Granville Street is set to get a new look by next spring with the new Hotel Belmont replacing the Comfort Inn at the corner of Granville and Nelson streets, the building’s owner and Pacific Reach CEO Azim Jamal confirmed to Business in Vancouver October 4.
The Comfort Inn, its street-level Doolin’s Irish Pub and its basement nightclub Belmont Bar will all close for business on October 31 with renovations starting the next day, he said.
The transformation is part of broader change on the Granville strip.
A couple blocks north, Regus-owned Spaces is expected to be open by the end of 2018, offering co-working spaces for entrepreneurs in the former Tom Lee Music building at 929 Granville Street. Blueprint also intends to open its fourth Colony restaurant at 967 Granville Street, in space that was the Caprice Nightclub, by December, Blueprint’s director of people and culture Hanna Jane Price confirmed to BIV on October 3.
“We’re not demolishing anything,” said Jamal, whose company bought the Comfort Inn site from longtime owner Granville Entertainment Group in mid-2017.
“We’re renovating the existing property. It’s a great corner.”
The 82-room Comfort Inn building was constructed in 1912 by Major James Matthews, a New Zealand expat who went on to become city archivist in the 1930s, according to Pacific Reach. Since then the building has housed the Hotel Belmont, the Nelson Place Hotel and the Nelson Beer Parlour. In the 1990s, the Nelson Beer Parlour evolved to be the tapas restaurant Babalu, which booked Michael Buble to sing during the early days of his career, according to Pacific Reach.
The site's basement, which is now home to the Belmont Bar, decades ago was the exotic nightclub, Champagne Charlies. In the mid-1990s, that space was The Cellar.
Jamal expects the renovation to take six months with the result being a “lifestyle, boutique hotel that is going to be fun, hip and current,” with a bar at street level to be named the Living Room. A separate bar underground will be named the Basement, he said.
He expects what he called a “stylish” and “trendy” crowd.
“This is going to be the start of a real renaissance and reinvigoration of the Granville entertainment scene,” Jamal said.
Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) CEO Charles Gauthier agreed that the transformation at that corner will be significant, as will the other upgrades further north.
“I’m not at liberty to talk about some other big moves that I’m hearing,” he said.
“Changes take time because of the same issue – every business has to go to the city and try to get a permit to do something. It takes a long time. Unfortunately the changes aren’t fast enough for any of us, including the DVBIA, but I’m hoping that we will turn a corner at the city in regards to that sometime soon.”
Vancouver’s civic election is October 20.