Unfulfilled Promises, Reno Delays, and Legal Woes: The Genosha Hotel

(c) Raymond Buller

Plagued by unfulfilled promises, renovation delays, and legal woes, will the Genosha retrofit ever be finished?  Here’s why the work stoppage by Bowood Properties will be a story to watch in 2016.

It’s hard to imagine given its current state, but the Genosha Hotel was once posh and gentile.

A place for weddings, galas and celebrations.  “The” destination for a fancy night out.  Built between 1928 and 1929, the grand Genosha Hotel once offered luxury accommodation – even hosting the late Queen Mother for a night in 1939.  But when the ’70s arrived, the fate of the Genosha, like much of Oshawa’s downtown, turned sour.  The one-time community hub became a rooming house and tavern, with a notorious strip club in the basement called the Million Dollar Saloon.

In 2005, as plans to clean up Oshawa’s downtown were put in place, city council got tough on the Genosha, and closed the Million Dollar Saloon by becoming the first municipality in Canada to outlaw adult entertainment.

And a few years after the Million Dollar Saloon pulled it’s last pint, things started looking up for the beleaguered landmark.  In 2009, Richard Summers and partners purchased the property, captivating local media with their ambitious plans to renovate the hotel back to its former glory, all while respecting the restrictions of the recently imposed historic property designation.

But as time marched on and the Genosha renovation failed to materialize, it became obvious that the  project had run into trouble.  The optimistic “Follow us on Facebook!” sign that hung on the outside façade became tattered and dirty as the years rolled on with no sign of renovation.  And indeed, the hotel was quietly sold to a development company called Bowood Properties in 2015.

In the summer of 2015, to the relief of many, Bowood’s renovation appeared to be progressing.  Locals took the newly-installed windows and power-washed bricks as concrete signs that Bowood’s goal of providing a residential and commercial space would materialize.

But work has ceased on the property.  Bowood did not reply to our emailed request for comment on the delay, but on January 28, 2016, Tracy Christie, the president of Bowood, spoke to Joel Wittnebel of the Oshawa Express newspaper, indicating the work stoppage was due to an issue obtaining ownership of the property from the former owner.  He also said they were  “…dealing in good faith and pushing forward to get it resolved so I can get back in there and finish off the work.”

What lies ahead for the Genosha?  Only time will tell.

Do you have a comment about the Genosha Hotel?  Have your say in the comments.


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