I can't believe we don't have a thread on this, but....
Royal Hotel to be turned into condos
September 18, 2007
The rotting, city-owned Royal Hotel will be transformed into upscale condominiums and retail space if a city developer's plans unfold as promised.
But taxpayers lost $732,668 on the deal to sell the building at Wellington and Main streets.
A $115,000 offer to purchase the building, from AAK General Construction of Cambridge, was formalized unanimously last night, after being accepted in principle in a closed-door council meeting Aug. 13.
Downtown ward Coun. Ben Tucci was the only council member to speak to the issue.
"I support the motion wholeheartedly," he said.
Two years ago, he pushed council to expropriate the building for $650,000 to remove the public safety hazard from downtown.
Police and downtown residents had ongoing concerns about the low-income rooms for rent. The building, built in 1850, was the hub of downtown's drug and prostitution problems. When a fire inspection in December 2005 found exposed wires, and hearing rumours that someone was planning to torch the building, city officials ordered the building condemned just before Christmas. City and region officials helped tenants find other places to live.
Since then, the city has spent another $197,668 on boarding up the building and security patrols. When the city decided to sell it, it had an appraisal value of $450,000.
The building was listed with Coldwell Banker realty, which toured 15 potential buyers through the building over six months.
Council wanted the landmark building's exterior saved. Council rejected one offer on the building, from Cambridge Rollerama earlier this year, because it wasn't clear about its plans for the building, neither was it offering enough, Densmore said. The offer price was never made public.
As the building sat boarded up, mould and rot grew in the stale air, prompting open talk by councillors in the summer that demolition might be the only future for the building.
The building also lost resale value because there was no business operating in it after the hotel was closed, said Bo Densmore, the city's economic development commissioner.
Amir Klein, one of the owners of AAK construction, toured the building in June and worked fast with city officials to bring the offer forward in August.
He proposed to preserve the exterior of the building while reworking the interior. That was key to the city accepting the offer, a report to council says.
Klein has agreed to work with the city's heritage advisory committee "to restore the architectural facade of the building to its original states, or as best as feasibly possible," the report says. Klein has also agreed to have the prominent building designated as a historic structure once work is done.
As part of the deal to sell the building, the city will grant six parking permits in a nearby city lot for use by residents of the new condominium units.