Four make bid official for CPR Terminal building

Four applicants now have their fingers crossed they will be the chosen one to move into the CPR Steamship Terminal building.

Four applicants now have their fingers crossed they will be the chosen one to move into the CPR Steamship Terminal building.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is the latest to submit its application to property landlord, the Provincial Capital Commission, on deadline day – last Friday.

Bob Wright of Oak Bay Marine Group, the Maritime Museum of B.C. and Matt MacNeil of Vic Pub Co. were the original three to apply for tenancy at the Belleville Street building.

The commission cancelled the process in the spring because the applications didn’t meet its requirements. On Monday, Wright and museum officials confirmed their continued interest.

The harbour authority is proposing one full restaurant, a light-menu eatery, up to three high-end tourism retail stores and exhibit and attraction space for the first and second floors. Offices, though not those belonging to the authority, would go in on the third and fourth levels.

“The idea is to get life and activity in the building year-round,” said CEO Curtis Grad. “For 40 years it’s been pay-on-entry and we’d like to bring levels one and two back to public use.”

In its proposal, the not-for-profit outlined a broader vision to one day have departing ferry passengers walk through the CPR building into a new single ferry terminal next door. That would replace and consolidate the Black Ball and Victoria Clipper ferry terminals, which currently operate on Provincial Capital Commission-managed property.

If those terminals come down, a portion of the property could be developed into civic space, said Grad.

“Museum, performing arts, festival space, (space for) First Nations – there are a number of ideas that need to be vetted with all the stakeholders,” he said.

The Provincial Capital Commission’s board of directors will choose the site’s tenant on Nov. 24. Leasing negotiations should finish in December, and the tenant will be able to start preparing the building in January so that it can move in later in the year.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Museum of B.C. has said it has funding partners waiting in the wings to help fund its plan to move to the building, if its application is approved.

It’s estimated the move to the Inner Harbour would bring 125,000 visitors a year through its doors, up from the 20,000 people who visit its current Bastion Square location.

“We desperately need a new attraction downtown. We’ve lost a lot of attractions in the last 20 years,” said Jamie Webb, president of the non-profit Maritime Museum of B.C. Foundation. “You’ve got to give people a reason to stay another day, or come period.”

Matt MacNeil, Vic Pub Co. owner, did not respond to interview requests.

emccracken@vicnews.com