It's been 25 years since the last guest checked out of the Flin Flon Hotel - but more may be on the way. A group announced Friday that it will buy the hotel, renovate it and build a new one in its place with a franchise from Wyndham Ramada.
At an event at Pioneer Square Sept. 8, the City of Flin Flon, the prospective ownership group and representatives from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts Canada confirmed they have reached a deal that will see the group purchase the Flin Flon Hotel building and site and license it with Wyndham, which owns the Ramada chain of hotels.
Together, both Wyndham Ramada and the new owners will heavily renovate the long-vacant building, located at the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street. The company and the buyers have reached a long-term franchise agreement that will award the Ramada by Wyndham brand to the new hotel once it opens.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, nor any potential cost figures for renovating and reopening the building.
The plans for the site include an 80-to-100-room hotel, complete with a restaurant, bar, fitness centre and other amenities. Renovation and construction is slated to begin in 2024. The company anticipates it will require 30 to 40 staff members once operational.
"It's going to be a brand new build. We're going to have a brand new hotel in downtown Flin Flon. It's going to be an attraction to Flin Flon, it's going to help the community and everything around it. We're looking at between 80 and a hundred rooms," said J.P. Shearer, one of the prospective franchisees for the new hotel.
"We're going with Ramada - it's a beautiful brand. It's going to be an amazing hotel."
"We've had our contractors out, they've looked at it and we got the green light," said Declan McDonald, the leader of the franchise group.
Mayor George Fontaine said that talks between the City and the buyer group began in earnest earlier this year, once the City's plan to demolish the long-vacant hotel building were made public. At the start of this year, Fontaine said the only plan for the hotel building was to knock it down.
"When this council came in, one of our first moves was to budget for the demolition of the Flin Flon Hotel. It was to a point where there was nothing else for us to do, we were out of options, it had to go. That, I'm happy to say, has changed," he said.
Once the plans to demolish the building were announced, Fontaine said McDonald and Shearer reached out to the city, unwilling to let go a chance to set up a location in Flin Flon.
"That was part of the thing - when they realized at the last minute, that this place was going down, they thought, 'We're missing an opportunity.' They came to us and said, 'We think we could do something with it,' and we said, 'We'd love somebody to do something with it, but we hadn't had any takers until then," said Fontaine.
"This is the best news we could ever come up with."
Peter Lee, the senior director of development for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts Canada, said that Ramada would oversee the design and rendering of a new hotel.
"Once we get the renderings to us, we can take a look at the renderings and the design. Obviously there's going to be the hotel, the restaurant, the lounge, conference centre, fitness centre. It's going to be a full-service hotel from what we need, from the Ramada standpoint," said Lee.
"Once we get the renderings and we approve that, we can start working with the construction people."
Lee said the company got involved with the project during a development in Winnipeg, when McDonald brought the idea forward of buying the Flin Flon Hotel and nearby properties.
"He sent some photographs and I said, 'What are we doing here?' He said, 'We're going to keep this, but add on to it and build a new hotel. Flin Flon needed a new hotel, because of all the things that are happening in this community," Lee said.
"We're the largest hotel company worldwide, but we don't have a hotel in Flin Flon. We saw that as an opportunity."
Shearer said that the plan will include extensive renovations, but will not include tearing the existing Flin Flon Hotel building down. The plan also includes extending the building, both southward along Main Street and westward toward the parking lot behind the hotel. The three existing buildings south of the Flin Flon Hotel, formerly occupied by Edie's Closet, Urban Tot and First Stop Computer Service, were all slated to be demolished by the City this year.
"The shell will definitely stay - maybe not the bricks, maybe new bricks, but the shell will absolutely stay," said Shearer.
"It will be bare bones after (interior renovations begin) - make sure everything works. It's going to be a brand-new build basically, with a half brand-new built, half renovated facility."
The Flin Flon Hotel, once one of uptown Flin Flon's biggest businesses, has been closed since 1998. It has since changed hands several times, with several tries to develop the building, but no owner has been able to fully redevelop and open it since its initial closure.