June 28,2012 Tri City News


By Sarah Payne - The Tri-City News
Published: June 28, 2012 3:00 PM
Updated: June 28, 2012 3:25 PM

The Suter Brook hole is unlikely to become a hotel.

Onni Development Corp. is applying for zoning changes to its last remaining parcel of land to build a nine-storey commercial and office building at 220 Brew St. Port Moody’s land use committee will consider the application at its next meeting on July 3.

Mayor Mike Clay said he’s happy to see something happening at the site, which has been a vacant pit for the last four years.

“The residents of Suter Brook and other residents would like to see something fill that hole,” Clay said. “If this is something they want to take to the public for their opinion, that’s a good thing.”

Clay said Onni has abandoned plans for a hotel because of market conditions but with the site’s office and commercial space fully leased, there’s demand for more.

“There are some people looking for space in Port Moody and any chance we have to capture employment opportunities... makes it worth it for us,” he said, noting there is little appetite for any more residential highrise towers in the area.

In 2008, Onni proposed building a 138-room hotel but, in exchange, the developers wanted to increase the plot’s residential component from 1,250 to 1,705 units. They would do that by turning two low-rise towers into a third highrise and raising the number of floors from 26 to 32 storeys. To sweeten the deal, Onni offered $2 million for PoMo’s affordable housing fund and extra cash for the public works yard relocation and recreation centre renovation.

But the application came at a time when Inlet Centre residents feared owners of the Heritage Mountain Shopping Village were planning to convert their property to highrise towers and shortly after Bosa had revealed plans for developing the nearby Irly Bird site.

With the Evergreen Line then an unlikely dream, residents were wary of adding any new density.

The 2008 council voted against the application, with only former mayor Joe Trasolini supporting it.

Clay suspects Onni is coming forward with the application now because it has secured an anchor tenant for the new building.

But at least one person is lamenting the loss of the hotel that never got off the ground.

Robert Simons, who ran against Clay for the mayor’s chair in the 2011 election, wrote in a letter to The Tri-City News that PoMo offers an unbeatable location and, with construction started on the Evergreen Line, the time is right for a hotel.

“Tourism is a key element of the local economy and one that requires quality hospitality services as it grows,” Simons wrote. “I, for one, see the hotel as a viable opportunity for the city. I also see the likelihood that Port Moody may lose a valuable economic and employment opportunity to our neighbouring communities.”