Chard Development expects to soon start work on the first new hotel in downtown Victoria since the Parkside Hotel and Spa opened in 2009.
By the time Chard’s 139-room Hyatt Centric-branded hotel opens to guests on Broad Street in 2026, it will have been more than 17 years since new hotel rooms were added to the downtown market — and more are needed, according to the local tourism office.
Chard’s hotel will be built at the site of two heritage buildings owned by the University of Victoria: the 127-year-old Duck's Building and the Duck's Carriage Factory. The developer confirmed the hotel proposal preserves the front and rear walls and parts of the side walls of the Duck’s building, and an original rock wall of the 1874 Carriage Factory.
The new hotel project comes as local tourism authorities estimate between 400-600 new rooms are required to keep pace with tourism and visitor demand.
Demolition to begin at hotel site
Chard is simultaneously working on a separate downtown proposal to add three residential towers with commercial space on Douglas Street, just north of the downtown core. Altogether, the projects represent key placemaking efforts the developer says deepens its already-strong roots in the Greater Victoria region that’s now home to roughly 420,000 people.
"We are starting our demolition (for the hotel) in about a month's time," said company president and CEO Byron Chard in an interview with RENX. "The work is underway to get ready for construction to be occurring in the immediate future, and we're still targeting an opening date in spring of 2026."
Chard said the site is owned by the university, and his company has signed a 99-year lease on the property. This will be the first hotel project for the Vancouver-based developer.
"There's a lot of hotel stock that has left the city (and) the tourism industry in Victoria continues to mature and evolve," Chard said, noting the firm sees a strong business case for adding new lodgings to the downtown core. "We're quite excited for this development. We think it is a really fantastic and needed addition."
Chard said the ground level of the hotel will include a restaurant and bar, a coffee shop and meeting space.
Tourism authorities say hundreds of new rooms needed
Destination Greater Victoria is now reviewing its overall need for new hotel rooms in the city, the organization told RENX.
"It's is safe to say that due to stronger year-round performance in the meetings and conference sector, combined with hotel closures in recent years, an interim estimate is that the downtown core could serve 400-600 rooms at a variety of star levels," said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria in an email.
The last purpose-built hotels in downtown Victoria include the Oswego Hotel, which opened in 2007, and The Parkside Hotel & Spa, which opened in 2009, according to the tourism office.
There are several drivers of hotel room demand, Nursey said.
"We have strong meetings and conference performance, a strong global brand and consistent growth in average daily rate and revenue per available room metrics," he said, noting that Victoria was named No. 2 Small City in the World in Conde Nast Traveller in 2022.
The market has also lost hotel rooms.
“Significant closures include the Harbour Towers Hotel, Paul’s Motor Inn and The Comfort Inn and Suites on Blanshard Street,” Nursey said. “In addition, Airbnb is highly regulated in the City of Victoria, which provides predictability for hotel developers.”
Domestic, American, European and Australian visitors are returning to Victoria, post-pandemic. "We have yet to see visitors from Asia return to pre-pandemic levels,” Nursey said.
Douglas Street project adds density north of downtown core
Meanwhile, Chard continues to work on a multi-tower proposal at 1961 Douglas St. and 710 Caledonia St., located just north of downtown.
Chard is proposing three buildings ranging from 16 to 21 storeys with a total of 450 homes, including market condos, and purpose-built rental homes, and 97,000 square-feet of commercial space.
One of the buildings will be owned and operated by B.C. Housing targeted for what Chard calls “workforce housing”. That would include below-market rents targeted at medium or average income earners.
The buildings would be connected by a podium which would include a daycare and full-sized grocery store, as well as a restaurant and café space. An 8,600-sq.ft. public plaza at the corner of Douglas and Caledonia will be the heart of this site.
The next step is public hearing.
"We're really excited for how multi-faceted this project is,” Chard said. “I'm really looking forward to having a public input as we go through the public hearing process."
Chard is a believer in Victoria
Chard said his company remains confident in Victoria’s future, where they’ve developed a specialization working with the city. Chard's website displays five projects in Victoria that are either active or proposed. “We're going to continue our long-term investment here,” Chard said.