Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kays to the "Welsh-Owen Hotel"....

We've been quietly working on this project for a number of months trying to "get all our ducks lined up" which might be a good expression to explain this project as it's been my experience with Downtown projects that there will always be some critics who love to take "shots" at anything new, but we're hoping that's not the case here... the media chased us down over the last few days so we decided to discuss it publicly knowing that a couple of big pieces of the puzzle still aren’t done and that’s a deal with CADC and a commitment from the Province that there will be a new Convention Centre built on the Transport Canada lands.
Here's a look at what we hope will be the finished product http://apm.ca/hotel.jpg subject to a deal with CADC and securing the proper permits... in planning the project we've tried to reach a balance between "scale" for the neighbourhood and economics for ourselves as they probably both have to work in order for this or any project to get off the ground... the project involves purchasing the former Seaman property, the vacant lot on the corner and the Kays property and our new scheme involves leaving the Seaman building as it is with the Cinema and other tenants "intact" and trying to utilize as much of the backyard space as a courtyard and pedestrian area as possible... we investigated utilizing the interior of the Kays property for the hotel but structural grids, fire code and life safety issues related to the transformation into hotel suites or offices make absolutely no economic sense.
So we're now engaging a local architectural and engineering firm to determine the best options to insure that the street exterior elevations will be retained in their original heritage condition as a “must” for the finished product... we believe we have to be quite conscientious from a historical prospective with the balance of the streetscape designs for both Queen and Water Streets so the project "fits in" with the surroundings... the return elevation on King Street will be the existing Kays structure joined by an elevated building which allows the parking lot behind Kays to be retained as a valet and courtyard, but adds to the buildings height along King in order to get back some of the economics on the project. The land assembly is a significant dollar figure and add on about $1,000,000 in extra costs to "preserve" the Kays elevations, coupled with the cost of putting a 63 unit parking garage underground and the scale of the project is “driven up” in order to get back a reasonable economic return.
Initially we had just envisioned a 120 room hotel which is a pretty standard size for a branded hotel like the new Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown Halifax http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-photos/yhzcy-courtyard-halifax-downtown/ which by the way is owned by Jim Lawley, my fellow Board member at Killam Properties... although some may think we should only go only four floors high it just doesn't make any economic sense so we added another floor with 14 additional "furnished apartments" like we're doing with Killam Properties in other Atlantic cities http://www.killamproperties.com/furnished-suites but in doing so we stepped the elevation treatment back about 12 feet from the street so it won't be as visible... we also added 6 condos on a very small 6th floor footprint which is also stepped further back from the street.
On the ground floor we've added some commercial space as "hotel rooms" on the ground elevations are just not accepted by hotel guests in a Downtown setting, but the good news is that the Confederation Bridge group and a financial business have taken us up on our offer which helps in making the project a reality... the hotel will have all the standard amenities like a pool, conference room, 4 meeting rooms, guest lounge, common areas and a full breakfast cafe, but no restaurant as our City is full of great places nearby.
How real is the project will be one of the main questions people may have and my response will be that we’ll work hard with the neighbours, the City and the Province to achieve a quality project with a “reasonable” return for our partners and APM... the plans are available at our office for anyone to review them and we're willing to listen to any practical suggestions or ideas concerning this project and implement them if they make sense... but please don't question our sincerity or ability to deliver jobs, investment and choice to our Community, as we're always willing to try... back in the late 1,800’s the Welsh-Owen Hotel was a landmark business on that block and we’re hoping to bring back that “grandeur” with a new form of life in what we hope to call “the Welsh-Owen Hotel and Plaza” and be proud doing it...

APM eyes new hotel for Charlottetown
JIM DAY The Guardian
30/01/10
APM has big plans for a downtown Charlottetown property that housed the Kays Brothers building for 45 years. Tim Banks, CEO of the construction and property development company, is working to secure a deal to proceed with a $22-million project called the Welsh-Owen Hotel and Plaza Development. Banks is looking to develop a 120-room hotel, a parking garage with about 63 spaces, 14 fully furnished apartment units and six condominium units.
The property, cornering Queen, Water and King streets, would also house a commercial tenant in a financial institution and likely continue to lease space to the Confederation Bridge. “Our design here has been done to be consistent with what we believe is the Charlottetown heritage look,’’ said Banks.“We’ve had a number of people review the plans, including (historian) Catherine Hennessey.
We know at some particular point we’ll be going to a public meeting with respect to the property.’’ Banks says the development will be contingent on the province proceeding with a proposed convention centre in the area. Current costing of the project must also come within APM’s original “thumbnail budget.’’ And a detail must be finalized with the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC), which purchased the Kays Building on Queen Street last year for $750,000 after the wholesale company shut down. “They’ve (CADC) given us the clear understanding that the property is available subject to them not losing money with respect to the agreement that we have with them,’’ said Banks. “And the reason we are actually talking (to media) about it today is if somebody has a better idea (for developing the property) they should go to CADC because we are making them a proposal and we believe that our proposal is substantive in nature.
The four-storey building was constructed by a former premier in 1872 and has been home to four Island newspapers, a tobacco manufacturer and even an egg company. Banks says if the project is given the green light, he will work to get a licensed agreement with a branded hotel group, hopefully Courtyard by Marriott. He sees a branded hotel, which rewards repeat customers, as a tool that is missing in the capital city’s arsenal for attracting tourists and business visitors. “I have been consistent and strong in saying that to strengthen tourism in Prince Edward Island, we have to give them a better product at a competitive price, and that is what we are trying to do here,’’ he said. “Why we are so strong in bringing this product to market is because there has been a void in our market here in terms of a branded hotel.’’ Banks says he wants construction to begin in early September with the hotel opening on July 15, 2011.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done Tim.

This should be welcomed to revitalize downtown.

Darcy Sock said...

Simple, yet stylish. Looks good Mr. Banks.

Mark Hickox said...

I saw the piece on Compass and the plan looks great. Hopefully everyone can get on the same page and move something forward that will improve that area and provide the needed margin to make investment and sustainability viable. Good luck.

Richard said...

Very nice! It's nice to see someone trying to expand PEI's potential.. Keep up the great work.

Reddirtmama said...

i hate to ask but what's with the name? is it the investors name or something personal?

i was kind of hoping for a boutique style hotel there, but i'll take marriott courtyard.

reddirtmama said...

ah.. just read to the end of your post (you need to hire an editor or something, one big paragraph is hard to read).

so the hotel was on that block in the 1800s?

Josh Biggley said...

Tim, I am impressed. Not only are you willing to preserve the ambiance of the downtown core with the street level facades, but committing to maintain (fixed up I am sure) the Kay's building facade is a particularly fitting touch.

A question about the mechanical systems for the building -- well, two questions. First, are you considering any sort of sustainability systems in the hotel? (Grey water recycling, low-flush toilets, etc.) Second, are the mechanics going to be on the roof or underground? Just wondering as I noticed how ugly the city looks when looking out of the 5th floor of the mall tower the other day. I am sure your 5th and 6th floor tenants are not going to want to see ugly rooftops and would prefer a 'green' option.

All in all I like what I see so far. An especially insightful choice (and I am sure economical as well) is opting out of a full service restaurant, instead relying on local establishments to meet the demand.

I'm sure it isn't perfect, but it is an in-fill, adaptive re-use property, and is being built in our downtown core. Kudos all around -- I'll continue to follow this development with keen interest.

asiseeit said...

Great job Tim on the exterior of the project. I like the mix of commercial, hotel and condos.
I want to bring up two things that require a lot of cooperation from the City and Governments and other businesses.
1) Parking...rather than squeezing 83 spaces in the basement, how about this idea.
Convince the City to block off King Str. to thru traffic between Queen and Pownal. Have the City build a parking garage between Dorchester and straddleing King Str. It would utilise a lot of now poorly used parking in the area. Including parking space by City Cinema.
Your development 'rents' 83 spaces.
You can make a nice courtyard and entrance to the property of a cul de sac on King.
2) "green" energy. You should be getting green energy from PEI Energy Systems. They are across the steet. Trouble is they need to bring a new distribution line up Queen Street. The City has not been a champion of "community energy". Shortly there is going to be an announcement of another City in the Maritimes that has received millions precicely for this kind of energy infrastructure.
The money is there. It needs a champion in the City.
Good luck Tim!

Doug MacDonald said...

Hey Tim,
Your proposal to build this great looking facility should be a welcomed project for the city and the residents.
Good luck with the project.
Doug

Anonymous said...

"Saw you on the news. Wonderful concept!"

Richard said...

"Looks great!"

William A said...

"Just what this corner needed. Way to go Tim!"

Gord Ives said...

Great project Tim. It's evident that you've done some significant due diligence/legwork on this one. Let's hope the City puts the new convention centre where it should be. Best of luck to you and your partners!

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Too bad the undeveloped land on the next block beside the Hyndman building couldn't be part of the project for parkade, condos and shop space along Queen street.

Kim said...

I would love for this to happen, my only comment it that it not be attached to a hotel chain. Boutique would bring more attention.

Anonymous said...

Great plans but what will Kim Devine think of them? She seems to want to stop everything in the Downtown but maybe the apartments may appeal to her. Good luck otherwise.

Joel Ives said...

Tim, Looks great and it does seem to fit the past, present and future for the city of Charlottetown. LC Owen was my great-great-grandfather, a prominent businessman in the city of Charlottetown,was considered a visionary at the time and was PEI's 2nd Premier. He wanted progress for Charlottetown so I think it fits in. Go For It !

Andrew said...

Looks good. Let's hope everything gets underway in September.

Anonymous said...

Ron B.said looks like a good plan I agree you should hook up to the distrit heat system it's a great system.

Anonymous said...

A class act, Tim. Again, the province benefits from your unique blend of creativity and risk management.

BigFrog said...

Nice addition to that vacant corner. It will fit in with the Delta and the streetscape nicely.
However, I believe the days of low rise buildings are coming to an end. I wouldn't be afraid to try for another three floors because it will still fit in nicely. If Homburg can do ten then your project could rise eight or nine.