This site at 8050 Lickman Rd. is the location of a proposed hotel.

Hotel anchors Lickman development

A seven-building commercial development on Lickman Road that includes an 80-room Hampton Inn Hotel, part of the Hilton chain, got the final nod from Chilliwack city council Tuesday.

A seven-building commercial development on Lickman Road that includes an 80-room Hampton Inn Hotel, part of the Hilton chain, got the final nod from Chilliwack city council Tuesday.

“We hope to be in the ground November, and the estimated completion is 2013,” Patricia Lundquist, communications manager at the Odessa Group, said Wednesday.

The four-storey hotel, called Station 8050, is the first built in Chilliwack in 20 years, and is one of several Odessa is eyeing in the Fraser Valley.

“Our focus was to develop hotels in emerging communities,” Lundquist said. “We’re not big enough to compete with established hotels in Vancouver, so we partnered with Hilton world-wide, and first off is Chilliwack.”

“We think this is a great fit,” she added.

Odessa is aiming at an upscale market that includes leisure, corporate and government travelers, and includes meeting rooms, fitness centre, indoor pool, hot tub and water slide.

“Hockey is big in the Valley,” Lundquist said, so the hotel hopes to attract the hockey teams that come to play at Prospera Centre, as well as visitors to events at nearby Heritage Park.

The 24-acre Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers site, which attracts bidders from around the world, is also nearby on Industrial Way.

The six commercial buildings in the Odessa development are designed to accommodate 12-18 tenants, which will likely include restaurants and a “sit-down” coffee shop.

“We have a couple very close to agreements,” Lundquist said.

The Best Western’s 74-room Rainbow Country Inn, a popular site for business meetings and conventions, is also located nearby. It also offers a restaurant, lounge and indoor pool.

A Tim Horton’s and a Subway shop are also located in the area, which has a large traffic volume due to the Lickman Road access to Highway 1.

Brian Coombes, executive director at Tourism Chilliwack, said anytime a “quality” hotel like Hampton moves into the community, “that’s a positive.”

But the full benefits won’t be felt unless the economy grows and demand for accommodations grows along with it.

Otherwise, the new hotel will be competing with existing facilities for the same customers, he said.

“I do think one of the areas of opportunity for this property, which is also tied to the economy, is the industrial lands north of the railway tracks,” he said. “Once you see more business in those locations … a Hampton Inn will be able to capitalize on that.”

The 74-acre Progress Way industrial park is currently home to the Kal Tire warehouse/distribution centre, IMW Industries and several others.

Northern Vision Realty Advisors, which is working with Odessa, said Chilliwack’s recreational facilities, shopping centres, arts, culture, new jobs and a continuously growing school district are what’s attracting new businesses and residents to the area.

City staff recommended council approve the development permit for the Odessa project.

The east half of the linear, three-hectare site had already been rezoned to Tourist Commercial in 2004 to allow an earlier proposal for a four-storey hotel, and a development permit was issued in 2008.

But city staff said the Odessa Group’s proposal is “significantly different” from the 2008 proposal, so a new development permit was required.

City council also approved a development variance permit earlier this month to allow a larger free-standing sign, and the city’s design review panel approved the “form and character” of the hotel and commercial buildings.

Lundquist said the “country/urban” flavour of the design fits in well with Chilliwack.

“It’s going to be a very beautiful complex,” she said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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