Monday, July 12, 2010

York Hotel Update

One of the hot topics out there as we head in to the fall election is the city's purchase of the York Hotel. As it turns out the hotel is on the agenda for our regular General Government Services committee meeting this Wednesday. Staff are bringing forward a simple report to update council on what will be happening with the property over the next while. The highlights:

Building Tenants
Mar 4th, City takes ownership of the hotel
Apr 7th, Residential tenants were gone
Jun 17th, Commercial tenants were gone

Timelines for demolition (estimated)
July 9th, Receive hazardous material identification report.
July 23rd, Tender Hazardous material removal contract
Aug 23rd, Award Hazardous material removal contract & tender Demolition contract
Sept 20th, Award Demolition contract
Nov 12th, Demolition complete

Costs to Date
Building purchase $1.1 Million
Operational costs since purchase $52,497.53
(Operational costs are mostly related to security & utilities. Security costs are down significantly since the tenants moved out.)

I know a lot of people who have been concerned that the building would sit as a boarded up eyesore down town and with that in mind I've been pushing to have this all happen as quickly as is reasonably possible. If everything goes according to the plan above I think it's fair to say that we've had a pretty rapid process & that will be good for downtown.

As for next steps... I believe we need to come up with a plan that will see a new building built on the site sooner, rather than later. I also think we need to do that in a coordinated fashion, rather than dealing with just this property in isolation from the rest of downtown. I believe we should be to open up the downtown enhancement plan and take a big picture look at the west end of the city's core because there are a lot of changes coming to that area in the next few years.

In addition to the changes at the York Hotel/Germain Park property, eventually the old Park Hotel will come down and the city will build the 101 Ave couplet that will cross through the area of the old Coca-Cola bottling plant. When you add all this up we have a chance to remake the face of our downtown, if we have a good plan that looks at everything together, rather than dealing with individual sections.

I would like to see more mixed use development (commercial on the bottom and residential or office on upper floors) in the downtown. I believe having more people live in the heart of the city adds life to the streets and provides a housing option that is in short supply in GP.

So this Wednesday we're getting an update on the work that's been done so far and what's coming up shortly & that all looks well in hand. Now I want to see us get started on where we're going to go in the long term.

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