Wednesday, April 15, 2009

330 Kennedy Street - Hotel Royal Plaza

The Downtowner - be continued.
Project: Hotel Royal Plaza
Address: 330 Kennedy Street (Map)
Architect: Pratt and Lindgren
Contractor: Bird Construction
Opened: July 22, 1959

August 1, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press

The Downtowner Motor Hotel, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Alex Dugalle, opened for business on July 22,1959. Mayor Juba and the deputy minister of industry cut the ribbon at the official opening a week later.

The three-storey, 40-room hotel was constructed so that two more floors could be added, but never were.

February 3, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

To compete with downtown's traditional hotels, many in old buildings with small rooms and no on-site parking, the Downtowner offered bright rooms with large windows and
air conditioning. An outdoor courtyard allowed people easy access to the forty, free parking stalls, some of which were located underneath an elevated portion of the hotel.

In 1960, Toronto-based celebrity chef Hans Fread, (a national columnist with two CJAY TV shows), made the restaurant a destination when he opened his Four Seasons restaurant. Fread was wooed back to Toronto the following year to open a new restaurant there.

In 1963, Gordon Hotels took over the Downtowner as the sixth property in their chain.

Under Gordon, the bar and lounge area became a bigger feature. The area around Kennedy and Ellice was home to a number of the city's better known night spots and dinner clubs until the 1980s when all but the Downtowner were demolished for the Portage Place / Place Promenade development.

Through the 1980s and 1990s the reputation of the hotel suffered due to crime in the area and in the early 2000s Gordon Hotels dropped it from their chain.

The Downtowner - during
The Downtowner - during
In 2007, the hotel was again put up for sale.

It was purchased by the Forks North Portage Partnership which
partnered with Ivey House Hostel, a 40-bed facility that had operated since 1980 from an historic house on Maryland Street to redevelop it. FNP leased the property to the hostel for 50 years, though it had to raise the $2 to $3 million to renovate the building.

In late 2007 renovations began.

The main floor was redeveloped, which included filling in the parking area located underneath the elevated second floor
to make way for a common space and kitchen area. In the bar, the beer vendor and VLT's were removed and the space converted into LO Pub, which cater to university students and the indie music crowd.

The hostel's ownership had trouble raising the necessary funds to renovate the building, business was slower than expected, and it and it suffered from poor reviews.

In July 2012, Forks North portage Property announced that the building was being put up for sale. The hostel closed soon after and
LO Pub closed on August 25, 2012.,+Winnipeg,+MB+R3B+3A4/@49.8938931,-97.1494353,3a,75y,196.21h,88.5t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sJRiTrgemVNBEkHoQjQ12ew!2e0!5s20170701T000000!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x52ea73e28aa89be1:0xd92d69f386d27b7f!8m2!3d49.8935494!4d-97.1495377
In 2013, it was purchased by the Nagpal family, owners of India Palace Restaurant. It now operates as the Hotel Royal Plaza.

Downtown hostel being sold Free Press, July 2012
Winnipeg Downtown hotel being sold CBC, July 2012

 New Hostel Gives Downtown New Character Free Press, May 2008

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