Historic Esquimalt Inn for sale along with property for $6.75M

The historic English Inn in Esquimalt is for sale at an undisclosed price, along with a neighbouring three-acre property listed at $6.75 million.

The original four-acre-plus site at 429 Lampson St. is being subdivided to attract specific types of buyers. The entire property was rezoned last year following unsuccessful efforts to sell it as it was.

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It makes sense to split up the property, said Brian Chelin, a principal at property owner Lanyard Group of Companies, on Tuesday.

“You really had two properties rolled into one. You had a development property and you had a hotel property. … They are different kinds of players.”

Chelin hopes to see the Samuel Maclure-designed mansion run as a boutique hotel. The remaining 3.2 acres is being marketed with development potential under zoning that allows for multi-family and single-family residential, townhouses, congregate care for seniors and hotel use. The maximum permitted height is six storeys.

Chelin anticipates the subdivision process with the municipality of Esquimalt will be completed by the end of April.

The hotel is going on the market this week, said Mark Sparrow, director of hotels for Western Canada for CBRE.

“It’s a unique opportunity to purchase a historic property that is well-entrenched in the neighbourhood,” Sparrow said.

Fourteen hotel rooms are now open, and there’s the ability to bring seven more back into service, he said.

The inn was substantially renovated in 2006. It is also used for weddings and events and has capacity for up to 150 guests. He suggests that an owner-operator could make use of the upgraded food and beverage facilities.

Similar to some other hotels that have been listed in the region in recent times, no price has been set.

The 21Ú2 -storey Tudor revival inn, originally called Rosemead, was built in 1909 as a home for businessman Thomas Henry Slater and his wife, Elizabeth.

After the Second World War, tourism promoter Sam Lane and his wife, Rosina, bought it, converting it into a guesthouse and naming it the Olde England Inn. They added several buildings to create an English-style commercial village and had staff dress in Shakespearean outfits.

This property has changed hands through the years, with Lanyard, which provided financing for previous owners, taking it on after it went into receivership. Lanyard launched the rezoning plan, which included heritage designation of the inn.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins likens the concept for the development parcel as similar to some areas of Whistler or Bear Mountain, where the condominiums are located.

“I think that property would really lend itself to that kind of redevelopment and would be an addition to the area,” Desjardins said.

The development site “brings to that area a higher density, which would also then support something happening at the English Inn, like a local pub.”

Its location is about half-way between the village part of Esquimalt and West Bay, giving people a place to stop when travelling that route, Dejardins said.

“It is really a catalyst for a number of things that could tie in our different nodes of activities. … That property has so much opportunity.”

Inn manager Heather Greenlees said the inn has been full most weekends since September and has also been doing well on weekdays. She is concentrating on increasing business, saying weddings are being booked into 2016.

As Greenlees oversaw an event on Tuesday, she said: “We are looking at a very, very busy wedding season.”

The inn’s restaurant is not open at this time, but that is something that Greenlees would like to see in the future.

To bring in further revenue, 20 tenants are renting space in other rooms on the property, she said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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