650 Bay Street, seen Sunday, was previously a budget motor inn…
…but after extensive renovations will reopen as a boutique hotel
From sketchy to trendy: A dilapidated budget hotel at the southwest corner of Bay and Elm Streets is undergoing a top-to-bottom transformation, and will re-enter the city’s hospitality market as a trendy boutique hotel. The former Bay Street Motel at 650 Bay Street had been looking down-at-the-heel in recent years, and most of the people I saw going in and out looked equally sketchy. I’ve never been inside and, given the seedy look of the hotel and its clientele, never considered recommending it to out-of-town visitors seeking bargain accommodations. Although it offered reasonable rates and an excellent location, the place looked like a dive, and not surprisingly received poor reviews on travel websites. I always assumed the run-down building would get demolished and replaced by a condo tower, and when it appeared that the hotel had closed in late 2010, I kept expecting to see a development proposal sign posted outside. Instead, I saw renovation activity, and noticed that the windows had been replaced. On Sunday, the sounds of hammering and drilling on the premises echoed two blocks up Bay Street, and I could see several contractors working on the roof and carrying renovation debris to a dumpster at the south end of the building. When I got home, I did a quick Internet search and discovered that the building is being completely refurbished and converted into a boutique hotel. As described in a featured listing on Toronto real estate agent Addy Saeed’s website, 650 Bay “is currently undergoing an exterior and interior renovation and will re-open as one of Toronto’s most trendy boutique style hotels.” The website says “[p]remium ground floor space is currently available and suitable for entertainment, retail, hospitality and food services,” while plans to create “Toronto’s largest rooftop patio” are underway. Saeed told me that the building owner still hasn’t chosen a name for the new hotel. Meanwhile, the renovation completion date and hotel opening are up in the air pending the search for a commercial tenant to run the food services operation, which Saeed said “could be a nice take out or sit in restaurant as well.” Once the weather improves, the building will start getting a new limestone facade; Saeed says that work should be finished by summer. I’m glad to see the old brick building being spruced up and given a new lease on life. If the renovations restore the small building’s charm and character, I’m sure the boutique hotel will do brisk business — especially since its prime location is just a short walk from downtown shopping, hospitals, universities and offices. 650 Bay is just one of many properties bustling with construction activity in the immediate vicinity. One major building going up right across Elm street is the 21-storey SickKids Research and Learning Tower, while condo, apartment, university, and other hospital construction projects are all in progress or launching soon within less than a five-minute walk. Below is an artistic rendering that appears on Saeed’s website, illustrating how the hotel should look after the renovations, along with several more pics I have taken showing the 650 Bay exterior viewed from several different angles.
An artistic rendering, provided by the building owner, which suggests how the 650 Bay boutique hotel will look with a new limestone facade.
650 Bay viewed from northeast corner of Bay and Elm Streets
Building viewed from the southeast corner of Bay & Elm
A contractor carries a sheet of plywood past the building…
…to a dumpster in the parking lot at the building’s south end
New windows were installed in the building recently
This photo from November 9 2010 shows 650 Bay Street, left, and two cranes on the SickKids Research & Learning Tower construction site
SickKids Research & Learning Tower construction on February 20 2011