The 138-year-old Winnipeg Hotel is officially closing its doors this weekend, but its life isn't over yet.
The hotel at 214 Main St. opened in 1881. It was purchased three years ago by a holding company fronted by John Pollard, co-chief executive officer of Pollard Banknote Ltd, along with the recently redeveloped Fortune Building next door on the corner of Main and St. Mary Avenue.
"The previous owner is closing operations this weekend, and it'll be closed for the time being," Pollard told the Free Press on Friday. The holding company hopes to refurbish the building and redevelop it into a boutique hotel, he said.
According to the Manitoba Historical Society, the three-storey building was constructed by Oswald and Thomas Montgomery, a pair of developers who are the eponyms of the Montgomery Block at the intersection of Portage and Notre Dame avenues.
Pollard said his group had always planned to take possession of the Winnipeg Hotel on a delayed basis, allowing the owner to keep operating while the Fortune Building renovations were ongoing. Those renovations were completed this summer, he said.
The new owners will take stock of the hotel when they take possession Monday. That work includes a structural assessment and general assessments, in order to see what is salvageable and to direct future redevelopment.
"It'll take us a while to figure out exactly how to proceed," Pollard said, but anticipated it could take as long as three years to complete the renovations on the Winnipeg Hotel. His group wants to keep the same name, he said.
As for the empty lot which sits between the Fortune Building and Winnipeg Hotel, Pollard said he envisions the development of a public plaza.
The holding group is entirely separate from Pollard Banknote, and all plans are subject to the group receiving all necessary approvals from the City of Winnipeg.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.