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Plans revealed for notorious Calgary hotel to be transformed into affordable housing

Click to play video: 'Plans revealed for notorious Calgary hotel to be transformed into affordable housing' Plans revealed for notorious Calgary hotel to be transformed into affordable housing
A notorious hotel in southeast Calgary could soon be converted into affordable housing. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Dec 28, 2020

A southeast Calgary hotel could soon be transformed into affordable housing.

The Town and Country Hotel has a long history in Calgary, dating back to 1972, providing live music and a place to stay.

“A notorious place in Calgary. A lot of people have spent time here and had a lot of fun,” said the hotel’s owner Mike Shymka.

Read more: Police investigating after shooting reported at southeast Calgary hotel

It survived a fire and has been the scene of numerous police incidents over the years.

“This is a high-needs community. There’s a lot of stuff going on here to say the least,” said Shymka.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the operation into a money-losing venture for the family who owns the Town and Country.

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Read more: Significant damage after fire breaks out at southeast Calgary hotel

“The hotel industry is on its knees. It’s very difficult to make a go of it right now and I don’t see us coming out of this anytime soon,” Shymka said.

A deal has been struck between the hotel owners and Victory Foundation, a Calgary outreach group that provides meals and shelter for the city’s homeless.

The plan is to convert the 48 rooms into affordable housing for women, children and seniors.

The head of Victory Foundation says the location just off 17 Avenue is perfect because it’s close to transit and a grocery store.

Read more: Calgary gets federal funds for 176 affordable housing units: ‘A watershed moment’

The group’s other affordable housing units in Ogden and Forest Lawn are now at capacity.

“Especially in a working class neighbourhood, it really brings hope,” said Don Delaney, executive director of Victory Foundation.

“There is a big need for women’s housing especially over the years and we have seen it grow. Also, in this neighbourhood there are a lot of seniors who need affordable housing,” Delaney said.

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Victory Foundation has experience with giving old buildings new life. Victory Manor on Ogden Road was opened in 2010 by the organization. It provides transitional housing for around 60 men and the average stay is about a year.

Victory Foundation has applied for funds through a federal program called the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), a $1-billion fund designed to create 3,000 units across the country.

“The needs are going to be huge. So 48 rooms with the possibility of another 20, this is a great idea. This is a win-win for the community and for people who need it,” Shymka said.

The project still needs city approval. Delaney said the city has provided a $50,000 grant to help with preliminary development of the plan.

The total cost of the project is $9.5 million. The purchase price is $4 million and the cost of the renovations are estimated at $5.5 million.

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