Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/12/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
STUDENTS from around the world could soon be calling the former Downtowner Motor Hotel their new home away from home.
The owners of Winnipeg's India Palace Restaurant -- Ashwani and Suroj Nagpal -- have purchased the former Ellice Avenue hotel-turned-hostel from the North Portage Development Corporation for about $2 million, and are spending more than a million dollars to convert it into a residence for foreign and out-of-town students.
They'll also be opening a 70-seat, internationally themed restaurant and a small cafeteria in the three-storey building, which is located on the southwest corner of Ellice Avenue and Kennedy Street. The restaurant will be open to the public, while the cafeteria will be used to feed the student residents, who will have meals included in their rent.
"The experience of our own children is the reason we're doing this," Ashwani Nagpal said in a written statement released on Friday. "They were disoriented and felt very alone when they first arrived in a new city to study. Finding accommodation, having your meals taken care of, is key to settling in to the real reason you're there -- to study and enjoy the student experience."
Winnipeg's Sovereign Construction Ltd. has been hired to oversee the conversion project, do the renovation work and act as the official spokesman for the Nagpals, said company co-owner and general manager Manny Singh.
Singh said the bulk of the interior renovations and upgrades will be completed within the next couple of months, and will cost about $500,000. The exterior renovations, which are expected to cost "a lot more than that," won't be done until the summer.
Singh said they hope to have the residence and restaurant open by mid-March.
He said they're also looking at converting the hotel's former beverage room into a small banquet facility, but he wasn't sure when that would open.
Singh said the Nagpals expect to attract students "from all over the world," as well as some from rural Manitoba and other provinces.
In the written statement, Nagpal said with Red River College's downtown campus and the University of Winnipeg close by, they're hoping to rent all 40 rooms for the full school year, and to open them up to casual visitors or summer students in the off-season.
"We would also like to serve the parents of international students by setting aside a few VIP rooms that could be used for times when they visit for extended periods," he added.
North Portage purchased the hotel in 2008 to put a stop to it selling liquor to people for off-premises consumption.
It subsequently leased the building to Hostelling International Manitoba, which converted it into a hostel and pub/bistro (the Lo Pub). When the hostel and pub closed their doors last August, the corporation put the property up for sale, with the stipulation that any new use could not include the sale of liquor for off-premises consumption.
North Portage CEO Jim August said more than a dozen parties toured the property and four submitted formal bids. The Nagpals' was the highest bid.
While "it came down to dollars and cents," August said the corporation also liked the Nagpals' plans for redeveloping the property.
He noted Red River College and Winnipeg's two universities are both trying to attract more foreign students, "and I think this will serve that demographic well."
Also, "their student-focused idea fits perfectly with the neighbourhood and with the community it is serving," he added.
Singh said the interior renovations will include redoing the lobby area, stripping paint off the original woodwork and some interior glass walls, and installing new washrooms, beds, and carpeting throughout the building. The exterior renovations will include replacing all of the windows and installing new metal cladding.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2013 B4
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Big shortfall in mining-taxes prediction
Lower fuel expected to drive airline stocks
New ammunition against canola foe
Oil soars on signs US oil companies curtail production
N.W.T. runs first oil exploration auction
Government sells scandalized Teapot Dome oilfield for $45M
Consumers fuel steady US economy as rest of world struggles
New York wage board suggests $7.50 wage for tipped workers
Fewer drivers dying behind the wheel
FTC clears Sun Pharma's $4B purchase of competitor Ranbaxy
Billionaire: Taj Mahal benefit cuts an 'essential sacrifice'
Mexico cuts spending by $8.4 billion due to oil price drop
McDonald's new CEO faces onslaught of competition
Colorado considers ban on welfare cards at pot shops
Alibaba promises more action against fake goods
Poor design blamed for mine dam collapse: report
Initial public offerings scheduled to debut next week
Pilots at American and US Airways approve joint contract
CIBC lays off staff as borrowing wanes
BMW fixes security flaw that exposed 2.2M cars to break-ins
Stock market heading lower in midday trading
Bison makes top 20 among North American trucking companies
Grain mostly lower, livestock mixed
Court upholds deceptive ad claims against POM
Shake Shack shares more than double in stock market debut
Jury deliberations continue in Toyota Camry case
Valeant seeks to buy rights to cancer vaccine
Veteran newsman Kevin McIntosh dies at 64
Ottawa reports $3.3B deficit so far in '14-15
Nova Scotia mill to challenge pollution rules
US consumer sentiment rises to highest level since 2004
Stocks fall after government reports slower economic growth
Barclays downgrades three big Canadian banks
Cash flows from remnants of Arctic Glacier fund
AbbVie reports better-than-expected 4Q on Humira sales
Loonie lower, November GDP declines
TSX up, loonie plunges amid slowing growth
US pay and benefits rose at slightly faster pace last year
US economy slowed last quarter, but signs are pointing up
MasterCard tops Street 4Q forecasts