A Thunder Bay hotel that passed its best-before date decades ago is now closed, but will undergo a major makeover and reopen under new ownership.
After renovations, the Midtown Inn on Cumberland Street – originally the Shoreline Hotel – will be rebranded as an Aiden by Best Western.
On its website, Best Western describes Aiden properties as "a trendy new collection of upper-midscale and flexible custom-designed boutique hotels."
Mississauga developer Sam Mushtaq recently purchased the Midtown Inn from the previous Toronto-based owner, who acquired it in late 2018.
Mushtaq says he researched the Thunder Bay market and is convinced that a complete conversion of the hotel will prove to be a worthwhile investment.
"This is an excellent location. I went through the stats and I saw how much money the city is putting in the marina there and how well the downtown is doing. This is a wonderful opportunity to turn it into a boutique hotel," he said in an interview.
Mushtaq also owns three other hotels.
Although his newest acquisition is over 60 years old, he said it's solidly built.
Project manager Jagdish Nair agrees.
"The guts of the building are really strong. It's all concrete. Nowadays, in the new builds, you don't see this much concrete. It has a lot of potential," Nair said.
Renovations will be done in stages, beginning with the guest rooms.
"That's going to cost from $3 to $4 million," Mushtaq said. "Then we want to put a rooftop patio on the fifth floor. That's going to cost $1 million."
If all goes well, the hotel will reopen next May.
Julie Garman, who operates the Pier 61 bar and Beacon restaurant in leased space, looks forward to the changes.
Both facilities will close at the end of January, but will eventually be replaced by a lobby bar and café, with a main bar and restaurant on the fifth floor.
"It's a great opportunity, especially to be part of the Aiden brand with Best Western. It's really exciting for our business," Garman said. "I've always felt that this building and location had a lot of potential."
She said she expects the rooftop patio, with its excellent view of the harbour, will be a big attraction for visitors as well as local customers.