City still has no plans for old Cecil Hotel (with video): Site acquired in 2009 but now used for storage
By Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald
October 21, 2012
CALGARY — Years after a crime-ridden downtown tavern was shuttered, the city-owned Cecil Hotel continues to languish with no immediate plans for demolition or redevelopment.
When the city purchased the site for $10.9 million in 2009, there was talk of tearing down the worn-down building in favour of parking or condos as part of East Village revitalization.
With peeling paint and boarded up windows, the dingy site is now being used as a convenient construction hub for the city’s 7th Avenue LRT project.
But area residents and businesses say the homely hotel needs to go.
“It’s a bad first impression of the city — something needs to be done,” said Lance Hurtubise, who runs Bookers BBQ Grill & Crab Shack across the way on 4th Avenue and 3rd Street S.E.
“It’s brutal. It looks like an eyesore. It’s really the gateway to downtown for people coming straight from the airport.”
The city yanked the notorious tavern’s business licence in 2008 after officials became fed up with high crime rates, including a fatal stabbing and open drug transactions inside the bar. Police officials said they responded to 1,700 there calls a year.
For now, city officials say there are no solid plans for the hotel site’s future.
“It’s being used as a storage grounds for construction materials and equipment relating to the 7th Avenue work being done on the train line,” said Sean Somers from the city’s transportation department, which has stewardship of the hotel’s property.
As that wraps up over the course of the next few months, Somers said they “don’t really know” what the future holds for the site.
“The long story short is that we don’t really know what that’s going to look like going ahead,” said Somers.
“At this point the future is undetermined.”
For condominium residents inside Pointe of View, which overlooks the boarded up hotel, the vacant spot doesn’t exactly add curb appeal.
“They can tear down a hospital, I’m sure they can tear down a shack,” said Nabila Al-Yafi, adding she’s holding out hope the city will demolish the vacant hotel after LRT construction is finished.
The Cecil Hotel was built in 1912 to cater to labourers.
The hotel’s heritage value is considered minimal due to a fire in 1982 that destroyed its historical significance.
With future East Village plans now in the works, the area’s alderman says redevelopment will happen but it’s a waiting game.
“We’re still determining what to do with it,” said Ward 7 Ald. Druh Farrell.
“I think people are relieved it’s not occupied anymore. It’s all part of the East Village plan and that’s a long-term strategy. Now that we’ve secured the site there will be a good time. It’s not now. The time will be right when we look at redevelopment. It’s one step at a time with the East Village.”
There has been some interest in the nearby Calgary police union lot, she said.
The waiting game will pay off, said Calgary Downtown Association president Maggie Schofield.
“We’d sure like to see something happen with it, some sort of revitalization,” Schofield said. “We hope when the East Village develops that will be one of the pieces that develops with it.”
For now, with construction activity behind the hotel, the area is in good hands, she added.
“If it was just a building standing completely alone and there was nothing going on around it, I’d be quite concerned. But there is a lot of foot traffic. It hasn’t been a concern,” she said.
“It’s not that bad in the grand scheme of things.”
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