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By Colleen Isherwood
TORONTO — When Henry Kallan, president of Library Hotel Collection, first took a helicopter ride over Toronto’s Exhibition Place, future site of Hotel X, he felt as though he were in St. Tropez. “I looked at the beach, the little islands, the moorings for boats and the Island Airport — it was spectacular.”
Right there and then, he decided that with a little money, a little fantasy and a little creativity, this truly could be a business and vacation destination.
More than five years later, Toronto’s resort hotel has risen: the last concrete form was poured in April completing the 29-storey exterior structure, and the $220-million project is taking group reservations for April, 2016.
The hotel is unusual in a number of respects. First, the developer provided $100 million in equity to put up the building. Second, there is no condo component. Third, it’s situated on nine acres of land — unheard of for a city core location. And fourth, that land is leased from the City of Toronto for 99 years.
The project has had its challenges. Archaeological requirements were substantial, costing a couple million dollars. The hotel sits on a complex of buildings that were part of the Stanley Barracks, a replacement to Fort York. Indeed, the administrative offices for Hotel X are located in the historic officers quarters. The foundations of the barracks will be exposed so that the public can view them.
And at one point, the developers had to take a couple of storeys off the hotel to accommodate an emergency airport runway.
Hotel X features 404 guestrooms and suites, ample meeting and event space, and luxurious amenities. There is a three-level rooftop, where guests can enjoy the rooftop lounge, lobby bar and two upscale restaurants, and sunbathe on the roof’s sloped green lawn.
The hotel was built to LEED silver requirements, and is estimated to use 29 per cent less energy than a building without the LEED features.
A 294-seat theatre will ensure the complex is part of Toronto’s film industry. There will also be a separate entrance for celebrities.