February 3, 2006
Connaught comes back with $26.5M reno
Chicago gangster Al Capone and Pierre Elliott Trudeau had something in common. They both stayed at downtown Hamilton’s once-grand Royal Connaught Hotel now undergoing a $26.5 million transformation into a boutique hotel and condominium residence.
Down on its heels, the 11-storey Edwardian hotel will see better days when the redevelopment, which includes a 135-room Renaissance Marriott Hotel on the first seven floors, is completed in the summer of 2007. The top four floors will feature about 45 luxury condominiums.
Just under way is the interior demolition of the 260,000-square-foot building. It includes asbestos abatement and removal of interior walls and electrical/mechanical systems.
“The biggest challenge for us is to preserve many of the fine historic features such as coffered ceilings and ornate plaster work while doing the demolition,” says project manager Errol Dube, of Vanbots Construction Corporation, construction managers of the project. Special attention will be paid to the 4,500-square-foot ballroom with 30-foot ceilings, the historic main lobby and mezzanine which are “spectacular historic settings.”
Dube says as with any sensitive redevelopment of a historic building, there are unknown obstacles facing the contractor. “We have to wait and see the demolished product before we can carry on with design.”
The project also includes new elevator shafts and bringing the existing ones up to code. New features include a swimming pool and underground parkade.
The project is an architectural design by Cannon Design Inc. Owner is Royal Connaught Redevelopment Group Inc. Structural/electrical/mechanical engineering consultant is Vanderwesten & Rutherford Associates, Inc.
Dube says Vanbots expects to tender structural, electrical, mechanical and drywall contracts in late February or early March.
During demolition, Dube found a book on the history of the hotel that includes stories of mob boss Capone staying in the penthouse suite of the hotel when he was on the run from the law in the United States.
“When Trudeau was in town he always had the same suite. It was his and nobody else’s.”
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