Prospective purchasers of Monty’s and Plaza Hotel envision change

If the deal goes through, the changeover would represent a new era for the 101-year-old hotel.

  • Jul. 6, 2011 1:00 p.m.

The Victoria Plaza Hotel and Monty’s Showroom Pub may soon change hands.

Griffiths Milne Clough Projects Inc., known as GMC,  is negotiating to purchase the property at 603 Pandora Ave. and 1415 Government St.

On Wednesday, it submitted a rezoning application to the Downtown Residents’ Association for review, according to company principal Lorne Milne.

If the deal goes through, the changeover would represent a new era for the 101-year-old hotel.

The establishment has been both famous and infamous during its various incarnations.

It first opened as the Westholme Hotel in 1910.

In the 1960s, as City Hall marked Victoria’s 100th birthday with the Centennial Square project, the hotel launched a major expansion and rebranded as the Century Inn. It featured fine dining and luxurious rooms in an Arabian theme, according to Glen Mofford who provides an online account of the history.

“Customers to the hotel were greeted by employees dressed as genies, complete with turbans … (and) waitresses served patrons clad in mysterious and revealing Scheherazade costumes,” he wrote in his blog, “The Century Inn was a huge success.”

In the 1980s, new owners lent the name Monty’s to the establishment, and launched extensive renovations but went bankrupt within one year.

“Although the Westholme Hotel has lost much of its original architectural detailing, it adds to the continuity of the historic street wall, and provides a connection between historic Government Street and nearby Centennial Square,” according to Steve Barber, Victoria’s senior heritage planner.

Milne could not share details of his proposal due to a confidentiality agreement signed with the current owners.

The low-end hotel – advertising rooms for $54.95 – and strip club have been a constant concern for Victoria police.

During the last year, police have responded to approximately 50 calls on the property ranging from lost property to violent assaults.

“We … have been very disappointed with the lack of co-operation with Monty’s,” said police spokesperson Const. Mike Russell. “We have approached them on numerous occasions about joining Bar Watch but have been turned down on all of those requests.”

GMC, which has offices in Vancouver and Victoria, acquires and develops real estate projects by employing “the services of third-party consultants to the greatest extent possible,” according to the corporation’s website. In 2005, it developed the Upper Harbour Place office building on Tyee Road, with an estimated cost of $20 million, according to the provincial government’s major projects inventory.