Yellowknife hotel competition heats up with dueling projects

Yellowknife’s next downtown hotel will be 4 storeys high and feature 146 rooms, a ground-floor restaurant and a conference hall with room for 240 people — if and when it's completed, that is.

Edmonton-based Nova Builders building downtown hotel with room for 240 guests

Mike Mrdjenovich of Edmonton's Nova Builders says his company's new hotel will open in the summer of 2016. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Yellowknife's next downtown hotel will be four storeys high and feature 146 rooms, a ground-floor restaurant and a conference hall with room for 240 people — if and when it's completed, that is.

Edmonton-based Nova Builders has filed publicly-viewable development plans with the City of Yellowknife, part of the process to get a development permit for the hotel. People have until Friday to file appeals against the development.

Mike Mrdjenovich, the owner of Nova Builders, says his hotel — which is being built beside The Explorer, currently Yellowknife's biggest hotel -—could open within a year.

"We're planning on the summer of next year, summer 2016. It's going to be a beautiful hotel — the hotel in town," he said. 

Mrdjenovich says work on the building's foundation has already begun. The city, however, says Nova Builders only has an active site grading permit. In addition to a development permit, Nova Builders also still needs a building permit.
It's not clear if Nova Builders actually has permits to do some of the work it's doing on its Yellowknife construction site. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"I'm doing this at risk to myself. But I'm a risk-taker," Mrdjenovich said.

Jeff Humble, Yellowknife's director of planning and development, declined to comment on what Mrdjenovich's company is and isn't allowed to do at the site right now.

"There are legal implications in providing the media any information while a permit or associated permit is posted and not yet 'effective,'" wrote Humble via email. "Any correspondence with the media could impact a potential appeal hearing."

Explorer Hotel eyeing expansion

According to Nova Builders' plans, the hotel's entrance road will branch off Highway 4, directly across the existing turnoff to the N.W.T. legislative assembly.

A path running alongside the hotel will connect to the existing Niven Lake trail system.

The owner of the neighbouring Explorer Hotel, Touchstone Holdings, said in February that it plans to add another 75 rooms, bumping its total number of rooms to 262.

CEO Doug Cox said Touchstone was also mulling the addition of two conference rooms that could accommodate up to 100 people.