$85M hotel-and-condo duo to start rising at Saskatoon's River Landing in next 2 months

Aboveground construction on both a 15-storey Alt Hotel and an adjacent 20-storey condo building is expected to begin by the end of August or early September, say the companies involved.

Still a mystery: the design of the nearby public plaza

Construction on the parkade will lie under the hotel and condo building at River Landing has been underway for months. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

An office tower at Saskatoon's River Landing development isn't the only project on the lot that's expected to start rising from the ground later this summer.

While construction of a three-level underlying parkade has been underway for several months, above-ground construction on both a 15-storey Alt Hotel and an adjacent 20-storey condo building — the latter billed as No. 1 River Landing — is expected to begin by the end of August or early September, say the companies involved.

Together, the hotel and condo building mark a $85-million investment at the latest phase of River Landing development — on top of the $55-million office tower (the first of a planned pair) that's expected to break ground next month.

On Saturday, Toronto-based Urban Capital, the company developing the 125-unit, $55-million modernist glass condo building, held its latest open house in an effort to sell off the remaining 20 available units.

A preliminary illustration of the overall River Landing development, with the reflective water surface at centre. (Triovest)

Earlier this year, they added another four floors to the building plan.

"This project has been a bit unique in the sense that, because of the interest we've had, we haven't needed to do a long-term consistent sales approach," said Taya Cook, the development director for Urban Capital.

An illustration of the planned No. 1 River Landing condo building. (Urban Capital)

After the project's first 105 units sold out in a flash last November, the project's showroom-in-a-trailer — located on 19th Street, by the front gate of the construction lot — effectively closed down for months.

"We reached our pre-construction [sales] levels quite quickly, and because of that weren't in a rush to sell it. We didn't staff the sales centre; we didn't have it open," said Cook.

But with construction about to ramp up, the trailer will soon be gone from the site for good.

A visitor to the trailer showroom points to a model of the hotel and condo building. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"We have to move our sales trailer after this weekend in order to make way for construction of the office tower," said Cook.

According to Cook, the 20 available units are the result of buyers changing their minds after a 10-day cooling-off period and other buyers opting for a unit on a different floor after the extra floors were added.

The building is expected to be open to tenants in the summer of 2019, she said.

Hotel to open fall 2018

Before then, in the fall of 2018, the new 156-room Alt Hotel being developed by Montreal-based Groupe Germain is expected to open its doors.

The trailer will be gone soon to make way for ramped-up construction activity. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The approximately $30-million, 156-room building will include a ground floor restaurant or bar and a side entrance leading to the public plaza connecting the office tower, condo building and hotel.

Exactly what that plaza will look like remains a mystery for now. 

The City of Saskatoon, which originally owned all the land under development, has the final approval of the design and is working with Triovest, the overall site developer, plus Triovest's landscape architectural firm, Winnipeg-based Nadi Design, on the plaza plan.

Triovest has released a sketch showing the plaza as "a reflective water feature," but Blair Sinclair, an executive vice-president with Triovest, cautioned that that design is "one of several concepts that we're looking at right now."

A preliminary rendering of the Alt Hotel. (submitted by Lemaymichaud Architecture Design)

"We want to make sure that whatever we create becomes something that all of the city can be proud of," said Sinclair.

Cook of Urban Capital says the company is also providing input on the plaza.

"We definitely want to have water involved in the design of the public square, but I'm not sure to what extent at this point," she said.

Hugo Germain, the director of development for Groupe Germain. (Groupe Germain)

She says all the players are slated to meet in Saskatoon this week to discuss the plaza.

Lesley Anderson, the City of Saskatoon's director of planning and development, said via email that the city's top goal for the plaza is for it to "remain accessible and open to the public."

As for Hugo Germain, the director of development for Groupe Germain, he says, "I think we need also to come up with ideas that we see in other developments throughout the world and try to bring... a truly modern space where we can attract people."

Gallery opening a boon

Germain and Cook both say the city's recent announcement that the Remai Modern Art Gallery will open this fall is good news for both the hotel and condo.

"For us it's extremely good news," said Germain. "We have this beautiful property just across the street from us. For Saskatoon residents, and for our hotel guests, that brings a lot of interesting things to see."

The City of Saskatoon has announced the nearby Remai Modern Art Gallery will open this October. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ontario.

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