Two hotel announcements made last week

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The long-awaited wait for a hotel to re-appear in Amherstburg appears to be over.

Not one, but two, announcements came last week with each announcement including proposals for new hotels in town.

The first announcement came Thursday morning, where a 60-room, $10 million hotel was announced for property adjacent to the Meadowview Estates subdivision at the corner of Simcoe St. and Meloche Road.

Nor-Built Construction is working with Choice Hotels to construct a Quality Inn & Suites at the site, with room for restaurants and retail spaces to be developed next to the hotel on the six-acre site. The hotel is expected to also have conference rooms, an indoor swimming pool and meeting space.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said it was “surreal” that he was able to make the announcement during this term of council and that it will help more people find out “what Amherstburg has to offer.” DiCarlo told the crowd of about 100 people at Thursday’s announcement that it was a collective effort of council and administration to create a positive atmosphere for commercial development.

“After years of work and collaboration with the town, (Nor-Built president) Norbert Bolger has decided to build a new hotel in Amherstburg,” he said.

Nor-Built president Norbert Bolger and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo unveil a proposed hotel development to be located at the corner of Simcoe St. and Meloche Road. This was the first of two hotel developments announced last week.

The mayor said it will be a “welcoming haven” for people coming to town and will allow executives, diplomats and families to stay locally.

“As they visit our town, they will learn about the vitality of our region,” stated DiCarlo.

As the land still needs to be rezoned and there is still work to be done at the municipal level, DiCarlo said he believed the new council will get behind the endeavor.

“My expectation is the new council will support this at every stage of the way,” he said.

DiCarlo said there was “a lot of relief” in being able to make the announcement last Thursday.

“A hotel was a big issue during the last election,” he said.

The Quality Inn & Suites hotel could be open within two years, if everything goes according to plan. However, DiCarlo said the timing will largely depend on the next council as there are zoning and planning issues to work through.

“This really is the next step, the next stage, in building Amherstburg,” he said last Thursday.

DiCarlo believed a hotel will “keep a lot of money in town” and that it was “everyone’s accomplishment.” According to the mayor, the timing of the announcement was to let the incoming council know about the zoning issues and that the community improvement plan still has to be wrapped up.

“I have been working on bringing a quality, family-friendly, all-purpose hotel to the Town of Amherstburg for years,” stated Bolger. “In close and effective partnership with Mayor DiCarlo and town administration, I feel the time has come to move

forward with this project in providing accommodations to our visitors, families, and the conference and tournament market.”

Bolger said they actually wanted to make the announcement several weeks ago, but it kept getting delayed.

“We actually planned on doing this quite a while ago,” he said.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stands with Amico vice president of develpment Cindy Prince after Amico unveiled plans for their Dalhousie St. properties as well as the south end of Boblo Island. When fully developed, the Amico projects are valued at $120 million.

While no restaurant or retails chains have been spoken to as of yet, Bolger indicated the value of the development could swell as high as $20 million when those additional amenities are completed. He added that neighbouring properties in the Meadowview Estates subdivision were told the lands along Simcoe St. were planned to have commercial uses.

A hotel study done several years ago showed that a hotel wasn’t feasible, but Bolger indicated times have changed and he expressed confidence the time was right for such a development. It will be located near the Libro Centre so the hotel is expected to capture sports teams using the recreational facility as well as others visiting Amherstburg.

The second announcement occurred Friday morning on a site owned by Amico. The $120 million project will see a four-storey hotel planned for the corner of Dalhousie St. and Gore St., two five-story waterfront condominium apartment developments on Dalhousie St. next to the former Duffy’s lands plus the proposed 200 residential lots on the south end of Boblo Island. The latter was subject of a three-day Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) in the summer and a decision is still pending.

DiCarlo called it “Day 2 of big announcements” in Amherstburg, stating he believes everyone is committed to the growth and prosperity of Amherstburg. The boutique-style hotel announced Friday does not yet have an operator officially attached to it, but will have 60-100 rooms.

“We celebrate today a trio of beautiful developments,” DiCarlo told a crowd of about 60 people, adding it was due to the “bold decision” council made to acquire the Duffy’s site.

Cindy Prince, vice president of development with Amico, said Amico is “very proud to be part of the Town of Amherstburg” and that they have been in town for about 20 years. She said they have been working “hand in glove” with the town and are pleased with proposals for the neighbouring Duffy’s site.

“We’re very supportive of the strategic development taken by the town for the project,” said Prince.

Prince told the media that the timing of the announcement “doesn’t have anything to do with the municipal election” and that applications are already with the town for the hotel. The aim is to have the hotel under construction by late spring 2019 and the condominium project in about one year from now. The proposed development will expand Amherstburg’s tax base and officials touted it will create construction jobs and permanent jobs in the town’s downtown core.

“Amico is prepared to invest in excess of $120 million in Amherstburg (and) $105 million of this investment will be right in

the heart of the Amherstburg’s downtown. We are committed to Amherstburg’s revitalization under Mayor Aldo DiCarlo’s leadership and we will continue to invest in Amherstburg with the progressive thinking of the town.”

Prince added that “Amico very much likes what it sees in terms of the strategic direction that is being taken by the town” and that “it has spurred us along so that we are excited and eager to bring our development proposals forward at this time to ensure that this section of the riverfront becomes the municipal focal point that the council is planning for.”

Amico will also work with the town’s heritage committee to ensure the design is consistent with the look and feel the town wants in its downtown core.

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