Toronto Hotel X (was Hotel in the Garden) | ?m | 27s | Exhibition Place | NORR



From the Globe:

Archeological find at Ex hinders hotel project

What lies beneath has put a crimp in what is supposed to rise above the ground at Exhibition Place.

The site first proposed two years ago for a new mid-sized hotel and conference centre sits on an archeological site tied to Toronto's earliest days, an investigation has confirmed, forcing project sponsors to scout for nearby sites.

"The archeological remains are still there and there was some concern you don't want to disturb them," said deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, chairman of Exhibition Place.

In 2004, the city and property developer George Friedmann owner of the Windsor Arms Hotel, signed a letter of intent to develop a 175-room hotel and a 50,000-square-foot conference centre on lands south of the National Trade Centre between the 75-year-old Automotive Building and the Stanley Barracks. The development is part of a broader strategy to generate more year-round activity at Exhibition Place, home of the Canadian National Exhibition.

But an archeological investigation, required under city and provincial heritage rules, confirmed what history buffs already knew about Stanley Barracks, built in 1841 to replace Fort York. Only one stone building remains (braced by an old CNR locomotive and the steam tug Ned Hanlan) of what was once six military buildings surrounding a parade square. The stone and wooden footings of the other five structures, including a hospital and officers' mess, lie only a foot or so below the surrounding parking lot.

"All of us have been surprised by what we found, especially the archeology," Mr. Pantalone said. "We are redirecting it [the project] to protect this part of the heritage of the city."

The news is a relief to heritage advocates. "It's wise and prudent," said Stephen Otto, a director of Friends of Fort York.

The finds are expected to delay the hotel project initially forecast to open in April, 2007, by at least a year.

"All of us are committed to making it happen because it is needed," Mr. Pantalone said. "The negotiations are proceeding." Mr. Friedmann could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, the hunt is on for a new site. One option is to renovate the Automotive Building as a conference centre, while retaining the historic facade, and locate the hotel to the south.

Financial details of the proposed long-term deal between the city and the developer remain under wraps. But the broad concept is that the developer would put up key financing for the project (the conference centre could cost up to $40-million) and be repaid through profits generated by the conference centre.

This project is still (sort of) on? I'm surprised the Windsor Arms guy is operating it. Makes me think it might be a little more upscale than the Hampton Inn type I was expecting.
Star: Ex Tests Water for Hotel Plan

From the Star:

The Ex tests waters for hotel plan
Nov. 4, 2006. 01:00 AM

Exhibition Place will test the waters to see if anyone wants to build a hotel to complement the Direct Energy Centre, formerly the National Trade Centre.

The board of governors has authorized a request for expressions of interest from hotel developers, board chairman Joe Pantalone said yesterday.

"Requests for expressions of interest are just to see what's in the market," he said. "You go out to the market, see what's there ... then you evaluate what's there and decide whether you want to proceed or not."

If there's interest, he said, a request for formal proposals may be issued to elicit bids that may form a basis of discussion.

The initial call for interested parties is unlikely to bring responses before the spring, he said. If the board decides to go further, firm proposals wouldn't be submitted until late next year at the earliest, he said.

Show organizers have said the Direct Energy Centre would be more attractive if there was a hotel nearby. Pantalone said a hotel, if built, would "absolutely not" contain a casino.

Windsor Arms Hotel owner George Friedman had once proposed a hotel and conference centre for the exhibition grounds, to be designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects, but it has never gone ahead.

Greg Alexander of Brisbin Brook Beynon said yesterday the new request seems to put hotel proposals "back to square one," although the firm still has a design proposal on the table for a conference centre in the Automotive Building.

This would be so , so great for the area. My girlfriend and I often walk around the grounds and they are Toronto's best kept secret. The buildings are amazing, the atmosphere is like Disney meets Europe, yet no one is there.

The Hotel would be great for the trade shows, but also for the Indy, Soccer teams, guests at the Liberty Grand etc. Plus if it had a good restaraunt, I am sure locals from King west would show up.

I was at a meeting the other night with Joe ( myself and 7 others) and he mentioned an assessment being done right now to extend the streetcar lines through the ex, and out to the west.

If so, there would be much more easy access to this place. And why not put a casino in? Montreal is doing just fine with theirs. Has the city crumbled? Bring people down to this gem.

The princes's gates are amazing too. The only real drag si the way they have cut the lanes down on Straughn. It is one of the few ways to get on and off towards the Gardiner in the west end. And we now have massive traffic going both north and south. Withh Pig trucks trying to get too and from the meat packers place also. Who the hell wants to come into the area with all that.

Joe's answer to why they did this? "The city decided to be more bike and Ped friendly......" This was just a stupid answer. I have to admit, after meeting with him, I liked him alot more than before. But this kind of stuff is just ludicrous.

Lets be clear, I ride a bike everywhere, everyday, rain, shine or snow. but I also need to drive out to the burbs to work sometimes and visit family. Again, back to the area, they need to address this as people are not going to be attracted their for business, or fun stuff if it is such a pain to get in and out.

Not everyone is young and crazy enough to navigate our streets on a bike.
Joe's answer to why they did this?

Of course, Joe's answer is the Front Street Extension.

Anyway, I'm not opposed to the idea. THe Ex is a shadow of itself, becoming a hyped second-rate midway and a shopping show for junk. Diversifying the grounds (such as Liberty Grand, Trade Centre, the pro sports facilities and the proposed hotel) is the answer unless the Ex is turned around to something worth going to.

Perhaps Stinson should apply to build Sapphire there. This way the shadow won't hit anything.
When I first read the headline I thought it had something to do with building a floating hotel on the lake, which is a cool idea.
Of course, Joe's answer is the Front Street Extension.

Anyway, I'm not opposed to the idea. THe Ex is a shadow of itself, becoming a hyped second-rate midway and a shopping show for junk. Diversifying the grounds (such as Liberty Grand, Trade Centre, the pro sports facilities and the proposed hotel) is the answer unless the Ex is turned around to something worth going to.

I still love going to the Ex...lots of fun. I do think, however, the CNE and Ontario Place should come up with a comprehensive plan for the area that would include some residential. I think it's possible to turn the CNE grounds into an area where people live, that could also accomodate the CNE.
"Direct Energy Centre" makes me think of a club that plays loud music, not trade centre.
This reminds me: isn't our annual aquarium announcement due shortly?
I just hope the Ex doesn't become too corporate. I love the kitschyness of it, freaky carnies and all!!
Yeah, freaky carnies. That's right, the Ex seems like the sort of place which'd attract clones of that fat chick in Wilson Phillips
HK Hotel @ Exhibition Place.

From the Post:

City may spend $29M to turn automotive building into conference centre
James Cowan, National Post
Published: Thursday, February 08, 2007

The automotive building at Exhibition place may soon be redeveloped as a conference centre, according to a city report released yesterday. The main floor of the historic structure would be used as an exhibit hall or a grand ballroom, while a series of small meeting rooms would be installed on the second floor. Tourism officials say the city does not have enough space to host large-scale conventions. While the interior of the Automotive Building would be radically retrofitted, the exterior would remain the same, according to deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, a member of the Exhibition Place board of directors. The plan calls for the city to invest $29-million in the project.


Link to article

Facelift, new role for Ex site

Mar 08, 2007 04:30 AM
Donovan Vincent
city hall bureau

The Automotive Building at Exhibition Place will undergo a $29 million conversion into a "class A'' conference centre.

Toronto city council approved the move last night and construction is expected to begin in a few months with a September 2008 completion date.

Renovating the Automotive Building, a heritage structure, will allow the Direct Energy Centre across the street to attract large conventions, councillor and Exhibition Place chair Joe Pantalone said last night.

A consultant's study found the Direct Energy Centre needed another 30,000 to 50,000 square feet of meeting rooms, including a 20,000 square-foot ballroom-banquet facility.

The renovations will be financed in large part by a $21 million loan from the city and Exhibition Place reserve funds.

A partnership that includes Servomation Inc., the Automotive Building's caterer, will ante $4 million toward food and beverage equipment. In return, the caterer will receive a contract extension for 15 years, with an option for another five.

During debate Councillor Michael Walker voiced concerns about not tendering the food contract.

But Pantalone said waiting until Servomation's lease expired three years from now would only delay the project.
From the Star:

Talks reopen for Ex hotel
May 14, 2007 04:30 AM
John Spears
City hall bureau

Exhibition Place is talking to two business groups about building a hotel on the grounds near the Direct Energy Trade Centre, says Councillor Joe Pantalone.

A previous proposal to construct a hotel last year never came to fruition, and in November the Exhibition Place board put out a request for expressions of interest from developers.

Three groups responded, and Exhibition Place decided two responses were worth pursuing, said Pantalone, who chairs the board of governors. The two proponents have now been asked to submit formal proposals by the middle of June.

Pantalone wouldn't name the proponents. Both have local partners, he said, but one group is connected with Chinese partners and the other group has partners based in New York.

The proposed hotel would probably comprise about 200 rooms. The privately financed project would complement the trade centre and a new conference centre being developed in the Automotive Building, Pantalone said.