Midnight Sun Hotel to rise again in Dawson City
Renovations planned to bring the hotel back into shape, after sitting vacant for years
The Midnight Sun Hotel and historic Caley Building, in Dawson City, Yukon, have new owners — and there are plans to fix the buildings up and re-open the hotel.
The Tr'ochëk Limited Partnership and Northern Vision Development (NVD) have purchased the buildings and refurbish them. The two buildings have sat vacant for several years.
"It's in surprisingly good shape," says Rich Thompson, president and CEO of NVD, about the Midnight Sun Hotel.
"Maybe that's an overstatement — it needs work, a lot of work — but there are also aspects of it that are surprisingly in reasonable shape."
Thompson says the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Trust — the independent investment arm of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation — is providing the majority of financing for the properties.
"There's been a lot of activity in the economy up there, driven by mining interests and improved tourism. And we've certainly been the beneficiaries of that," said Thompson.
NVD and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Trust already own the Downtown Hotel in Dawson. The new purchase means they now have two hotels on the same block in the center of town.
Maureen Birckel is the lead trustee for the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Trust.
"There has been a lot of things happening in Dawson, the tourism economy has been very good — the Trust thinks this is a great opportunity to invest in our home community," said Birckel.
'A sign of confidence in the town'
The Midnight Sun Hotel was built in the early 1980s and designed to look like a Gold Rush-era building. It has 20 guest rooms, a restaurant, tavern, and store.
"Having a commercial property, a valuable commercial property like that, being reopened is a sign of confidence in the town," says Alex Somerville, executive director of the Dawson City Museum.
"You know, when these things sit boarded up, there is a very visible indication of an economy that might not be working as well as it should be," he said.
He says Dawson residents will be happy to see the hotel open again.
"When these things happen, I think it generally signals positive things to the community and we're certainly getting that kind of feedback from people."
The Caley building, originally built in 1901 and renovated in the 1980s, will be used for overflow hotel suites for guests, and staff housing.
Renovations are expected to begin right away, with the goal of having the Midnight Sun Hotel back in business by next summer.