Kitchener's Walper Hotel redevelopment to start next year
Changing the lobby "a no-brainer" says developer
Physical changes to the Walper Terrace Hotel, including a redesigned lobby, are on the horizon as part of a new ownership group's redevelopment plans for the iconic brick building in downtown Kitchener.
The $4.6 million purchase of the Walper was announced earlier this week by a group including Perimeter Development Corporation, Zehr Group, David Strucke and CK Atlantis Ltd, a hotel management company.
Craig Beattie, a partner with Perimeter Development, and Don Zehr of Zehr Group appeared on The Morning Edition with Craig Norris on Friday.
While in the short term, Beattie said the plan is to get hotel operator CK Atlantis into the Walper to begin running day-to-day operations, there are big plans ahead in the long term.
"It's going to be a vision that incorporates physical changes to the hotel. The lobby is going to be a no-brainer," Beattie said, "Different marketing focus as well, branding and just a different approach to things. It's going to be all-encompassing when the plan is finalized."
The consortium will gather a design team over the next 6 to 8 months with redevelopment plans to begin next year, Beattie said.
That team will "start to master-plan the building going forward, and then start to prioritize what improvements we want to do starting sometime next year," Beattie said.
Place to be seen
Zehr recounted a conversation that he had with Perimeter Development's David Gibson about the Walper.
"'It was the place to be seen, the place to eat,'" Zehr recounted Gibson saying. "'It was a different time, different place -- but it would be very cool if you could bring back that history where people gather there.'"
"There is lots of opportunity to create an interesting bar-type environment as well," said Zehr, adding that the Barrister's Lounge upstairs could be in for a rehaul.
Zehr said that an increased focus on the development of Kitchener's core, including the Region of Waterloo's new courthouse and a growing number of technology workers at various downtown firms, makes the Walper a great choice for a rehaul.