The Royal Albert Arms Hotel in Winnipeg's Exchange District has been sold, and the new owner is considering turning thevenerable live music venue into a boutique hotel and condo complex.
Winnipeg entrepreneur Daren Jorgenson has had his eye on "the Albert" for the past three years; he owns a salon and spa next door.
He convinced the hotel's current owner to sell a few weeks ago. Jorgenson takes possession at the end of the year, and he's already making plans for the 94-year-old building,longtime home to a gritty hotel and punk music venue.
"The first thing we want to do is to rip off the front windowpaned enclosure there that really hides a lot of the historical work of the building," he said.
Jorgenson is still tossing around ideas for his redevelopment of the four-storey hotel and bar. He's dedicated to preserving the history of the building, and hopes to keep the live music element that has made the Albert famous in recent decades.
"We feel that we have the right strategies to mix functionality, professionalism, sexiness, edginess at this one location," Jorgenson said.
"If somehow it was restored a bit and made nicer, but still had that edginess to it, I think there's a whole generation of people that would love to go back and enjoy what they enjoyed 20 years ago."
About three dozen permanent residents of thehotel will have to move out by the end of the year. Jorgenson expects many will follow the Albert's current owner to another downtown hotel.
The building's new owner describes his investment in the Royal Albert Armsas "substantial." He believes it's well worth it, adding he expects the Exchange District will flourish in the next decade.