The developer of a major multi-million dollar hotel and restaurant development on the Trans-Canada Highway in Revelstoke has announced it is pulling out of the project, citing frustration with city hall.
The Revelstoke Crossing development at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 23 North has been winding through the development process for nine years, said the proponents.
The property is closely associated with developer Steve Platt, a Dallas, Texas-based property developer whose company Creststone Development has created several business and retail park developments in that state.
Platt came to the Revelstoke area before the Revelstoke Mountain Resort boom and purchased several development properties here. Platt is known for his large residential mansion located on Airport Way south of Revelstoke. He developed the heritage award-winning building at 200 Second St. East – the brick building across the empty lot from city hall.
Late last week, Platt told Mayor David Raven that his local company, Big Bend Development Corporation, was giving up plans to further develop Revelstoke Crossing and was putting the property up for sale.
In a telephone interview from Texas with the Times Review, Platt declined to comment on his company’s reasons for pulling out, referring questions to business partner Terry Lowrey.
Lowrey issued a brief statement expressing displeasure with city hall: “The regulatory and political environment in Revelstoke is the reason that we are selling the property. After almost nine years of work we are moving on.”
Reacting to rumours that the property developers were halting their plans, the Times Review attended the planning committee’s regular meeting on April 25, where Revelstoke Crossing was on the agenda.
At that meeting, City of Revelstoke Director of Planning John Guenther updated the committee on the development.
“We’ve given the applicant a step-by-step evaluation of the next steps in subdivision. It deals with the land exchange, the road closure question and the works and services agreement,” he said. “We can’t move ahead with subdivision until the works and services agreement and financial security is in place. So, we’re in a holding pattern in many respects because none of this can be finalized until the applicant steps up.”
However, in a subsequent interview, Mayor David Raven said Platt had informed him of his intention to withdraw and sell the property on April 19.
“It’s disappointing,” Raven said. “We thought it was a very exciting proposal, and it’s one that would have provided really strong economic benefits, particularly if there was three or four hotels built on that site. We’re still hoping that something will come forward.”
Throughout the development of the Revelstoke Crossing, the mayor has recused himself from city council discussions of the project citing a conflict; Platt was the sole major financial contributor to Raven’s first bid for mayor in 2008.
Raven said he’d updated the planning department on April 22, three days before the planning committee meeting.
So, why was this fact not on the table during a planning discussion of the development a few days later? Planning committee chairperson Coun. Linda Nixon said there had been in camera discussions “in recent months.”
In a later interview with the Times Review, Guenther explained a notification from the mayor was not an official notification – that must come from the developer.
“You may call it technical, but I call it a very important distinction between what our role is and what our role is not. If Steve [Platt] called me and said that to me and he wanted that to be known, then you would know that. But I don’t know that.”
Guenther also disputed the nature of the notification from the mayor on April 22. “The mayor came in for like five minutes on Monday and said, ‘There’s some issues here, and he’s working through a number of things, and there’s some challenges he’s got.’ That was the discussion I had.” Guenther said, in any case, it was inappropriate for him to receive notification from the mayor because he was associated with Platt.
“The mayor, with his role working with Steve Platt, I don’t want to tread into that area because it’s really an ownership question and he’s playing a different role than he would normally as an elected official,” Guenther said.
Guenther said although the current owner of the property is selling it, the potential to develop the property still exists, and a potential buyer would be paying for and inherit the development work done so far. “That potential still exists there,” he said.