The chief executive officer of 3Bridges Properties’ says it plans to tap into its “unique background” to draw Asian visitors to a new, three-tower development in Niagara Falls which will include a luxury hotel and amenities along with condominium residences.
The Great Falls project at 6880 Stanley Ave. will be the second Canadian development for 3Bridges, which was established in B.C. in 2014. It is in the planning stages for the historic Loretto Academy site in Niagara Falls, Ont., which used to be home to an order of Roman Catholic nuns and a private school.
“We’re still in the process of comprehensive overall planning,” said Zhang, speaking through office manager and interpreter Lydia Liu, during an interview with RENX.
Great Falls will sit on 7.4 acres of prime waterfront land. Initial plans call for a 32-storey south tower, 57-storey central tower and 42-storey north tower that will include a luxury hotel and amenities along with condominium residences. Early estimates are that the development will be worth about a billion dollars.
Historic site, natural wonder
The centre of the three buildings will retain the existing Loretto Academy building’s mansard roof and cupola, which will be conserved and restored. Vancouver-based 3Bridges is seeking submissions from architects around the world to carry out the design of the complex, which Zhang said will present some unique challenges due to the history of the property, and its location near one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls.
“One is a challenge to ideally preserve the 100-year history of this building,” he said. “Second is the amazing beauty of this natural wonder and how it can be harmonized with this urban structure around it.”
Great Falls will sit in a park-like setting designed to maximize views of Niagara Falls. The Scotiabank Convention Centre is located across the street.
The municipal government still has to approve the final design, according to Zhang, and no timelines have been established for construction. Zhang said 3Bridges will source a Greater Toronto Area contractor to partner on building Great Falls, as well as a company to operate the hotel component.
“We’re hoping to attract more hotel brand operators to come and talk with us, although we have already been in conversation with several.”
Great Falls could increase Asian tourism
Zhang said there’s “huge tourism potential that hasn’t been tapped into” in Niagara Falls from Asian visitors. He believes Great Falls can change that.
“Our unique background puts us in an advantageous position because of the network we have with Asian countries and tourism agencies. The challenge we see is that tourists come to the area for a few hours on a day trip and then they leave. What we believe is an achievable goal is that we would attract and retain people for a day or two.”
Romzap Ltd. acquired the Loretto Academy property — which was comprised of a convent, boarding school and spiritual retreat for 144 years — in 2006. It’s since been subject to zoning applications and community consulting to get to this point.
Zhang’s company announced last August it would buy the Great Falls property from Romzap. The deal closed in February.
3Bridges and Gold House
The 3Bridges team has many years of experience completing large development projects worldwide, partnering with established local firms and overseas investors to maximize the end results. The Canadian arm was founded in 2014.
The first Canadian development is Gold House at Metrotown in Burnaby, B.C., where 3Bridges partnered with Rize Alliance to create 42- and 26-storey condo towers with 490 suites. The Gold House architectural and design team includes Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc., Hirsch Bedner Associates and PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc.
Gold House’s amenities include: two fitness centres; yoga studio; two study/music practice rooms; a social room with kitchen, dining and lounge areas; a social room with a lounge and bar; a social room with two kitchens, a bar and a lounge; and more than 4,000 square feet of furnished outdoor terrace space.
“The project has been moving forward very smoothly and on schedule,” said Zhang, who anticipates occupancy to take place by the end of this year.
Zhang said 3Bridges has other Canadian development plans in its pipeline, but he’s not ready yet to publicly disclose any of the details.