Edmonton

Hyatt Place hotel aims to spur more development in The Quarters

With its jagged angles, twisted glass exterior and strange shape, the Hyatt Place Hotel is more than just a building; its owner hopes it will be an inspiration that encourages others to develop well-designed buildings in a neglected neighbourhood.

Hotel expected to be open by end of the year

An artist's rendering of the Hyatt Place hotel, being constructed on Jasper Avenue and 96th Street. (City of Edmonton)

The shell of the Hyatt Place hotel now looms large over The Quarters, giving a hint at its final form: a wide tower with twisted glass panels and jagged angles.

"I must admit, I never understood how it was going to look," said Prem Singhmar, owner of the AUM Hotel Group.

"We said 'let's put something unique that has not been in Edmonton before.'"

The Hyatt, located on Jasper Avenue and 96th Street, has been under construction for the past two years. Designed by Edmonton architect Gene Dub, the $60-million, 13-storey hotel will boast 230 rooms, including 34 larger suites.

It will also house 11,000 sq. ft. of commercial space on the ground floor.

"We are looking for some high-end, well placed businesses that can serve the pedestrian traffic," Singhmar told CBC's Edmonton AM Monday.

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Signhmar said when he approached Dub and city planners with the project, he wanted to make sure that the hotel wasn't just a copy of other buildings in the city.

He was inspired by some of the other "very beautiful buildings" near the lot, pointing specifically to the Flat Iron building and St. Barbara's Cathedral nearby.

The development comes with a price tag. At $12 million, the twisted glass panels that cover the outside of the hotel cost more by themselves than the last hotel Signhmar built. However, he said he was committed to a well-designed building.

He said he hopes the hotel will serve as a catalyst project, drawing more people to build high-quality projects in The Quarters — a long-neglected neighbourhood dotted with abandoned buildings and gravel parking lots.

"The idea was to put a building which may induce other people to move in the area and to start developing The Quarters," he said.

Fitting into the neighbourhood

Signhmar said he has worked closely with the city to make the hotel fit in with the surrounding neighbourhood. Edmonton is currently working on a beautification project on 96th Street, installing new lights and replacing the pavement with coloured stone.

The hotel will include a meeting room that projects out into the sidewalk, built at the request of the city, which wanted to break up the monotony of the street.

There are plans to build a 30-foot fireplace outside of the hotel to give pedestrians a place to warm up during winter.

"The city has done a tremendous job," he said.

Signhmar said the hotel is expected to open by the end of the year.

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