Numerous sources have indicated that McGill may purchase the Four Points Sheraton hotel in downtown Montreal, adding much-needed space to the University’s capacity-strained residence system.
Both the Residences Department and Planning & Institutional Analysis – which is in charge of the physical planning of the University – refused to comment on the possible acquisition, consistent with a McGill policy of not confirming or denying any potential real estate purchases.
The Four Points Sheraton, a twenty-storey, four-star hotel located on Sherbrooke just east of Aylmer, includes 196 guest rooms and 13 meeting rooms.
The property belongs to the Mississauga-based Northampton Group, which owns 17 hotels in the US and Canada. Their CEO, Vinod Patel, did not return email and telephone requests for comment.
Hotel workers associated with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) have been on strike since August 25, 2008 over employee pay and benefits, and more recently, the use of scab workers. On August 29, the Quebec Labour Relations Board ordered the hotel to stop using several replacement workers, some of whom were identified as minors.
According to Lyle Stewart, a CSN spokesperson, the union had no information as to whether or not the property might be sold.
“It’s a rumour that circulated amongst hotel staff even before they went out on strike last summer, but nobody seems to know where it came from,” Stewart said.
Rising first-year demand for residences has led McGill to seek new properties in recent years. The University bought the Renaissance Hotel, now New Residence Hall, in 2003, and the Diocesan College building on University last spring.
According to Michael Porritt, Executive Director of Residences and Student Housing, the University is already leasing 200 spaces for residences due to to high first-year demands – which numbered 2,200 this year spread out across 13 undergraduate residences near the downtown campus. Many of those spaces are at 515 Ste. Catherine, a newly-constructed apartment building that rents exclusively to Montreal university students.
Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson has previously stated that it is the University’s goal to expand the spaces available in the Residence system in order to accommodate upper year, graduate, exchange and visiting students.