Six years after entering a public-private partnership with the City of Ottawa, Forum Equity Partners Inc. announced Thursday plans to begin construction of a new hotel and office building in Orleans.
The 100-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites Hotel will sit behind the Shenkman Arts Centre next to the Queensway, drawing a client base of an estimated 75 per cent business people and 25 per cent tourists according to Bobby Sandhu, president of Sandhu Hotels and Hospitality who will be building the facility.
Forum had an arrangement to sell the hotel lands to Sandhu in 2009 but when the debt market seized up, plans were put on hold, said Forum president Richard Abboud.
"We much would have preferred for (the construction time) to be shorter," he said. "We really see this as a relaunch of the project."
Although there is now another hotel in Orleans, a 63-room Quality Inn that opened in 2011, Mr. Sandhu said that the more upscale five-storey Holiday Inn will attract a different, but sufficient, client base.
The $15-million project will create between 35-40 jobs according to Mr. Sandhu, and includes three meeting rooms, each about 1,500 square feet in size that can accommodate up to 100 people.
The city has yet to grant the construction permit for the hotel as several last-minute details are being worked out, but Mr. Sandhu said that permission will arrive any day.
"Once we get a permit, it's going to go up like crazy," he said, predicting that it will be completed by spring 2013.
The hotel ground-breaking event, held at the Shenkman Arts Centre, also marked the launch of a marketing campaign for two office buildings containing a total of 160,000 square feet of space to be constructed by Forum.
Mr. Abboud said he is hoping to see some government interest to rent the office space, as well as some larger corporate tenants. Despite many office buildings currently under construction in Ottawa, he said he feels Orleans is a strong market.
"We think this is a fantastic opportunity to have a dynamic place to work," he said, citing nearby restaurants, Place d'Orleans shopping mall and a YMCA as reasons why employers would want to lease space in the new Orleans Town Centre.
Floor plans are still being developed, but Mr. Abboud said to expect an announcement later this year or early next.
The $225 million Orleans Town Centre P3 was awarded to a consortium led by Forum and includes the Shenkman Arts Centre, the hotel and Hill Side Terrace - a 53 townhome and 32 condo residential development that will soon undergo construction - as well as retail and commercial space, a seniors home, seniors condo and green space.