A potential new hotel and shopping centre is in Kitimat’s future with the announcement of The Crossroads.
Stuart Ramsay representing the Bryton Group presented his company’s vision to develop a “world class” hotel on the vacant, undeveloped lands along Highway 37S, between the Chamber of Commerce and Kitamaat Village Road.
The company will also develop a commercial complex for eventual shopping opportunities.
It’s the expected boom in Kitimat that brought the company here. Ramsay said the proposed LNG projects on the way will be significant population drivers.
“There’s no question that Kitimat is on the cusp of an economic boom,” he said.
That boom is part of what made Kitimat their destination for this project. Ramsay said that no other town in our region is currently being considered for other developments like this from them.
“There’s over a kilometre of frontage there so when you’re looking for fantastic exposure for a commercial development it’s tough to get a strip that long,” he said.
He said Prince Rupert is another town in a similar situation as us, but Kitimat has the advantage for them when it came to available land.
“To find 50 acres in city limits with that length of frontage of commercial development, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity what’s going to happen in Kitimat,” he said.
Ramsay explains that the hotel is the primary thrust of their proposal, and the rest will centre around the facility, which when fully complete will have 300 rooms, 150 regular guest rooms and 150 additional, extended stay units.
“We know that if the hotel was open tomorrow it would be absolutely full,” said Ramsay.
He expects a phased approach, with the 150 rooms coming first, before the 150 extended stay rooms.
He he could have his way, work would begin on the project this year, to be completed in 2014, but there are infrastructure concerns that need to be dealt with.
He said there has been little to no upgrades to the town’s infrastructures for 20 years so they’ll be doing studies on how to deal with lift stations, water pressure boosters and sewer issues.
That said, the company has been working closely with the town to solve these issues, and are looking at solutions.
Although no firm agreements have been made, Ramsay said the hotel will likely be a Coast Hotels branded property once built. In his presentation to council, the slides showing concept drawings of the hotel were labelled Coast Hotel Kitimat, and he said the company has worked with Coast Hotels in the past.
He said when it comes to the commercial developments in the same complex, they’ll be looking at picking stores which will complement the hotel business.
Franchise and chain stores are likely to be attracted to the property, and Ramsay said they’ve already had calls from companies interested in moving in to Kitimat with them.
While Tim Hortons of course already exists in the City Centre, Ramsay says their presence is actually quite positive in terms of seeing more recognizable businesses on the horizon.
“Tim Hortons tends to be one of the pioneers and leaders of the industry. They’re phenomenal at taking advantage and recognizing opportunities,” he said.
As for any possible worry about competition with Kitimat’s existing City Centre downtown core, Ramsay isn’t worried that one will benefit over the other.
“I definitely think so,” when asked if there’s room enough for their shopping complex and Kitimat’s downtown, noting the expectation of a huge population growth in Kitimat that could support their project and downtown.
“It’s everybody’s hope and expectation that people bring families, that it’s not just workers coming and leaving every 10 days,” he said, also adding it’s not their intention to just set up and simply take from the town, but rather want to help contribute to infrastructure and stability.
As far as economic activity, he said they plan for 125 employees in the hotel itself, with another 100 jobs possible in the commercial developments, meaning there is the potential for over 220 jobs for people in the community, he said.