City Council approves new 147-room hotel on Broadway next to future SkyTrain

Jul 14 2022, 5:14 am

A new 12-storey hotel building will be coming to the northwest corner of the intersection of West Broadway and Laurel Street.

In a 9-0 vote on Tuesday evening, Vancouver City Council approved the rezoning application for 901 West Broadway. TEAM councillor Colleen Hardwick and COPE councillor Jean Swanson were absent from the decision.

The new hotel by Hallmark Hospitality Group (HHG) will replace the 1929-built, two-storey building currently occupied by New India Buffet, Bar, and Restaurant, which was previously an Earls restaurant.

HHG has not indicated the hotel brand this property will fall under, but the company is known for operating low-to-mid tier properties under the banners of Four Points by Sheraton, Best Western Premier, Ramada Inn & Suites, and Best Western Plus. The property is currently called “Hallmark Hotel.”

901 West Broadway Vancouver hotel

Site of Hallmark Hotel at 901 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Zeidler Architecture/Hallmark Hospitality)

901 west broadway vancouver hallmark hotel

Location of Hallmark Hotel at 901 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Zeidler Architecture/Hallmark Hospitality Group)

901 west broadway vancouver hallmark hotel

Artistic rendering of Hallmark Hotel at 901 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Zeidler Architecture/Hallmark Hospitality Group)

A total floor area of 93,000 sq ft will accommodate 147 hotel rooms and a ground-level restaurant. The building’s basket weave-like design — using a combination of wood veneer, metal panels, brick, and concrete — is by Zeidler Architecture.

This location is particularly strategic for a hotel for reasons that include its very close proximity to Vancouver General Hospital and medical research facilities, its adjacency to the future SkyTrain Oak-VGH Station entrance at the southwest corner of the intersection, and the City’s Broadway Plan and Economic Lands strategies of encouraging new hotels in the area.

While this is a highly central and accessible location, the site’s potential height is severely limited by the hospital’s helipad flightpath, with the building height restrictions regulated by the federal government.

901 west broadway vancouver hallmark hotel

Artistic rendering of Hallmark Hotel at 901 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Zeidler Architecture/Hallmark Hospitality Group)

901 west broadway vancouver hallmark hotel

Artistic rendering of Hallmark Hotel at 901 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Zeidler Architecture/Hallmark Hospitality Group)

Nevertheless, any additional hotel room capacity is seen as a welcome addition, given the immense attrition of hotel rooms before and during the pandemic.

During the meeting, Gwendal Castellan, the manager of sustainable destination development at Destination Vancouver, brought to attention the deficit of hotel rooms to attract leisure visitors, and serve as places for business meetings, temporary and emergency accommodations, and accommodations for visitors to major hospitals. Moreover, the shortage of hotel rooms will increasingly hurt Vancouver’s ability to land and support major events, trade shows, and conventions.

As of 2018, there were 1,105 fewer hotel rooms in Vancouver compared to a decade earlier, just before the 2010 Olympics. This was largely due to hotels being converted or redeveloped into residential uses.

And then over the last two years, in response to the pandemic’s homelessness crisis, the city saw nine more hotel closures totalling 620 rooms — mostly in the one-, two-, and three-star accommodations categories.

As of this spring, Castallan says, visitation to Vancouver is clearly rebounding, and hotel occupancy levels are now near pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

“We’re anticipating that we will find that the further losses in inventory during the pandemic have only exacerbated the crunch that we had previously identified in 2019,” he said.

Based on a recent analysis, Destination Vancouver anticipates there could be up to 3.4 million additional visitors to the city on an annual basis by 2030, which would necessitate the construction of enough new hotels to expand the city’s accommodation capacity by up to 5,000 rooms.

The opportunity cost of not doing so is about $2.6 billion annually in lost economic benefits, $387 million in direct tax revenues, and tens of thousands of jobs.

“It is important for hotel capacity to grow in lockstep with the city and other industries,” added Castallan.

hotel rooms

Artistic rendering of the Landmark On Robson condominium towers replacing the now-demolished Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. (Image: Left – PDP London/Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/Asia Standard International Group; Right – Clive Hicks /Flickr)

118-150 Robson Street Vancouver

2019 artistic rendering of the approved condominium and hotel tower at 118-150 Robson Street, Vancouver, next to BC Place Stadium. (Amacon Development)

With the high cost of land in Vancouver, new hotel projects are increasingly financially challenging to achieve. To make the economics work, some new hotels have been integrated with mixed-use developments, such as within the lower floors or attached to a condominium building. New hotels have been primarily four- and five-star properties due to the high construction and land costs.

Beyond simply adding more inventory, Castallan also highlighted the need to have a diverse hotel room supply that meets the wide range of needs of visitors, as opposed to the emerging “monoculture of having only one class of hotel.”

He notes that without intervention on catalyzing more new hotels, the limited hotel supply and variety of hotels could potentially put more pressure on demand for short-term rentals like Airbnb.

“Just like housing is for a lot of people, a lot of new room rates are getting up to $400 and $500 per night, and it’s very difficult for people to afford,” said ABC councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung during the meeting.” It makes a lot of sense to see hotel inventory on the Broadway corridor given the development that is happening there.”

“I can’t emphasize enough how we need to actually accelerate and enable more hotel projects… Vancouver will increasingly lose a lot of opportunities as tourism is coming back, and we are an attractive place to visit. People do want to come here, but they need a place to stay.”

In January 2020, city council approved a major 438-room hotel kitty corner from the Hallmark property — replacing the existing Park Inn & Suites by Radisson and the Fairview Pub and liquor store. There will be a net gain of rooms compared to what exists today, including 258 traditional short-term stay rooms and 180 long-term stay rooms with kitchenettes.

A sizeable hotel was also approved in March 2021 for a site located on Cambie Street, just across from SkyTrain Oakridge-41st Avenue Station. A 15-storey hotel building with 270 rooms will be attached to a 29-storey condominium tower. Early this year, a partnership between Peterson Group and Coromandel Properties acquired this Oakridge hotel and condominium complex project from Wall Financial Corporation.

878-898 West Broadway Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the approved redevelopment of Park Inn & Suites by Radisson at 878-898 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture)

5910-5962 Cambie Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 5910-5962 Cambie Street, Vancouver. (Perkins & Will Architects)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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