going to be phenomenal,” harbour authority CEO Curtis Grad said of the Romer’s project. “This will probably be the meeting place in Victoria for people who just want to watch the world go by.”
The public will be able to walk into the second level from Belleville Street and go to a coffee bar, an exhibits area and retail spaces that are still to be leased.
The other major tenant signed so far is the Bateman Foundation. It is finishing renovations to the third and fourth levels for an art gallery and offices, and will have a retail presence on the second level.
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