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Large development launched for former hotel site in downtown Nanaimo

Perched beside the Millstone River, this is a 7.2-acre property at the north end of downtown Nanaimo that once housed a Howard Johnson Hotel, which closed in 2018.

It is the largest cluster of private properties in the heart of the city and its owner, Oakwood Park Estates, has big plans for it – nearly 700 residences, a 120-room hotel, 6,000 square feet of retail space and retail, and a small park as well.

But the land must be rezoned for development to continue.

The plans have yet to be submitted to city council, but the acting mayor of Nanaimo likes what he saw in the development application Towards the city.

“This is a great development for downtown Nanaimo. The city center only becomes vibrant when there are a lot of people living here and that’s one more step towards that goal, ”said Jim Turley.

This is already seen for many as there were plans for this property six years ago. A $ 70 million development that would have seen a hockey rink for a WHL team and a hotel, but those plans were withdrawn.

Turley says another hotel is still needed.

“With the conference center to be able to accommodate some of the larger conventions and conferences, we need more hotel rooms. We are fortunate that the courtyard of the Marriot is currently under construction.

One of the current tenants is a church. His pastor says he is supporting the construction even if it means they are looking for a new home.

“I think the plans are fine. Nanaimo is a beautiful city and it needs a little bit of a facelift so what they plan to do here is amazing and I totally agree, ”said Wayne Nelson.

The church of over 80 members is always looking for a new space to rent. They have until September 30 to leave.

A neighbor says she welcomes the development even though she has a caveat.

“My big concern is whether they will have adequate parking or not. We only have one side street there, Mill Street, and there isn’t a lot of parking as it is, ”said Sherry Smart.

Smart says a recent new apartment was not built with enough parking space, making street parking difficult to find.

City staff say they will now review the request and it could be up to a year before the rezoning hearing.

A 16-story hotel would be the centerpiece of the development proposed by Oakwood Park Estates along the Millstone River. If completed, the project would also include several mid-rise buildings, townhouses and commercial spaces. (Photo credit: D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism)

The proposed development still needs to undergo a rezoning before construction can begin. (Photo credit: D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism)

The Howard Johnson Hotel, which closed in 2018, currently remains on the property. Development plans show that several buildings would adorn the downtown property if the project goes ahead. (Photo credit: D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism)

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