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UVic Properties seeks operating partner for Swans Hotel and Brewpub

Swans Brewpub

UVic Properties, which manages non-academic properties on behalf of the University of Victoria, has announced a plan to invigorate Swans Hotel and Brewpub as a thriving hospitality enterprise. The plan maintains the legacy of the late Michael Williams, who donated Swans to UVic in 2001 to support the university’s academic mission.

UVic Properties has issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEOI) in order to qualify interested parties for a partnership opportunity to operate the popular downtown pub, hotel, brewery and liquor store. UVic will continue to own the heritage-designated building and property at 506 Pandora Ave.

“Swans is a strong hospitality brand in Victoria and the property is well located in an emerging area of the city. In order to maintain our relevance, we are looking for a dynamic partnership opportunity that would see Swans revitalized to maintain a viable and sustainable source of revenue from the business and we expect an operating partner to deliver those results,” says Peter Kuran, president and CEO of UVic Properties. “A partnership with a proven hospitality operator will ensure this property continues to financially support UVic and assures that the hotel, brewery and pub have a strong, viable future. In this way, we continue to honour Michael Williams’ legacy toward post-secondary education and community benefit.”

Following a strategic review of its property assets, UVic Properties initiated a consultation process in late 2015, asking Victoria hospitality businesses to help determine a future direction for Swans. Through that process, it was determined that the best way forward was through a partner with core expertise in hospitality operations.

“In keeping with our accountability to the university, UVic Properties is taking a responsible fiscal approach to ensure a strong, long-term future for Swans,” says Tony Gage, UVic Properties board chair. “We looked to industry experts for their advice and we expect there will be significant interest in this partnership opportunity.”

UVic Properties expects to short-list qualified proponents by late March and review detailed proposals from those selected later in the spring.  As part of the RFEOI, UVic Properties is looking for plans that maintain continuous employment for existing employees while allowing the university to maintain ownership of the property. Employees will be offered incentive plans to remain with Swans during a potential transition.

“We are open to a range of partnership options, but we remain committed to our valued employees and have made it known to them that they are key to the future success of the operation,” says Kuran.

UVic is grateful to Michael Williams for his legacy gift that continues to provide financial benefits to further the university’s academic mission.  The gift includes Swans Hotel and Brewpub and nine additional city properties, as well as an extensive fine arts and antiques collection. Revenue from the real estate supports initiatives including student scholarships, the Legacy Art Gallery and the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest.

Swans will continue to be part of this legacy gift and the partnership will include recognition of the gift and showcasing of the art collection.  

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