A Victoria-based company has struck a conditional deal to purchase Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn and Suites. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Victoria company plans to re-develop iconic Sidney motel

Public information session postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

A developer struck a conditional deal to purchase Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn and Suites with an eye towards building a four-storey mixed residential-commercial development on the site. The Lochside Drive location would include up to 265 rental units ranging from studios to four-bedroom townhouses.

The ocean-facing business is a familiar, even iconic site in the region, with countless motorists, cyclists and pedestrians passing it.

Jordan Milne, president and chief executive officer of GMC Projects, said the deal hinges on council rezoning the property from its current neighbourhood motel with a maximum height of nine metres (two storeys). “The property needs to be entitled for more than a motel and a restaurant given its size in order for it to proceed,” he said, adding about one-third of the 3.25-acre property remains unused.

RELATED: Six stories a non-starter at Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn site

Milne said his company’s plan “aligns very much” with the findings of Sidney’s recent housing needs assessment. “Our real goal is trying to fill that gap as it has been identified,” he said, adding the company has no interest in offering condominiums for purchase.

Milner did not disclose the purchase price for the motel built in the 1980s. “The assessed value of the property is obviously seven figures, so the purchase price would reflect that as well,” he said.

BC Assessment listed the value of the property located at 9522 Lochside Dr. at $8,341,600.

Milner later added that the purchase purchase “does not contemplate the value” of the existing site based on its existing use. “So if we are going to be unable to obtain a re-zoning, whether it is in the form that we are first envisioning or a modified form that may come after feedback, if we are unable to make a business case for it, then obviously we wouldn’t be proceeding,” he said.

Neither an artistic rendering nor a physical model of the proposed development is currently available, and the company had planned to reveal a model showing the proposed massing of the development to the surrounding neighbourhood in what was advertised as a workshop community meeting initially scheduled for March 18 at the Peace Lutheran Church. But the spread of COVID-19 led the company to postpone that meeting until such time that the situation had cleared up.

RELATED: New report finds many Sidney residents struggle with housing affordability

Milner said the meeting aims to engage residents and other stakeholders into what he called “some early and meaningful dialogue” around his company’s vision for the site to ensure it blends into the neighbourhood.

“[The] goal is we are going to have a workshop and we are going to put ourselves in a position to hear from the immediate neighbours and show them the density in order to facilitate the vision that we have,” he said. “They will then be able to plug and play with some of the building blocks to decide how the site should be best laid out to accommodate that density.”

Milner said the property currently does not offer much to the neighbourhood.

“What we are envisioning would provide a lot of benefits to the neighbourhood,” he added. That vision would include, among other things, a coffee shop and other benefits to users of public amenities along Lochside Drive.

“Our hope is to build an amenity-rich multi-generational community coupled with neighbourhood focused commercial space,” reads a letter that the company distributed to residents in the area.

When asked whether the public has a veto over the development, Milner said that council ultimately has a veto.

“There is a public process that has to unfold to facilitate our plan,” he said.

Milner added his company plans to submit an application later this spring, but could not give a specific date. “The first process is to have the workshop with the neighbours, to understand their thoughts, their concerns and their ideas, and then modify the plan as needed.”

This proposal is the latest in a series of attempted re-developments.

Plans by Total Concept Developments, a Kamloops-based company, to build three six-storey buildings (one hotel, two residential buildings) along Lochside Drive saw the public light about two years ago but did not get off the ground.


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