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20-storey hotel approved for downtown Victoria

Hotel will occupy corner of Fort and Blanshard streets
Renderings show the future plan for a 20-storey hotel on the corner of Fort and Blanshard streets and upgrades to a heritage apartment next to it. (Courtesy of Merchant House Capital)

A 20-storey triangular-shaped hotel is set to spring from the block next to St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Victoria following approval from city council Nov. 4.

The Wintergarden Hotel will sit on the corner of Fort and Blanshard streets and offer 128 hotel suites, along with a glass and timber ground-floor terrace, restaurant, bar and cafe.

At the same time, the developer Merchant House Capital has also received approval to upgrade the Montrose Apartments next to the hotel site, on the corner of Blanshard and View streets. The heritage building, which contains ground-floor retail space and 21 apartment units, will undergo a facelift to return its exterior to its original look and make some safety adjustments.

The project received some push back from area residents and the Downtown Victoria Residents Association (DVRA), who expressed concerns around the height of the building, increased density and obstructing views of St. Andrew’s. The director of the DVRA, Ian Sutherland, also pointed out the developer’s plans for the Montrose Apartments don’t include a full seismic upgrade and could leave tenants at risk in the case of an earthquake.

In response, the CEO of Merchant House Capital, David Fullbrock said a full seismic upgrade would have required stripping the building nearly to its studs, the cost of which would make the project unviable.

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Expressing support for the developments were Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey and Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray. Both noted the hotel will bring tourism to an area of downtown often neglected, and Nursey said the city needs to approve more hotels if it wants to draw conferences, events and sports gatherings to Victoria.

Council approved the plan on Nov. 4, with Coun. Ben Issit opposed to the rezoning and heritage designation motions. There is no timeline yet on construction at the two sites.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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