New Brunswick

$17M hotel to be built beside Moncton's new downtown centre

The Corey Craig Group paid $3 million for a parcel of land across from Moncton's downtown centre. Council was giddy with excitement, and profits from the sale are already written into the centre's construction budget.

Corey Craig Group pays $3M for chunk of land near Downtown Event Centre

Craig O'Neill is the president and CEO of Corey Craig Group. He said the construction of his new 120 room hotel will begin this spring and hopes it will be finished by early 2020. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Moncton council could barely contain its excitement while approving the $3 million sale of a piece of prime downtown real estate to the Corey Craig Group on Monday night.

The land, which is currently used as a parking lot for people working on the Downtown Event Centre, will be a 120-room Hyatt Hotel, costing about $17 million.

Craig O'Neill, president and CEO of Corey Craig Group, said the purchase has been in the works for about two years.

"Construction is going to start in the spring of 2018, with an 18-month window so we should be able to turn that around by early 2020."

O'Neill owns 37 Tim Hortons restaurants across southeastern New Brunswick. His company also owns Wendy's outlets and the Holiday Inn Express, near the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport.

A round of applause rang out through council chambers as the motion to sell the land was approved.

Pictured is a rendering of what the 120-room hotel is expected to look like. The building will boast 142 parking spaces. (Submitted)

O'Neill's proposal to buy the land, was the only one submitted to council. But Marc Landry, a city manager, said the offer is within the parameters of what the city was looking for.

"The standards were very high in this process," said Landry

According to Landry, negotiations took place between June and November and "the price range was achieved" with the $3 million offer.

In 2016, then city manager Jacques Dubé, estimated the land was worth $3.5 million. It was also part of the parking lot for the former Highfield Square.

City is 'thrilled'

Councillors couldn't hold back their enthusiasm at the done deal.

The profits from the sale are also included in the construction budget of the well-under-way downtown centre.

Mayor Dawn Arnold thanked the developer and said the city is "thrilled with this."

Her comments echoed many other councillors' sentiments, including Coun. Blair Lawrence, who thanked O'Neill for having "faith in the city." 

The hotel will have a pool, retail space, a restaurant and 142 parking spaces.

Rice Contracting Ltd. of Moncton will build the structure and Architects Four Limited, are providing the planning and design work.

Craig O'Neill presented his proposal to council, the approval of the purchase was met with applause. The $3 million profit from the sale is already written into the downtown centre's construction budget. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

From the beginning of the design process, council dictated the nearly 9,000 seat centre would not have a designated parking lot.

In the past, city staff have done studies determining the 4,000 available parking spaces, alongside the transit system, will be enough to accommodate patrons.

But some downtown business owners say otherwise and worry there won't be any space left when an event is happening at the centre.

The downtown centre is scheduled to de finished in September of 2018.