When traveling out of town, whether it’s for business or leisure, everyone needs a place to crash. The rise in popularity of short-term rentals might have taken a bite out of the age-old hospitality industry, but hotels and motels were — and still are in many cases — the go-to temporary home for summer vacations, weekend getaways and your cousin’s destination wedding.
A slew of local Toronto hotels are finding a second life in the form of condominiums. Here’s a quick list of nostalgia-worthy hotels and motels across the city that are set to become new construction projects.
1. Filmores Hotel
On the eastern edge of the Garden District, Filmores Hotel has occupied the flatiron-style, red-brick building on the corner of George and Dundas Street East for the last 40 years. Doubling as a budget-friendly hotel and a gentlemen’s club on the lower floors, Filmores Hotel has recently been a subject of interest for redevelopment.
In late January, Menkes Development bought the Filmores property and adjacent parking lot for a combined total of $51.5 million. Shortly thereafter, a preliminary rendering of a proposed mixed-use project was released, depicting a high-rise tower that would meld with the original Filmores building and signage. The club has publicly stated on social media that it plans to stay at its current location for “at least a couple more” years.
2. Beach Motel
The western stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard was once home to a family of small-scale motels, a region otherwise known as the Lakeshore Motel Strip. This cluster of roadside hotels reached their height of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to summer vacationers and roadtrippers, before business started to decline in the area throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Among these roadside stops was the 40-room Beach Motel, one of the last motels to be demolished in November 2012, torn down to make way for one of the biggest waterfront condo developments in the area. Eau Du Soleil, built by Empire Communities, will house 1,285 residential units across two towers when it reaches completion this year.
3. Chelsea Hotel
Located in the heart of downtown at Yonge and Gerrard Street West, the Chelsea Hotel is one of the country’s largest hotels, catering 1,590 rooms. The Chelsea is also one of the few places in the city that you’ll find an indoor waterslide, offering a 130-foot corkscrew slide in the family pool zone.
Great Eagle Holdings has proposed revamping the hotel into a building, 1,670-unit residential complex, known as Chelsea Green Condos. Designed by architectsAlliance and WZMH Architects, Chelsea Green Condos would showcase modern architecture alongside contemporary landscaping and glass podiums.
3. The Palace Arms
Photo: Google Maps
First opened in the 1890s, The Palace Arms has served many purposes over the years in Toronto’s West end. At Strachan Avenue and King Street West, the turreted castle evolved from a tavern to a rooming house for men.
Intentional Capital has pitched redeveloping the building into a 16-storey new construction project with 217 residential units. The architectural redesign, created by Sweeny & Co, would keep the Romanesque facade as a podium on the lower floors, adding a sail-shaped portion on top.
5. Valhalla Inn
Once a motor inn off of Highway 427 in Etobicoke, the Valhalla Inn now serves as the grounds for a mixed-use, master-planned community in Eatonville. Built in the 1960s, the Valhalla Inn was inspired by Scandinavian design and folklore. Notable attractions of the inn included a Nordic dining lounge, influenced by Viking longhouses, and the Mermaid Bar in the basement, which touted underwater views of the pool.
The site now belongs to Valhalla Town Square, a 6.6-acre residential complex with mid- and high-rise condo buildings, an amenity terrace and landscaped courtyard.