County staff to investigate local accommodations development options

(Gazette file photo)

Study aims to help potential accommodations providers determine feasibility of investment




A study to assess local needs and potential opportunities within the accommodations sector was approved by the County’s community and economic development commission on Monday and staff will be looking to take advantage of local interest that has been expressed over the last year.

The commission initiated the project and the County contracted CBRE Limited in March 2017 to conduct the market study. In July last year initial findings revealed the municipality could support a 50-room resort-type hotel or a 60-room limited service hotel.

The final report says the county could potentially attract one of two development options: Either a 50-room unbranded inn or a 60-room branded limited service hotel.

Community development director Neil Carbone said staff will be looking to take advantage of some growing local interest in accommodations development.

“What we can say is we have a number of interested developers locally or regionally and we’re continuing to work with them,” he said.

There was an opportunity to solicit outside interest in accommodation development in the county through CBRE, but Carbone said there are sufficient local leads that staff would prefer to investigate first.

“We knew there was local interest in that already, so we want to pursue that a bit further,” Carbone told the commission.“Our recommendation is not to solicit outside interest just yet through the company at additional expense, but to spend this year working with local developers and other interested parties that have connected with the County and leveraging this information first through those channels before going outside or spending more dollars to attract a brand of accommodation.”

Carbone said the community development department would advise the commission if those local opportunities ultimately don’t come to fruition.

The report, presented to the commission Monday, says the 50-room unbranded inn would include conference facilities with about 2,500 square feet of meeting space — big enough for about 200 people. It could also accommodate a on-site 40-seat restaurant with additional seating outdoors.

The report suggests the development could also include things like a wellness studio, fitness classes, and bicycle rentals. The report says the inn would appeal to leisure travellers and an independent inn would give more flexibility in amenities, design, and position.

The second option, a 60-room branded limited service hotel, would open the development to various established brands. The hotel could include a breakfast room, 1,200 square feet of meeting space, and would allow the property to accommodate about 100 people. It could include a fitness room and a small convenience shop as well.

The report says this type of development would appeal to a broad range of guests, would be more cost-effective to develop and operate, and the branding would enhance the appeal of the property to the hotel investment and lending community.

The report suggests Picton, Consecon, and Wellington have the strongest potential to support these types of developments based on access, ingress and egress, visibility, and proximity to amenities and municipal services.

The information collected was meant to help potential accommodation developers determine the feasibility of building in Prince Edward County.

The study considered a regional competitive market that included communities in Northumberland County, Belleville, Quinte West, Napanee, and Prince Edward County.
Carbone said there are still plenty of items to be worked out if a development were to move forward.

“There are still a whole host of decisions that would still have to come before council if something were to happen,” he said, noting it wouldn’t be much different than a developer approaching the department about a subdivision.

Commission member Tim Ward said he supported moving forward with local options, but said there should be alternatives in place.

“It’s a wise approach to go locally first and follow up with the existing leads but, based on the work that went into this, if that doesn’t come to fruition it would be wise to have a plan to move forward if something doesn’t come up,” he said.

“A proactive approach would be an ideal situation if our local options have been exhausted.”
The full report is available online and is expected to be presented to council at a future meeting.