Deadline for hotel construction looms

NANAIMO – Company has until May 30 to lay foundation, says agreement with city.

A Nanaimo city councillor will “definitely entertain” a bid to claw back property from the conference centre hotel developer if a deadline to lay foundation isn’t met.

SSS Manhao has until the end of May to pour the foundation for its $50-million conference centre hotel or Nanaimo city council has the option to purchase the property. Coun. Gord Fuller plans to propose politicians flex that right.

It’s been more than nine months since the company announced the start of the construction phase of its hotel. The building permit application expired in December, the developer hasn’t reapplied and there’s been no recent discussion about a permit with the City of Nanaimo, according to Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development.

The lack of a building permit means no foundation can be laid and without one by May 30, the city can reclaim the site.

Mayor Bill McKay said he doesn’t want council to make any rash decisions. There are not “six other people” lined up to get the property and he said he believes the developer has a winning formula to make a hotel on that site successful.

But Fuller questions how long council is willing to “wait and see.”

“We go out of our way to offer great conditions and then nothing,” said Fuller, who believes the developer should be held to the agreement. “Unless they have some really, really, really, really good excuse, but I just can’t see it. I can’t see why they wouldn’t have contacted us by now to say that they weren’t going to be able to meet that deadline.”

Council needs something to show the developer is committed and “we just haven’t gotten it yet,” says Fuller.

McKay said things aren’t going as fast as he envisioned, but he understands SSS Manhao is still working on the project, including on design modifications and financing.

Council has to meet with the company to find out exactly where the project is at, McKay said.

Councillors Wendy Pratt and Bill Bestwick also want to talk to the developer.

Pratt says she hasn’t given up on the hotel or the conference centre, but doesn’t have enough information to say what decision council will have to make should the deadline not be met. Bestwick said he wants to hear SSS Manhao’s new dates, goals and objectives.

“I think we all have concerns and we have for some months with the deadlines that have not been met … and then what is next steps? Until such a time as I can hear what their new plan is, or isn’t or what their goals and objectives are … I don’t think any of us can make a balanced decision,” he said.