Construction began Monday on a new 80-room hotel at Credit Union Place in Summerside.
The start of the build signals confidence in the local economy coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the city's director of community services.
"I think it's a very smart move by the developers to be in construction now to capitalize on post-COVID tourism opportunities and knowing that this is a destination of choice," said J.P. Desrosiers.
"What we're seeing, you know, in the sport tourism industry with events being announced … even in the music industry with events being announced, you're seeing things that are triggering people to think that we're going to be on the other side of this," he said.
The new four-storey hotel will have between 78 and 84 rooms, and is located on what is now the front lawn of Credit Union Place, a community arena and wellness centre.
Desrosiers said plans for the hotel have been in the works for years, and the easing of COVID restrictions finally made the timing right to begin construction.
"Whether you're here as a convention guest, whether you're in town as a business client, whether you're here for a minor hockey tournament or a swim meet … the ability to be able to stay on site during all those activities is certainly fantastic," said Desrosiers.
He said over the past six weeks, Credit Union Place has started to confirm bookings for 2022, including the Canada Cup of Wrestling, and concerts that had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
The contract to build the hotel was awarded to RCS, a construction and project management firm based in Bedford, N.S.
"We're very excited to be in the location we are. And we think that we have an amazing partnership with … Summerside," said Doug Doucette, CEO and president of RCS.
The hotel will be operated by Microtel Inns and Suites by Wyndham.
Construction will create 100 or more jobs while the building goes up, and the hotel itself will employ two or three dozen people after it opens.
Before construction could begin, the city transferred ownership of the plot of land the hotel will sit on to the developer, for the sum of one dollar.
"The land for a dollar has always been part of that incentive to encourage a developer to build a hotel here. What it means is a new corporate tax base. It means a sizeable amount of new business to happen in our facility," said Desrosiers.
"So the taxpayer is certainly going to get a much better rate of return with a hotel on this site than we were seeing before with nothing on it."
Desrosiers said the hotel is slated to finish construction in 12 to 14 months.
"With COVID, sometimes the deliverables on products and things can slow things down. So we understand that. But they want to be done as quickly as possible, and so do we."
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