Morguard evaluating options for National Hotel building

Mark
Mark Brownlee
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The owner of a soon-to-be-shuttered downtown hotel is planning to pour millions of dollars into renovating the building but isn’t willing to commit to re-opening the space as a lodging facility.

The National Hotel & Suites is located at 361 Queen St.

Morguard Properties announced last month plans to permanently close the National Hotel & Suites at the end of December so it could renovate and reposition the property.

Bernie Myers, the vice-president of Morguard for the region, declined to specify exactly how much the company planned to spend but said it would be somewhere between $10 million and $20 million.

However, the building won’t necessarily re-open as a hotel. Morguard is leaning towards continuing to use the space for that purpose but is evaluating what other purposes it could serve, said Mr. Myers.

“We’re looking at all options, all scenarios at this stage,” he said. “Clearly the building certainly was built and has served well as a hotel.”

But, he added, “we would not be doing the right thing to our investors who own the building to (not) say, ‘Well, wait a second, what now is the highest and best use and if we are going to make a large capital investment in the project – which we are going to do – how should we do that for optimum results?’”

The hotel, located at 361 Queen St., dropped its Delta branding last year and has since been operating independently.

Mr. Myers said the company does not have any leads on a new affiliation for the building should it be re-opened as a hotel.

He declined to go into detail about the exact changes the company would be able to make for the money it is planning to invest.

All he would say was that “you get a lot more than carpet and drapes for $10- to $20 million” and that the facility will have the “latest and greatest” in amenities when it re-opens.

He said the company decided to close the hotel because it was built in the mid-’70s. He felt the substantial renovation it needed could not be completed while the hotel continued to operate.

Morguard plans to have the renovations completed in nine to 12 months, he said. He anticipated the building will re-open sometime in 2015.

The National is the ninth-largest hotel in Ottawa by number of guest rooms, according to OBJ research. It has 328 rooms and employs about 250 people.

Organizations: Morguard, National Hotel Suites

Geographic location: Ottawa

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  • Peter Quinlan
    December 19, 2013 - 22:48

    Nonsense. They are not "evaluating their options" at all. This complex was built back in the mid 70's as a condo/hotel/office building. I highly doubt Morguard have any intentions on turning this into another condo development-especially since most of the rooms are around 300 square feet! It will be renovated & reopened as a hotel--the key question being who will operate it? If they are serious about attracting a 5-star hotel here (Trump, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental etc.) then they will likely have to spend much, much more than $10-15 million. The Delta reno across the street went way over budget because of the removal of the ramp & other issues. No doubt the same will hold true for this property, once they get into it. Mr. Myers is simply trying to send out feelers in hope of a response. It will be interesting to see what happens by this time next year. (I'm betting it will take much longer than 1 year & cost double.)