Nat Bosa buys Victoria's Empress Hotel, plans renovation

Vancouver’s Bosa Development has bought Victoria’s iconic Fairmont Empress, owner Nat Bosa confirmed to Business in Vancouver June 27.

Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria

Vancouver’s Bosa Development has bought Victoria’s iconic Fairmont Empress, owner Nat Bosa confirmed to Business in Vancouver June 27.

“We’re going to definitely have a renovation plan,” he said. “We’ll work on one together with [operator] Fairmont and we’re going to be very careful to respect the heritage side of the building, which is what makes it such an incredible hotel.”

Indeed, the 106-year-old, ivy-covered hotel faces Victoria’s Inner Harbour and is featured on many postcards featuring the city.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec subsidiary Ivanhoe Cambridge put the hotel up for sale on May 30 as part of a strategy to shed hotel assets.

One of the other six Ivanhoe Cambridge hotels up for sale include Vancouver’s iconic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver but Bosa said he is not interested in that property.

“Let’s savour this purchase for now before we start thinking about buying any more,” said Bosa, who owns no other hotels. “I am actually quite excited about it. Isn’t that amazing? I’m buying an old hotel and I’m excited. I’ve got to be crazy.”

Hotel sales had been relatively slow during the past few years but B.C.’s R.P.B Holdings sold Vancouver’s Best Western Sands Hotel to an unnamed buyer for $31 million on June 11.

Bosa would not disclose the financial terms of his transaction to buy the Empress but the property is assessed at $89.9 million, making it one of the most valuable properties in Victoria.

Bosa can sometimes be a contrarian.

Some of his other projects include developing two condominium projects in the U.S. One, in Seattle, is for 707 units in two 41-storey towers. His other condominium project is a 267-unit development in two towers in San Francisco.

Other B.C. developers constructing multi-family projects in the U.S. have tended to build rental units. Watch for a larger story on this trend next week in BIV.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom