Downtown hotel site sold; mixed use planned

The Victoria Plaza Hotel has new owners and they are envisioning a new life for the derelict site that bridges the downtown core with Chinatown while offering a link to the city’s past.

Nick Askew, managing principal of Ocean Gate Developments, which is buying the hotel for $5.2 million, said there’s a great opportunity with the site.

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They don’t have a hard plan yet, but it will be a mixed-use project with residential on several floors and commercial space at grade.

“I would think the design we would like to see there is to maintain the Old Town charm,” Askew said. “It seems to be that last piece that bridges Chinatown to Government Street.”

The Victoria Plaza Hotel, at the corner of Government Street and Pandora Avenue, turns 107 this year and until Ocean Gate stepped up, it had languished on the market since spring 2014.

The 65-room building, formerly home to Monty’s Showroom Pub and Cabin 12 restaurant, was listed for $5.8 million before being reduced first to $5.59 million and then to $5.19 million.

Askew said the location was the appeal of the building. “The downtown location is absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better location given the proximity to Chinatown, the McPherson Playhouse and Government Street,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of new, young, vibrant things happening in the area that I think a lot of younger-at-heart people will really appreciate, not just those who are sub-30 [years old].”

No matter what kind of design Ocean Gate opts for, the developers will have to retain a heritage wall that faces Government Street.

Askew would not rule out rental accommodation, but said there is likely to be a market for condominiums in that area.

The hotel was to have been reimagined as a mixed-use development, but after receiving city approval for rezoning in 2013, those plans, which included residential units, retail spots and public space within the building’s 16,000-square-foot footprint, were shelved when the money dried up.

The money was coming from the now-bankrupt League group of companies.

League had planned to purchase the hotel and finance the redevelopment in partnership with GMC Projects. When League filed for creditor protection in fall 2013, it was unable to go forward with the purchase and the deal did not close.

Ocean Gate expects its deal to close in late September. Askew said if that goes well, he hopes to be building on the site in 2017.

The hotel has been owned by the Thio family of Vancouver since the late 1990s.

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