Cecil Hotel slated for demolition
Despite high hopes of honouring the Cecil Hotel’s historical significance and incorporating the landmark building into the fabric of the newly revitalized East Village, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has decided to demolish the hotel based on the findings of two new due diligence investigations.
In the meantime, CMLC is working to remove from the building any salvageable elements with historical value. “The most important of these,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president and CEO, “is the Cecil Hotel’s large neon scaffold sign. Later this week CMLC, and contractor Neon Sales and Service of Calgary, will remove the old sign; it will be restored to its original colours and condition and then placed into storage until such time as a community use can be identified.”
Brown adds, “We are fully aware that some Calgarians were hoping the Cecil could somehow be saved, as it’s one of only six pre-First World War hotels still standing in Calgary. But following decades of neglect plus the ravages of fire and flood, rehabilitation and restoration simply aren’t feasible options. We will apply for a demolition permit this fall after an abatement program has been completed on the building and all hazardous materials have been properly removed.”
A 1982 blaze that engulfed the top floor of the Cecil Hotel diminished much of its historical value, while the floodwaters that ravaged Calgary in June 2013 took a heavy toll on the building’s structural integrity. The building is infested with mould and continues to take on water from a damaged roof top.
In May 2015, Williams Engineering Canada conducted a structural condition assessment and deemed the Cecil to be in poor condition due to foundation settlement, deteriorated shoring beams, missing shoring posts, corroded steel structural elements, unsupported timber beams and numerous other issues. This builds on a 2009 structural condition assessment by Stantec that identified moisture penetration into the foundation and timber support columns, split and deteriorated beams, rotten floor areas and deteriorating exterior brickwork.
Meanwhile, a heritage assessment completed by Donald Luxton Associates earlier this month found that “very little of the building is intact and in good enough condition to save in its entirety.” According to the report, the Cecil’s only salvageable elements include the building’s neon sign, tin roof cornice, north and west masonry façade, and a number of cast-iron radiators, bathtubs and sinks.
Earlier this year, CMLC negotiated the purchase of the Cecil Hotel site and has early plans to use the land for a mixed-use project to complement the overall master plan vision for East Village. At 43,000 square feet the land parcel is considered a prime development opportunity which can yield approximately 260,000 square feet of new development. Next year, CMLC will seek a developer to purchase the site at the corner of 4th Avenue and 3rd Street SE.