The developers transforming Hamilton’s nearly 100-year-old Royal Connaught Hotel into a luxury condo are hoping their project will cement the burgeoning revival of the city’s downtown core.
A handful of developments, coffee shops, vintage boutiques and pop-up restaurants had all signaled change in the area, but the historic landmark, located at the corner of King and James Streets, has remained vacant for nearly a decade. Now, as the City of Hamilton implements its Gore Park master plan in front of the property, the developers are preparing to launch phase one of their project this June.
Hamiltonians Rudi Spallacci, president of Spallacci Group, and Ted Valeri, president of Valery Homes, teamed up to tackle the complex project and make their mark on their hometown.
“This gives us an opportunity to leave a part of ourselves and help the city rejuvenate itself,” Valeri says.
“The downtown revival had started,” adds Spallacci, “so we felt it was an opportunity for us to get involved and revive an old landmark and, at the same time, bring people back in the core.”
The Edwardian hotel, built in the 1900s, was named after the Duke of Connaught, a former Governor General of Canada. It was once a magnet for movie stars, royalty and visiting dignitaries. Prolific actress Ginger Rogers was reportedly among its former guests.
The developers have preserved the 13-storey building’s original historic façade, while redoing its interior and replacing its pipes and wiring. Also on the project team are KNY Architects and interior designer Lisa Boyer.
The lobby’s Art Deco-style design conjures the roaring twenties. The three-storey space, featuring 23-foot ceilings, is outfitted with a coffee bar and baby grand piano. Black crystal chandeliers hang against a backdrop of restored white columns and limestone floors.
“A lot of work has gone into keeping its original state,” Valeri says. “It’s been expensive and time-consuming … we didn’t realize how much extra work finding these little things took, but at the end of the day, it was well worth it.”
Suites, ranging from 555 to 1,084 square feet, will feature large windows and 10-foot ceilings. Buyers will be offered a choice between standard or upgraded finish styles, including classic and contemporary options.
So far, buyer interest has cut across age groups and area codes.
“We have interest from 416 area, which is kind of a new thing, and, I think, because of the value and the property that we’re dealing with here,” Spallacci says.
The five-phase project will also add three new residential towers and a seven-storey podium to the site. The project will house 700 units, cafes and galleria shops, and more than 37,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor social space on an eighth-floor rooftop connecting the towers. Amenities will include a fitness centre, theatre and rooftop terrace with cabanas and fire pits.
The transit-friendly development is situated within walking distance of two GO stations, Hunter (existing) and James Street (planned).
Occupancies for phase one of the Residences of Royal Connaught — 122 condominium suites in the original landmark building — are slated for 2016. Suites start in the mid-$200,000s.
Michelle Ervin is the editor of CondoBusiness.