Cecil Hotel could be history

The days of a downtown landmark could be numbered as the city is in the process of selling the land where the Cecil Hotel sits.

The Cecil is perched on the edge of downtown and the hotel’s windows have been boarded up since 2009 when the city purchased the land.

The building has been around for more than one hundred years, but for many the nostalgia associated with the hotel is hardly reminiscent of similar buildings that that have been preserved like the nearby King Eddy.

“In my lifetime nothing good has really taken place in the Cecil,” said Michael Brown, CEO of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

The hotel was plagued by problems before it was shut down six years ago.

Drugs and high crime rates eventually led the city to shutter the doors permanently when it bought the land.

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The city has given its land department permission to sell the Cecil to Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

The CMLC is planning to go to its board of directors to acquire the hotel and hopes to have it in its possession by the end of the year.

“Part of our job at the CMLC is the rejuvenation of east side downtown,” Brown said. “There’s probably no site that deserves some attention more than the Cecil site.”

Some that worked and frequented the Cecil in its heyday argue that the building is worth keeping around.

Dale Block used to work as a bouncer at the bar in the Cecil for years.

“The bands they had in there were really good,” Block said. “The food was good, it was a nice bar”.

He thinks that it’s only a matter of time before the building is torn down.

Local historian, Harry Sanders, believes that a building that is a century years old should be preserved.

“It has value,” he said. “It enriches life to have it there… once it’s gone it’s gone forever and it’s forgotten.”

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Calgary’s mayor mused Monday that the site could be used for future parking in the East Village.

“With construction in the east village there’s a need for short term parking,” Naheed Nenshi said. “It would have been wonderful to be able to preserve that building but it’s just too far gone”.

The building itself will likely have to be torn down and could be turned into a residential site and possibly even another hotel.

The only physical memory that might remain of the troubled hotel is the sign, which the CMLC is hoping to preserve.

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