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Marcon applies to build 32-storey hotel in downtown Vancouver

Structure would have a 578-room hotel, some office space and a rooftop restaurant
The Henriquez Partners Architects-designed, 318-foot-tall structure at 516-534 West Pender Street and 509 Richards Street would retain two heritage buildings' facades

Vancouver developer Marcon has revealed plans to build the city's largest new hotel in decades – a 318-foot-tall structure at 516-534 West Pender Street and 509 Richards Street, which would have 32 storeys and 578 hotel rooms.

The proposal comes at a time when Vancouver has a scarcity of hotel rooms and tourism advocates, such as Destination Vancouver CEO Royce Chwin, have been advocating for developers to build more hotels and for the city to quickly approve applications.

Marcon filed its rezoning application for the site with the City of Vancouver. 

Henriquez Partners Architects designed the tower, which would include:
•approximately 433,471 sq. ft. of hotel space;
•approximately 20,442 sq. ft. of commercial space; and
•approximately 44,132 sq. ft. of office space, according to Marcon's application.

The plan is for the site to have a rooftop restaurant.

"We just applied," Henriquez Partners Architects' managing principal Gregory Henriquez told BIV.  "We're excited to go through the rezoning process. We know Vancouver needs more hotels, and we think that site, which is an above-grade parkade, definitely can be improved upon with a new development.”

The site includes two heritage buildings – Lumberman's Building at 509 Richards Street, and Captain Pybus Building at 534 West Pender Street – and Henriquez' plan is to retain those buildings' facades. 

He said that office space in the building will be on the top floor. The plan for the site would be to have 146 vehicle parking spaces and 91 bicycle parking spaces.

The proposed hotel would have more rooms than the 2017-built Parq Vancouver complex, which has a combined 517 hotel rooms in the JW Marriott and Douglas hotels. The last time a larger hotel was built in the city would have been in 2001, when Wall Financial Corp. (TSX:WFC) built its 746-room One Wall Centre on Burrard Street.

The only other major hotel development in the city at the moment is on Howe Street near West Georgia Street.

Cadillac Fairview in 2020 decided not to renew the Four Seasons Hotel's lease on what was a 372-room hotel that connected to Pacific Centre on Howe Street. Cadillac Fairview's Western Canadian director, Tom Knoepfel, told BIV at the time that the company's plan was to renovate the building to make it fit for a "world-leading, luxury lifestyle brand." No new hotel brand has yet been announced for the site. 

Chwin on Feb. 16 told the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade that the city's scarcity of hotel rooms could in future mean that the city fails to reap the economic advantages of a thriving tourism economy.

His organization's research shows that Metro Vancouver had 23,449 hotel rooms in 2019. The region has lost about 2,000 hotel rooms since 2010, with about 1,500 of those rooms being in the city of Vancouver, according to the report.

Some of those lost rooms came because of major downtown hotels being torn down, such as the 357-room Empire Landmark on Robson Street in 2017. The Coast Plaza Stanley Park Hotel on Denman Street also closed.

Chwin said demand for the region's hotel rooms will exceed supply by the summer of 2028. By 2040, projected demand for hotel rooms will exceed supply year-round, he added. 

"By 2050, based on calculations, there will be $20 billion lost in direct revenue," he said. 

He said Metro Vancouver needs about 20,000 new hotel rooms by 2050 to avoid that lost revenue. 

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