Calgary

The bar where Klein launched his political career also retires

The St. Louis Hotel, one of Calgary's favourite watering holes, is about to dry up.

The St. Louis Hotel, one of Calgary's favourite watering holes, is about to dry up.

The City of Calgary has agreed to buy the hotel, which has been a fixture in downtown Calgary for nearly100 years.

Co-owner Morris Blitt said he offered to sell because he couldn't take it any more.

"Way too many drugs, and the drug dealers. Well, it was always the wrong side of the tracks. It never bothered me, it was fun to come to work. But to see the misery— it's hard to watch every day."

One of the hotel's most famous clients is Premier Ralph Klein. He says he'll miss the people and the place.

"I started my political career there, at the St. Louis. That's where, after some beers, I decided to run," he recalled.

As the premier is getting ready to retire, so is the St. Louis.

"I also think the timing is pretty fitting, I think. The Louis and Ralph retiring at the same time is probably a good thing," said Blitt.

'Part of the solution'

Once the deal is done, the St. Louis Hotel will become part of theredevelopment of the East Village area.

Brad Stevens, a spokesman for the city, says it's highly unlikely the building will be demolished.

"I think we would want to make every effort possible to keep that part of the heritage integrated into some type of the project that is left there at the end of the day."

Blitt won't say how much the city paid for the hotel, but he says selling it is the right thing to do.

"We thought we could be part of the solution to bring back a community," he said.

For now, it's business as usual, until the deal is done, sometime before the end of the year.

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