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Six-storey hotel proposed for downtown Nanaimo

A rendering of the proposed hotel on 15 Front St.  - File
A rendering of the proposed hotel on 15 Front St.
— image credit: File

Downtown Nanaimo could be home to a brand-new hotel.

A development application for a proposed six-storey, 90-unit hotel on 15 Front St. has been submitted to City of Nanaimo staff. 

If approved, the L-shaped hotel would stand 19.8 metres high at the corner of Front and Chapel streets, where the former Katerina's restaurant was located. 

Designed by Victoria-based Moore Wilson Architects, the hotel's main features include a private courtyard for guests, a sky bar on the sixth floor and ground-level retail space for either a restaurant or a coffee shop.

“We are really trying to create a project that animates the corner and provides active activity on the street level,” said Tom Moore, principal architect. 

The hotel's interior will features timber framing and and is partially inspired by Nanaimo's rich coal mining heritage. 

“The thinking behind it was the framing of the mine shafts and the mining activities that were below the city and in some areas below the site,” he said. “Heavy timber was used to reinforce those mine shafts as the miners went through city looking for coal and following the coal seams.”

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Above: Additional renderings of the proposed hotel on Front Street.

Timber isn't the only design element that pays tribute to the Harbour City's mining heritage.

“There are some rich charcoal-like floor finishes that extend into the street, which are again, kind of representative of the coal seams that sort of wind their way under the city," Moore said.

The base of the building will include two entrances, one of the hotel and one for a commercial space, which has been designed to allow for an outdoor patio along Front Street, according to Moore.

“The building has been set back from the street to encourage outdoor seating,” he said.

Moore said the overall value of the project is around $15 million. He said the hotel still needs final approval before construction can begin, but could open by the first half of 2018.

“Our planned opening is in early summer or spring of 2018,” he said. “Our clients are very intent in getting the hotel built and they are funded to do so. It’s just a matter of getting the final city approvals.”

No major hotel chain has come forward to manage the building, according to Moore.

“We haven’t flagged the building or entered into an agreement for management of the hotel,” he said. “I think our clients will end up managing it themselves, but you never know. But I don’t think it would be difficult for our clients to get interest.”

Nanaimo Coun. Jerry Hong, who is on the city's design advisory committee, said he's excited that a hotel will be coming to downtown Nanaimo.

“It’s going to be an amazing addition,” he said.

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