Crews are getting set to work on an 180-unit development on the grounds of the English Inn in Esquimalt in the coming weeks.
Aragon Properties purchased the roughly 3.25-acre property on Lampson Street about a year ago and will be making a number of changes to the site, beginning with the construction of the 180-unit condo development in the new year.
The popular English Inn, which is a heritage-designated building, will also undergo a series of upgrades, including the addition of a roughly 80 to 90-seat restaurant, extending the wine bar, updating the rooms and adding another 14 in the English-style Victorian-theme, redoing the floors and adding a spa. The gardens will also be upgraded to include a Garry Oak meadow and a Chinese garden.
All of the older buildings on the property, including Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s thatched cottage, Verona and the Carriage House, will be demolished as part of the four-phased development.
Plans are also being prepared for a park on Bewdeley Avenue, which will be arranged into two garden spaces, consisting of park benches and plantings.
But the project has not been without opposition. Some residents have expressed concern about preserving the historical and cultural value of the Inn.
Kimlee Needoba, executive assistant with Aragon Properties, said the building is in need of TLC and while upgrades will occur, they won’t be changing the look of the Inn.
“We don’t want to change the look of the Inn, but we just want to upgrade everything . . . I can ensure that the history and magical beauty of the Inn will remain untouched,” she said, noting their goal is to provide years of enjoyment to tourists and locals.
“We will be bringing it back to its original glory, but much better than anyone can imagine.”
This is the second project Aragon Properties is involved with in Esquimalt. The company is also involved with the development of the Esquimalt Village Project, which includes a library, commercial space and condos.
“We just love the community. Once you get the feel of Esquimalt, its residents, the people and the township, it’s a pretty amazing little place,” said Needoba, noting the township is in desperate need of rental and residential properties.
The Inn, which was originally called Rosemeade, was built by developer Thomas Harry Slater in 1906. Renowned residential architect Samuel McClure later designed the Tudor revival home and is the only existing example of McClure’s work left in the township.
Upgrades on the English Inn will begin in fall 2018, while the entire project is expected to be complete in 2019.