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This article was published 25/4/2011 (2306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new redevelopment plan that would see a six- to nine-storey addition built onto the west side of the historic St. Charles Hotel instead of demolishing an adjoining historic property on Albert Street is now in the works.
Winnipeg lawyer Ken Zaifman said Monday he's been unable to strike a deal to purchase the Albert Street Business Block immediately north of the Notre Dame Avenue hotel.
So he's working on an alternative plan, which would still have to be approved by engineers and city hall. It involves expanding up rather than out, by building a multi-storey addition with underground parking on the hotel's parking lot on the west side of the property, and adding a fourth floor to the existing three-storey building to create a 98-room boutique hotel.
"I want to start developing it," he said of the 98-year-old, 54-room building, which he has been trying for more than four years to revitalize.
After several years of inactivity at the site, work crews have been hauling debris and other material out of the hotel for the last several weeks. Zaifman said they're tearing out old flooring, ceilings and walls to expose the "bones" of the building -- a process that should take another three or four weeks to complete.
He said they're doing that to make it easier for engineers to determine if another floor can be added without making significant changes to the structure.
Zaifman said he hopes to finalize the new plan and get the project underway this year. He said he's been working with the city's downtown development agency -- CentreVenture Development Corp -- and "with their help, financing should be available."
His original plan, which was first pitched to city officials more than four years ago, was met with stiff opposition from the local heritage community. It involved buying and demolishing the rundown Albert Street Business Block and replacing it with a surface parking lot for the hotel. Heritage officials objected to a parking lot on the street and to demolishing the existing buildings because they include portions of a home that is one of the city's oldest dwellings.
A compromise was struck in 2008 that called for the block to be demolished, but for the hotel's restaurant to be extended north along Albert Street in place of a parking lot.
However, Zaifman said Monday that plan involved him leasing the Albert Street land from its current owners, and financing would be difficult to obtain if he didn't own it. He said he'd still like to buy the property, but he's prepared to proceed without it.