The Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) is hoping an extended-stay hotel proposed for the southwest corner of Beacon Avenue West and Stirling Way near the Pat Bay Highway encounters less turbulence than the Sidney Gateway/Sidney Crossing projects.
Still recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, VAA on Thursday (July 28) announced it is evaluating a plan by the Kothari Group to build and operate a three-storey, 129-room TownePlace Suites by Marriott, plus a branded restaurant, on a portion of the airport property previously earmarked for the retail projects.
As with the Amazon project in mid-construction a short walk away, the land is federally owned but falls within Town of Sidney boundaries. As such, the VAA has final approval authority on the proposal, but under a memorandum of understanding with the town, will submit the proposal to Sidney for review and comments after doing its own review.
“We see the addition of a hotel at this location as a logical fit and a great new amenity for the airport and community,” VAA president/CEO Geoff Dickson said in a release. “It is an opportunity for Victoria International Airport to further diversify its revenue base which has been dramatically impacted by the pandemic.”
Looking to alert the public and encourage input, the VAA placed storyboards outlining the proposal in the terminal building on Thursday.
The proposal would see VAA enter into a long-term lease with Kothari, which Sidney residents know as the proponent behind a five-storey residential building across Beacon Avenue from the proposed hotel site. That project was put on hold earlier this year as the Town of Sidney worked through its draft official community plan. But council approved the updated OCP – it proposes developments up to six storeys for West Sidney – in late June following a public hearing, potentially paving the way for the Kothari project.
The failure of the Sidney Gateway project, and later Sidney Crossing, to become a reality prompted VAA to rethink its goals for the property, Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations, told Black Press Media.
“It went away and we paused for a while to have an understanding of what should be built there, in terms of being value added to the community,” he said. A hotel has been suggested as a good use of the site for some time, he added.
With no increase in hotel rooms on the Peninsula for several years, Hunchak said, the proposal stands to benefit local businesses and the tourism sector, as well as give the airport a consistent revenue source.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith called the announcement a positive sign that Sidney continues to be a desirable place to invest, and work by the town, VAA and North Saanich to realign Stirling Way and build a roundabout supports ongoing growth in the area. “I look forward to seeing this come to council in the coming months,” he said.
Hunchak said the VAA expects to review the proposal this summer and hopes to see Sidney staff and council make their comments before the October election. If so, he said, construction could start in early 2023, with completion projected for late 2024.
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