Cecil hotel news

Status of new or continuing risks to heritage sites

Moderator: newsposter

Cecil hotel news

Postby newsposter » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:29 am

Updated October 12 - see bottom posts on the final page of this thread.


Metro reports that the City is negotiating for the purchase of the Cecil Hotel on 4th Avenue and 3rd Street SE, across from the Drop-In Centre, probably for subsidized housing... Here is the story:

The Cecil was built in 1911 and is a Category B heritage site. Let's hope someone takes the blue paint off it and restores the exterior to a more original look. If anyone has a historic photo, please post!

Metro photo
Last edited by newsposter on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:11 am, edited 11 times in total.
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby McMahon » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:31 pm

The only one I could find was this small photo by Alison Jackson at the Calgary Public Library site. I believe it's from the 60s/70s.

Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:38 am

Postby newsposter » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:52 am

See photos above ^
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... f51268&p=1

Save the Cecil Hotel
Preserve the historical building, but turf the tavern
Calgary Herald Editorial

Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The city's attempt to purchase the rundown Cecil Hotel looks like a good opportunity to save affordable housing units and preserve a historical building.

It's unclear, though, whether aldermen will do either.

Officials confirmed they're in the early stages of negotiating a purchase with owner Sam Silverman, but haven't disclosed what the site will be used for. Nor have they settled on a selling price.

The question is why is the municipality negotiating so openly?

Who can blame Silverman for reportedly turning down several offers and holding out for a better price? He should.

The problem lies with the city for expressing its interest publicly. Government interest is a sure way to guarantee taxpayers will pay an inflated price.

The municipal government should take a lesson from British Columbia, which last year quietly purchased 15 old, rundown hotels, including 10 in Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside. With just $80 million, B.C. created 996 new units by renovating the buildings it picked up at market rate, thanks to a numbered company and a real estate group.

Calgary's intention for the Cecil isn't quite so obvious. Ald. Andre Chabot believes it should be purchased, demolished and the land used as incentive to redevelop the area through the city's Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

Ald. Bob Hawkesworth has a better idea. He wants the city to go in, rid the Cecil of its notorious drugs and crime problems, and turn the building into affordable housing, at least for the short term.

Hawkesworth points to the York Hotel, purchased by the city in 1993 and successfully converted into 130 permanent apartments for the city's homeless. Back then, the city was better at keeping negotiations quiet, paying a "very secret multi-million dollar price tag for the takeover," according to a Calgary Herald column at the time.

Even at the undisclosed price, converting the hotel was more economical than the cost of building new apartments, which in 1992 still rang in at $70,000 per unit.

Under no circumstances should the Cecil be demolished.

Built in 1911, it's listed on the city's inventory of potential heritage sites worth preserving, so preserve it we must. It's disconcerting that council is even discussing the possibility of doing anything less.

Certainly, the way the Cecil operates today presents obstacles in attempts to gentrify the area. A walk past quickly paints the picture of a place where only the neediest and most desperate of guests would go, those who have no other choice. Crack cocaine, alcohol, fisticuffs, pimps and prostitutes all appear to be the norm.

Tearing down the hotel won't solve these problems, but will only push them elsewhere. In the process, 58 rooms for vulnerable, low-income residents will be lost, about 12 long-term residents who are mainly older folks will be on the streets and the Drop-In Centre next door will be undermined.

There are endless possibilities for a restored Cecil that would preserve a historic building while meeting any number of legitimate needs.

The city could incorporate some of the plans for the site proposed by the Drop-In Centre, which also put in an offer, but was rejected. The shelter wanted to put in retail services such as a grocery store, a clinic, banking for low-income earners and a day care -- services to help its clientele instead of the Cecil's watering hole and liquor store that tempts them back into drunkenness.

On the upstairs levels, office space could be created to ease some of the shortage at City Hall, which is moaning about running out of room. Why not relocate the social services and resources people to the front line, so they can experience first hand the problems they are helping address?

Alternatively, the city could convert the Cecil into clean and safe subsidized housing units, making room for everyone in the East Village plans. Mixing up housing choices in this way both eliminates the blight of crime and other questionable activities at the hotel, while improving the lives of residents by offering them a safe, clean place to live.

That's a workable blueprint the city could implement as it attempts to rebuild this downtrodden neighbourhood.

© The Calgary Herald 2008
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby neilw » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:46 pm

I don't see much character in the old Cecil hotel. It's right beside the homeless place that is crawling with folks that are not very desireable. I'd say rip ir down.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:25 pm
Location: Calgary

Postby Chris E » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:10 pm

Much of the old character has been covered up in the past 50? yrs, here's a earlier pic:


Also I believe the calgary "10 Year Plan to End Homelessness" would end up with the homeless shelter next door to be converted into offices, or at least something other than it's current use. The area is undesirable, however in the past 20 or 30 yrs some of the most pawn shop and porn store infested areas were Stephen Ave and Inglewoods 9th avenue... both of those areas have now been cleaned up and are jewels of the city.. uses of areas and the people who populate them change over time, but a demolished piece of history is gone forever... and lastly, if it was torn down, it would likely be replaced with a parking lot which would be occupied by the same people who used to go to the Cecil... in my humble opinion of course :)
Chris E
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Calgary

Postby newsposter » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:51 pm

The Cecil's walls can talk -- if only council would listen
The heritage value of the hotel seems to elude city hall

Paula Arab, Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just when I thought Calgary might finally be drawing itself onto the architectural map, council reaches for the eraser. According to Ald. Gord Low, many aldermen want the city to purchase the historic Cecil Hotel, only to subject it to the wrecking ball...

Full column: http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/col ... 26793823ca


Cecil Hotel has a role to play in the East Village
Calgary Herald

Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Re: "Save the Cecil Hotel," Editorial, Aug. 20.

As a member of the Calgary Heritage Authority, I would like to express my concerns about the Cecil Hotel's future. Built in 1911, the Cecil, under its facade, is a brick and sandstone gem with an original design that features street level windows on both the street and the avenue. It is a Category B building under the new CHA evaluation guidelines, is structurally sound under the current less-than-acceptable additions, and is deemed worthy of saving. Restored to its former handsome condition, it could play a major role in the East Village's revitalization.

The Cecil was built to house travellers and workingmen in 1911 and the Cecil Cafe operated as a friendly meeting place for many years. From 1938 to 1967, it was owned by A. E. Cross's Calgary Brewing & Malting Company. Its location near the refurbished Simmons Mattress Factory (a Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Award winner), Fort Calgary, the river promenade and new developments would argue for alternative uses. Perhaps the city's own departments could use a space within walking distance of City Hall, rather than relocating to Southport. Surely, the recent loss of the Curtis Block and Penny Lane have alerted us to the fact we are still losing heritage buildings. We must save whatever we have left and incorporate them into existing streetscapes if we intend to honour heritage as do other world-class cities.

Donna Bloomfield,

Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby Chris E » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:52 pm

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 6f73e1eead

City turns up heat on Cecil Hotel
Site will be expropriated if talks fail

Kim Guttormson
Calgary Herald
Monday, September 15, 2008

The city is prepared to expropriate the rundown Cecil Hotel if it can't reach a deal to purchase the valuable downtown property from its owner.

Sitting near the northwest corner of the East Village, the site is considered strategic and the city has a "municipal use" lined up for the location.

"We look at a number of key strategic parcels that are required for municipal purposes -- everything from parks and playgrounds to roads and parkades," Mayor Dave Bronconnier told the Herald.

Last month, city officials confirmed a bid had been put in for the Cecil Hotel, noting negotiations were ongoing with Sam Silberman to determine a selling price.

Acquisition co-ordinator Donna Brown said the city and Silberman were having the property appraised.

"As soon as the appraisal is done, we'll send out another offer," Brown said Friday, adding an initial offer was rejected. "Hopefully we can negotiate a deal.

"If not, we will go forward to expropriation."

Brown said the city hopes to know by the end of the year how it will proceed. However, the city's plans for the site at the corner of 4th Avenue and 3rd Street S.E. aren't being disclosed.

Chris Ollenberger, president of the Calgary Municipal Land Corp., the independent developer created by city hall to oversee East Village redevelopment, said there are a number of structures that would make sense -- including a parkade.

"I can see a parkade working there quite well, there is a jam in the area," he said, explaining he doesn't know what the city has in mind.

As part of the Bow Valley College redevelopment, an aging city-owned parking structure on 3rd Street S.E. is being torn down.

"What (the site) is currently being used for needs to change," Ollenberger said. "Whether the building stays or goes, it's really the use that's a problem.

"We do need to find a new use for the site that'll be more compatible for the intended long-term future."

Built in 1912, the Cecil Hotel for many years provided lodging for the labourers who arrived at the train station in the East Village.

These days, however, the hotel is associated with the homeless, fights, drug deals and prostitution. Critics view the Cecil as having a negative effect on the East Village, which the city is attempting to transform into a desirable inner-city community.

The now-closed Beer Land building, which also belongs to the owners of the Cecil Hotel, would be a part of any deal.

The site is next to the Calgary Drop-in Centre.

Beer Land, a liquor store on the site, closed earlier this year.


- - -

Cecil Hotel
Built in 1912 by C.J. Cote and H.P. Bell, the three-storey brick-veneer hotel featured 57 rooms and a dining room with seating for 50, providing economical accommodation for the working man.
In its early years, it housed a blacksmith shop, a stable and a grocery store. After Prohibition, the tavern expanded to almost the entire ground floor.
In 1968, Leo Silberman along with a partner Saul Rosenbaum bought the hotel. Silberman's family continues to own and operate the hotel to this day.
In 2002, the hotel marked its 90th anniversary.
"It's always been a blue-collar hotel, it always will be. Everyone in here is equal."
Owner: Sam Silberman.

Source: Herald Archives

© The Calgary Herald 2008
Chris E
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Calgary

Postby newsposter » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:54 pm

another view,

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 43cf7c488d

If the city wants the Cecil they should buy it, not take it
Danielle Smith, For The Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Recent comments about the city's plans for the Cecil Hotel should be setting off alarm bells for members of council.

Last week it was reported that the city is in talks to purchase the Cecil Hotel, which sits on the corner of 4th Avenue and 3rd Street S.E. There has already been a spirited defence to keep it standing, on the grounds that it is one of the few buildings approaching a century in age and provides some much-needed character in the downtown core. Others argue the Cecil Hotel has altogether too much character, with its clientele of blue-collar workers and lodgings for the low-income residents.

It is understandable that the city might want to buy it, to change the use to something more fitting with their vision for the new East Village development. However, the debate took an alarming turn last week. It was reported that the owner rejected the city's initial offer. What ought to raise eyebrows are the comments of acquisition co-ordinator Donna Brown, who told the Herald, "Hopefully we can negotiate a deal. If not, we will go forward to expropriation."

... full story at the link:

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 43cf7c488d
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby Admin » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:24 pm

Cecil owners near deal
UPDATED: 2008-10-19 02:07:23 MST


The owner of the Cecil Hotel has reportedly come to a tentative agreement to sell the landmark building to the city to make way for affordable housing, as part of an East Village Redevelopment plan.

Calgary Drop-In Centre executive director Dermot Baldwin said, while the city has been in talks with Cecil owner Sam Silverman, his organization has also been involved in negotiations and had an offer to buy the hotel on the table, with similar plans of bulldozing it in favour of affordable housing...."

Full story http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Alberta/200 ... 1-sun.html


Note that the Cecil is on the city's heritage inventory, and their new heritage plan dictates that the city is to not only preserve, but *designate* all heritage properties they own.
Site Admin
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 9:00 pm

Postby newsposter » Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:29 pm

City and Cecil Hotel reach a tentative purchase agreement
Updated: Mon Oct. 20 2008 17:22:36


The City has reached a tentative agreement to buy the Cecil Hotel and turn it into a parkade.

Earlier this year, a complaint to police prompted a review of the hotel's licence.

The area has become a notorious hotspot for crime both inside and outside of the hotel.

Last month alone, there were nearly 2-hundred calls to police to go to the Cecil Hotel.

Neighbouring business owners have said getting rid of the hotel would help eliminate problems in the area.

On Monday, the City and the Cecil Hotel reached a tentative deal.

That agreement will go to the City's Land Committee in mid-November.

The deal will then need to be approved by City Council.

If everything goes as planned, everything should be finalized by December 15th.

The Cecil Hotel's current licence expires December 31st.

More Cecil:

http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/ ... algaryHome

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... e71c201084
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby newsposter » Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:24 am

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 78324e1ce8


City nearing deal to buy Cecil
Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, December 09, 2008
T he City of Calgary has reached a tentative deal to buy the notorious Cecil Hotel, sources said Monday.

City staff will present the multimillion-dollar proposal to a civic committee today, the first step in a process that could see the city take over the downtown property that has attracted scrutiny as a hot spot for crime.

The tentative deal reached with Sam Silberman, the owner of the hotel and tavern, would still have to be approved by the committee and council. It is expected to go to city council Monday...

...Ald. Druh Farrell also declined to discuss any talks with Silberman or the specifics of a deal, but said a sale of the property to the city would be a "great benefit" to the area.

"The existing operations of the Cecil have been very detrimental to the city," she said, adding police visited the site 1,700 times last year.

Farrell hopes that if the city buys the property, it will replace the hotel with a mixed-use development that includes retail space.

"It's a signature site and it needs a signature building," she said.

Built in 1912, the Cecil Hotel for many years provided lodging for labourers who arrived at the train station in the East Village...
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby newsposter » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:45 pm

Cecil Hotel Tavern Ordered To Close Immediately
CHQR Newsroom

Calgary's notorious Cecil Hotel has had it's business license revoked, and has been ordered to close its tavern immediately.
This affects the tavern only, and not the hotel portion.
The city's licensing department says it's been deemed the tavern affects the safety of the public to a high risk.
The owner can appeal the order within 30 days.
Several days of closed door hearings on the license for the tavern were held at city hall in the past month.
The decision to order the tavern to shut its doors comes on the same day the city's Land and Asset Strategy Committee in a closed-door meeting approved a tentative deal to have the city buy the hotel.
City council is expected to debate that issue on Monday.
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby Chris E » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:14 am

Commentary on the Cecil 1/2 way through the article

http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Columnists/ ... 03481.html

King Eddy a surprising survivor

Dump of a blue-collar hotel pales in comparison to historic structures lost to the bulldozer


A Pyrrhic victory indeed--a little like rescuing a dog-eared copy of Green Eggs and Ham from a bonfire of rare first editions.

Still, it's a victory.

This coming Wednesday, aldermen will vote to grant the rare distinction of Municipal Historic Resource upon what might be the least deserving historical landmark in Calgary history -- the cesspit known as the King Edward Hotel.

There'll no doubt be a ceremony and a little plaque proclaiming the 103-year-old flop house a gem among buildings.

Whether they'll dig up the old stripper's pole from the back room and have it bronzed remains to be seen -- hopefully, the red terry-cloth table coverings will be preserved for posterity.

Those who are aware the King Eddy is still standing only because it's in a seedy area of town, where no one else wanted to build, will understand what an irony this "honour" is.

Here is a cockroach-infested, architecturally insignificant dump of a blue-collar hotel, being handed a designation denied to Calgary buildings that were the Taj Mahal in comparison.

We've lost sandstone palaces, gorgeous brick schools and apartments and entire streets of character filled shops (rest in peace Penny Lane, Curtis Block and Mount Royal Block), along with countless hotels.

Gone are other inns far more deserving of the designation: The Arlington, Royal, King George, Imperial and York, all demolished.

On the very spot where aldermen will declare the King Edward an historic resource once stood the Empire and Grand, the latter an especially striking structure, with its sloped front.

The Municipal Building portion of city hall, along with Olympic Plaza, was built over the ruins of entire city blocks brushed aside in the name of progress.

Lost were dozens of buildings more interesting and worthy than the plain-jane Eddy. Still.

It's a victory, and as such, those who value history will take it.

Once facing the wrecking ball itself, the Eddy's new status is part of a plan to transform the hotel into a new home for the Cantos Music Foundation, a group that preserves real historical treasures, in the form of musical instruments.

Some might even express hope the short-sighted, bulldozer-minded mentality that's caused so much damage in the past might at last be part of Calgary's history.

To those people, I say this: Don't hold your breath.

Even the Municipal Historic Resource designation the King Edward will soon enjoy is nothing more than words, with barely any legal strength.

There's no way to stop a building owner from reducing a municipal heritage building to dust, unless the city pays astronomical compensation fees to keep the structure standing.

It's why so few of the hundreds of buildings listed as potential heritage sites actually become heritage sites, because it would cost the city too much to actually protect them.

As far as a change in mentality when it comes to preserving the past, one only has to look a few blocks north to realize developers and aldermen alike won't let history stand in the way of a new development.

The Cecil Hotel, a run-down den of drug deals and despair, is already set to be demolished, even before city hall concludes a deal to buy it.

But underneath the shabby blue exterior is a treasure made of sandstone and brick, dating back to 1911, when the Cecil made the Eddy look like the basic, boring box it was.

Google the Cecil Hotel, and you'll find old photographs showing a handsome building with grand balconies and windows galore -- the kind of structure that would be a visual landmark in a revitalised East Village.

In fact, the Cecil is in better shape than the Eddy, which contains mould and all manner of vermin following years of neglect .

Restored to pristine condition, the Eddy will remain a plain, no-frills hotel built for working men needing a cheap place to stay, much like any highway motel now.

The Eddy was on "Whisky Row," a source of cheap drink for early Calgarians, and near the red light district of the East Village -- it was built in a hurry, and never expected to last into its second decade, never mind century.

The Cecil, on the other hand, was no luxury hotel, but it was stars above the Eddy -- it was clean, quiet, and interesting to look at.

It still is interesting, under all that ugly paint and stucco.

The Eddy is worth keeping as an historic survivor, but if any East Village hotel deserves Municipal Historic Resource designation, it's the Cecil.
Chris E
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Calgary

Postby newsposter » Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:14 am

Fellow CHI members and friends,

City Council is debating the purchase of the Cecil Hotel on Monday December 15. The Cecil, built in 1911, is on the City of Calgary’s inventory of historic resources, but this does not mean it is protected from demolition. It has been reported that some on City Council would like to purchase the building only to demolish it because of the problems created by its current operation.

The Calgary Heritage Strategy, passed by City Council earlier this year (2008), specifically calls on the City to preserve heritage buildings that it owns. A key policy (on page 37) is that the City will “serve as a role model for the creative use and adaptive re-use of City-owned heritage buildings and excellence in maintenance and restoration.” Purchasing a historic resource such as the Cecil only to demolish it would be contrary to this policy.

If you are concerned about the Cecil, or the integrity of the Calgary Heritage Strategy, consider contacting Aldermen and the Mayor prior to December 15. You may want to write the newspapers and spread the word to your friends. If the City purchases the Cecil it should abide by The Calgary Heritage Strategy which it adopted only a few months ago and pursue preservation. Restored to a better condition, with responsible ownership, there are many good uses that the historic Cecil could serve.

Here is a link to contact information for City Council:
http://calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/viewto ... =1472#1472

Here is a link to the CHI forum thread on the Cecil, including news articles, some history of the building and a historic photo:
http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... =1378#1378

Here is a link to the Calgary Heritage Strategy. The section on City-Owned Historic Resources begins on page 37:
http://www.calgary.ca/DocGallery/bu/pla ... rategy.pdf

- The Development Watch Team, Calgary Heritage Initiative Society
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

Postby newsposter » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:21 am

More news of the Cecil - December 12. The Sun reports a $10 million pricetag and that "If the deal moves forward, plans for the site would likely include a parkade and a mixed-use development with both residential and commercial facilities" - presumably after demolition of the historic building. Here is the full story:

http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Alberta/200 ... 1-sun.html
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am


Return to Heritage Watch

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests