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Old Posted Aug 13, 2009, 1:40 AM
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Here's a new article from the leader post.
Regina-based Westgate Development to head Plains Hotel project
By Joe Couture, Leader-PostAugust 12, 2009 8:34 PM
REGINA — While the architectural firm working on plans to redevelop the Plains Hotel is Ontario-based, the developers behind the project are headquartered in Regina.

Westgate Development is a Regina-based firm that has owned the Plains Hotel property, including the on-site Sushi Bank eatery and Good Time Charlie's Pub, for the last four years, noted financing director Regina Kim on Wednesday.

"The development company is a local company," she said, adding her father, Yosup, is the owner. He has spent 12 years in the hospitality industry and has owned hotels in Edmonton and Estevan.

But the proposed building of an eight-storey hotel and 19-storey condominium tower on the site now occupied by the Plains Hotel will be the first major development effort to be undertaken by the corporation, formed for that purpose.

"This is going to be our first project," Kim said, noting the firm has plans for future projects in Regina, as well.

"We're very optimistic about the Regina economy right now," she stated.

She pointed out that in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, individuals purchase condominiums as investments. With the City of Regina's proposed downtown neighbourhood plan entitled "Walk to Work" seeking to increase residency downtown, Kim noted a condominium complex would give people options to invest in real estate in a downtown with a renewed population.

"The city has implemented programs to bring more people to live in the downtown, just like the bigger cities," she said. "They're planning to urbanize. Downtown Regina is going to be a lot different five years from now. In the bigger cities, they have a lot of people living in condominiums downtown."

Kim encouraged investors small and large to look at Regina's downtown.

"We implemented this project believing it will bring a lot of value to Regina citizens in terms of investments," she explained. "People should invest."

Of the Plains hotel site, Kim said her "father had the vision to convert this property into a newly developed (hotel and condominium complex) when he purchased (it) four years ago." The timing worked out well with the city's proposed downtown neighbourhood plan, which lists guidelines for developers in the downtown — the company's proposed design is the first to embrace the plan's ideas.

Contrary to earlier indications, the hotel proposed for the site is a Hilton Garden Inn, not a Hampton Inn, Kim said. Though both are brands of the Hilton hotel company, Hilton Garden Inns are more upscale and provide full-service for business and leisure travellers, which is what the developers wanted to achieve, she added.

Though Westgate Development is still studying its target markets, Kim said indications are units in the condominium tower would be of the luxury nature.

Overall, the busy intersection at Albert Street and Victoria Avenue would be dramatically changed, she noted. Council is expected to consider the firm's proposal for the corner as early as next month, if everything goes as planned.

"We're so excited about this," said Kim. She acknowledged that the corner as it currently exists doesn't have the highest reputation in terms of safety. "It's going to be attractive. It's going to be newer. It's going to be a safe place."

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