SUTTON PLACE HOTEL CONDOS:
By Susan Pigg Business Reporter at Toronto Star.
Lanterra Developments plans to close its deal to buy the Sutton Place Hotel June 18 and convert it to condos, but has vowed to create a “rental wing” for some 20 tenants — one of them 102-years-old — who have called the hotel home for decades.
“We are planning to respect their rights and we intend to respect their tenure,” said Lanterra president and CEO Barry Fenton. “We appreciate that some of the tenants are nervous about that, but we intend to comply with our obligations.”
The tenants have been trying to stop the deal since it was first announced in February but will find themselves in a virtual no man’s land as of June 15 when the hotel officially closes and staff are laid off.
The tenants are refusing to move, despite the fact the hotel restaurant and other services will be shut down and they will be largely alone in the empty shell of Toronto’s former palace to Hollywood stars.
“We are taking a lot of pains to ensure their security and their tenure after the hotel closes its operations,” said Fenton, refusing to elaborate. “We’re not responsible for the fact that the hotel had to close. I think the tenants need to appreciate that the hotel was no longer a viable option.”
While plans are a long way from being finalized — and still face considerable opposition from the tenants, one a savvy former Cadillac-Fairview developer — Lanterra plans to add about nine floors to the 33-storey hotel, convert its 375 hotel rooms into up to 600 condo units and add restaurants and retail space to the base of the landmark at Bay and Wellesley Sts.
But first Lanterra has to meet conditions of both a Toronto bylaw that prevents the conversion of rentals to condos and the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Lanterra intends to give the tenants three months notice, as required by law, and has told tenants they will be moved into nearby Lanterra condo projects for up to three years while the hotel is gutted and revamped.
“Lanterra’s attitude seems to be that this is our building and we can put you out anytime we want,” says tenant Jerry Shefsky, 80, a former top executive with Cadillac-Fairview who’s had a penthouse suite in the hotel for 29 years.
Shefsky is especially concerned about fellow tenant Sydney Bacon who just turned 102 and has lived in the hotel 40 years. “He’s not going to be moved out and come back three years later,” says Shefsky.
“We are planning to add a rental wing to the (new condo) building,” says Fenton. “We will provide them with an offer of comparable units at the same rate they’ve been paying.”
Fenton wouldn’t say when Lanterra hopes to start moving out the tenants or start gutting the old Sutton Place Hotel.
But he stressed that none of the issues around the tenants has come as a surprise and they haven’t affected the sale price, which is rumoured to be between $65 million and $80 million, but won’t be disclosed until the sale is finalized.
“There are (condo development) sites that we have acquired that have a lot more complexities than this one. We’re veterans in the business and in life, you know, the more the challenge, the better the site in the end.
“We’re very, very confident in the process. We’re fair developers, we’re understanding developers.”
TO PURCHASE YOUR UNIT AT SUTTON PLACE, REGISTER EARLY AT WWW.955BAYSTREET.COM