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[Downtown Victoria] New England Hotel | Microloft rentals, commercial | Renovated in 2014

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#1 gumgum

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 07:36 PM

Story.

[...]The enticing smell of baking waffle cones will soon be a sweet memory after Shukry and Connie Regep's downtown ice cream business in the old New England Hotel building closes next month.

Developer Chris Le Fevre has bought the ornate 1892 building from the Regeps, who are retiring, and will convert it into condominium units.
[...]


Le Fevre is my hero.

I read somewhere that he actually doesn't make any money on these restoration projects. I see no reason not to believe this. These projects are very complex and risky.

He's creating a wonderful legacy.*



*But I still hate Waddington's rooftop!!!

 



#2 D.L.

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 08:23 PM

This is great! The old New England Hotel is one of my favourite buildings, but it has been vacant for so long. I hope name of the building is kept and the wording on the facade as well.

Here's a photo of the building

#3 aastra

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 08:50 PM

Surely they won't be eliminating the commercial space on the ground floor?

Love this comment:

This is what kills all down-towns. Little shops and businesses where people interact, greet and know each other close, to be replaced by condos where people go home in the evening, bring up the drawbridge and lock out the world till the next morning. I watched the same process happen in Winnipeg, over a number of years, when I lived there.




#4 Mike K.

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 09:27 PM

The Regep's have wanted to rehabilitate their property for many years but cited fiscal constraints through remediation to be insurmountable obstacles.

It's great to hear that LeFevre will be making a go of this restoration and, as gumgum mentioned, potentially making no initial return with the project.

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#5 Baro

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 09:45 PM

wow what timing, I was JUST walking past this building today with my wife and went on and on about how great it would be if someone fixed it up.
"beats greezy have baked donut-dough"

#6 Sparky

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:05 PM

^ 45 years ago I used to visit a friend of mine, Frenchy, who lived in the "England". Yes, he was our "go to" guy that used to buy us a case of beer for $2.52, and yes his commission was a bottle of cheap wine. (read we were underage)

We would however, spend quality time with him, sitting in his small room listening to his tales of yesteryear, filled with stories that our parents would keep from us. He enjoyed our visits and so did we.

The night clerk would give us that knowing smile, and wish us well on our departure, knowing that we would return the following week and spend time with this fine man.

Currently, I am involved with a restoration project at the "York Hotel" on Johnson street that is not unlike the "England" of old.

The difference being that the York Hotel still houses those daily or weekly tenants and provides a roof for those special human beings that perhaps are not as fortunate as you or I to own their own abode, late in life.

It might behoove us to stop and think for a moment and consider where these people will live when the lustre of a fruitful life is no longer within their grasp.

Yes the New England Hotel is about to spawn a new beginning, but we should also be mindful of the past, as well as the people that rely on these types of facilities for housing.

#7 spanky123

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 05:49 AM

Story.


Le Fevre is my hero.

I read somewhere that he actually doesn't make any money on these restoration projects. I see no reason not to believe this. These projects are very complex and risky.

He's creating a wonderful legacy.*



*But I still hate Waddington's rooftop!!!


I don't believe that he works for free. $700 a sq/ft goes a long ways. Having said that, profit isn't a 4 letter word. He takes on projects that few others want to do so good for him.

We have had another dismal tourist season and downtown business is suffering, yet we are closing tourist attractions and condofying many of the unique shops and alleys for wealthy retirees to visit a few months out of the year.

CFAX used the term the Whistlerfication of Victoria.

#8 gumgum

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:45 AM

^Oh come on. The building has been sitting empty above the retail for over 30 years. You're telling me that this is bad news?
This is NOT an example of Whistlerfying Victoria. Adding to more supply is doing the opposite!
Tell me again what is bad about this project? More residences living in downtown, more supply in the market. The restoration of a beautiful building over 120 years old. Not to mention the units will be relatively affordable.

we are closing tourist attractions and condofying many of the unique shops and alleys for wealthy retirees to visit a few months out of the year.

Is this a well thought out argument? I respect your input, but this is a knee-jerk opinion.

#9 Rob Randall

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:48 AM

We can't control who buys. Sure, we would like full-time residents but all residents add value.

What are you proposing as an alternative? I don't really like the idea of office here because there are existing and proposed office projects that need tenants.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#10 Kapten Kapsell

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:47 AM

Monday Magazine published an op-ed piece a few years ago by a writer who claimed that condo projects in the Humboldt Valley primarily serve part-year residents; his "scientific" way of measuring this was to stand outside of the Belvedere and count how many lights were switched on during an evening. It goes without saying that he obviously missed those who were away on trips, out for the evening, or simply conserving energy by keeping the lights off in unoccupied rooms...

I have no doubt that the New England Hotel will have full-time residents, though there is no way of knowing what the final buyer mix will be.

I'm optimistic that some ground-level retail will be retained (with the balance of the first floor being utilized by bicycle storage and a lobby).

#11 Mike K.

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:23 AM

We have had another dismal tourist season and downtown business is suffering, yet we are closing tourist attractions and condofying many of the unique shops and alleys for wealthy retirees to visit a few months out of the year.

The Sweet Memories ice cream shop that the Regep's operate is closed throughout the fall, winter and into early spring. It's only open throughout the peak tourist season.

I'm not sure about the specifics, but I believe that the upper floors have sat unused for many, many years.

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#12 smably

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:35 AM

I'm not sure about the specifics, but I believe that the upper floors have sat unused for many, many years.

Yep, apparently. Would anyone prefer it be left in this state?


*returns to lurking*

#13 aastra

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 11:05 AM

...his "scientific" way of measuring this was to stand outside of the Belvedere and count how many lights were switched on during an evening.


You're thinking of Sid Tafler's article. We had some fun with that one. Many unrelated issues were lumped together. But I think the basic premise of his article was valid. Just how many units are unoccupied at any given moment? What are the benefits of a half-occupied condo building as compared to the benefits of the surface parking lot that previously occupied the same site? (In other words, how do we quantify whether or not the process is good for Victoria?)

In the case of a small heritage building that's been unoccupied for decades... I think we don't need to worry so much. Something is always better than nothing, right?

The city SHOULD strongly encourage the developer to restore the ground floor to something more closely resembling the original design:



#14 Kapten Kapsell

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 11:54 AM

We can't control who buys. Sure, we would like full-time residents but all residents add value.

What are you proposing as an alternative? I don't really like the idea of office here because there are existing and proposed office projects that need tenants.


I imagine that returning the property to its original use (a hotel) would not be economically viable? There are a number of smaller "micro boutique" hotels in Manhattan with very small rooms and shared washrooms, but could this market support such a property, especially given the rates that would need to be charged to cover the debt payments that would be necessary for buildout, seismic upgrades, and elevator installation?

Btw Aastra, I'm a Humboldt Valley resident, so I'm admittedly biased, but I definitely think that the Aria, Astoria, Belvedere, and Marriot Hotel provide many more benefits to the city than the surface lots they replaced did. And most of the occupants of my building are year-round residents though, to concede a point to Spanky, some of the year-round residents are retirees (who enjoy the pedestrian-friendly environment and the security of aging in a place where access to a car and driver's licence are not a requirement).

#15 aastra

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 12:48 PM

I definitely think that the Aria, Astoria, Belvedere, and Marriot Hotel provide many more benefits to the city than the surface lots they replaced did.


I agree with you 100%. I'm just saying it's okay for people to ponder the matter. They should be pondering the matter. What's the impact of vacation rentals on the hotel business, for example.

Mr. Tafler's article could have been good if it had contained more in the way of thoughtful investigation and inquiry and less in the way of unsubstantiated griping.

#16 yodsaker

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 03:51 PM

I agree with you 100%. I'm just saying it's okay for people to ponder the matter. They should be pondering the matter. What's the impact of vacation rentals on the hotel business, for example.

Mr. Tafler's article could have been good if it had contained more in the way of thoughtful investigation and inquiry and less in the way of unsubstantiated griping.


Why I stopped bothering with Monday mag.

#17 G-Man

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:43 PM

I can't imagine a single reason that someone could oppose this. A building that has been vacant for years will be rehabbed to survive another 100 years. I don't care if the people that buy the units live in Hong Kong and never enter their suite. This saves a valuable downtown building.

#18 Rob Randall

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:18 PM

There is a public meeting regarding this rezoning tonight at 7 pm at Silver Threads, 1728 Douglas (across from the Hudson).

Please attend and see the architect's design for the roof extension.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#19 Kapten Kapsell

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:33 PM

The rezoning required by this proposed redevelopment will be discussed at Thursday's Planning & Land Use Committee meeting (staff are recommending that the proposal go to a public hearing).

#20 Mike K.

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:44 PM

Great! Thanks for the heads up on this, KK!

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