One Amherstburg hotel project dead, another moves ahead
Amherstburg is batting .500 when it comes to the status of two hotel projects first proposed in 2018.
While the budget hotel proposal near the Libro Centre is dead, a boutique hotel on Dalhousie Street is moving forward with hopes of a long-awaited construction start this fall.
Amherstburg's Nor-built Construction is no longer interested in building a $10-million Quality Inn at the corner of Simcoe Street and Meloche Road.
“We're going to look at something else there,” said owner Norbert Bolger of the six-acre site. “It's the way the world has changed and our thinking has changed.”
Bolger said his company invested “tens of thousands of dollars” in a project that struggled to get off the ground even before the COVID -19 pandemic first disrupted the construction industry.
Meanwhile, town council could have eyes on a site plan for the waterfront boutique hotel being developed by Amico Properties in the near future.
“We met with them last week and got some good news,” Amherstburg Mayor Aldo Dicarlo said. “It's on track and all is going well. It still will be built.”
Cindy Prince, Amico's vice-president of development, said the company hopes to have a shovel in the ground by September.
“We have a formal application to a particular brand,” Prince said, adding the hotel brand name must remain confidential until approvals are finalized. “Our site plan, just as of last week, has been approved by the brand.”
Prince said the site plan should go to town administration “within the next week” and then move on to council for approval.
Prince anticipates a two-year construction timeline.
“By the time it's finished that should be when people want to get out and want to travel and see what Amherstburg has to offer,” Prince said.
Amico's hotel was part of a $120-million development that included condominiums across the street and a residential element on Boblo Island.
The original hotel proposal called for 91 rooms in a four-storey, heritage-style design.
Prince said the new layout offers 76 rooms featuring a mix of standard-size rooms and suites, and they've “increased some barrier-free opportunities” for those with physical limitations.
She said Amico will present those plans to the town's heritage committee as well, because it's located in a historic core district.
Dicarlo announced both projects just days before the municipal election in 2018.
Prince said at the time she hoped construction would start in the summer of 2019.
When the project got pushed into 2020, pandemic-related shutdowns played havoc with the construction industry and crushed travel and tourism.
We still never had the chance to get the rezoning finished. I'd hate to have half a hotel up right now.
“It certainly backed the project up, no question,” Prince said.
Bolger waited almost a year for several environmental reports on the impact of noise and dust from a nearby quarry before applying for rezoning from the town.
“We still never had the chance to get the rezoning finished,” he said. “I'd hate to have half a hotel up right now.”
Bolger has an ongoing residential development nearby.
“I think with the housing shortage and pandemic issues and restrictions, especially on hotels, that they're currently exploring other opportunities,” the mayor said.
Dicarlo hasn't given up on a second hotel that could tap into visitors drawn to the nearby arena and recreation complex for tournaments and events.
“We actively continued to look for opportunities around the Libro Centre in case that one did not proceed as we'd hoped,” he said. “Hopefully, something will come up again.”