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Holiday Inn to be transformed into privately-owned student residence

Plans to convert the Holiday Inn hotel on Sherbrooke Street into a private student residence were announced last week.

Campus Crest Communities Inc., a student housing developer; and Beaumont Partners SA, a real estate investment company, acquired the hotel located at 420 Sherbrooke on Jan. 15th. The joint venture partnership plans to convert the building into student housing by Fall 2014.

According to a report by Business Week, the acquisition is worth approximately $65 million, and gives Beaumont Partners SA 65 per cent ownership of the venture and Campus Crest 35 per cent. In addition to the acquisition, the two companies secured financing for renovations through a loan deal with the Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and Raymond James.

According to the report, leasing is set to begin in Fall 2014.

While Beaumont Partners SA manages the acquisition of real estate, Campus Crest will serve as a property manager for the residents and provide a staff that includes a general manager, leasing manager, and courtesy officer for security purposes for the building.

Ted Rollins, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Campus Crest Communities Inc., said the new residence would provide a high-end housing option unlike currently available student housing.

“Once completed, the property will include a broad array of high-end apartments and expects to attract undergraduate and graduate students by offering an upscale housing alternative with modern, attractively furnished rooms and a range of amenities,” Rollins said. “The property will also offer residents an engaging lifestyle program with an array of fun, diverse activities and events.”

The cost of rent for the new residence has not yet been announced.

McGill’s undergraduate enrollment rose from 24,025 in 2008 to 26,725 in 2013. As McGill continues to experience a gradual increase in student population, the residence may provide an alternative private accommodation for incoming students.

Harris Waqar, a U3 Arts student living at Varcity515—another similarly-designed, privately-owned student residence located on Ste. Catherine St.—was not offered a space in a McGill residence during his first year. He said private residences could provide advantages in light of the increased demand for McGill residence space.

“McGill doesn’t have enough residences to accommodate all their students; they weren’t able to accommodate me,” Waqar said. ‘From that perspective, it can be pretty intimidating and confusing when you come here [to Montreal] for the first time and have to look for an apartment and all that [….] So all these places like Varcity515 will be in a sense a secondary choice or a backup option.’’

The acquisition may also alleviate the pressure on the university’s Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) unit, which opened a new hotel residence, La Citadelle in Fall 2013 to accommodate increasing demand for student housing. The new building was formally a Courtyard Marriott hotel located next to the Holiday Inn, as it’s newest residence to accommodate the increasing demand for student housing in Fall 2013.

Although SHHS signed a lease agreement with Varcity515 this year due to overbooking of incoming students, Interim Director of Residences Janice Johnson, said there are no current plans to sign such an agreement with the newly acquired residence.

“We are certainly aware of the Campus Crest/Beaumont developments, as well as other similar projects, and are monitoring them closely,’’ Johnson said.

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