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
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Target speeds up its Canadian exit
DreamWorks' 'Home' bests 'Get Hard' at box office with $54M
How crowd-sourcing may solve native health crisis
Australia signs up to negotiations on Chinese-led bank
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached
Duke Energy CEO loses $600K in pay over coal ash pollution
John Baird is adviser to Barrick Gold
Nation's biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green money
Future Shop stores closing, 1,500 jobs lost
24-storey D CONDO TOWER set to rise on site of the former Restaurant Dubrovnik
Google to help build OR robots
Banning antibiotics what consumers want
Apple boss to give away fortune
The vacation bucket list
GOP-guided budget sets up battles between Congress and Obama
Chinese president promotes regional vision at Boao Forum
Sky's still the limit
JetBlue pilot who yelled during flight sues airline for $16M
Up Periscope... and other apps
About 4,000 fishermen stranded on Indonesian islands
Bank chief happy with rate cut
Internet outages reveal gaps in US broadband infrastructure
Tax change helps families with children under 18
2 more Galileo satellites launched from French Guiana for EU
Obama urges expansion of 'take child to work' day
California woman, friend charged in alleged baby-theft plot
Brazil's economy barely avoided recession last year
Feds table legislation for family tax package
Dow Chemical and Carnival are big market movers
Most actively traded companies on the TSX
Senate approves long-delayed bill to boost energy efficiency
Altera stock soars on report of sales talks with Intel
How the Dow Jones industrial average fared Friday
North Dakota loses lowest jobless rate as oil prices slide
RadioShack bankruptcy hearing drags on, Salus plans new bid
Audit: Maryland misallocated $28.4M for health exchange
Massachusetts governor asks for snow disaster declaration