Old Plaza 500 Hotel may turn into rental suites

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Sandra Thomas
Van. Courier

The former Plaza 500 Hotel and Convention Centre on West 12th will likely be converted to rental apartments. In an email to the Courier, Nancy Eng, communications coordinator for the City of Vancouver, confirmed an application by development consultant Brook Pooni Associates to convert floors three to 17 into rental units has been approved by the city subject to conditions. If approved, the second floor will also be converted – from hotel use to office space.

The iconic property, kitty corner to city hall, was home to the Plaza 500 for decades but closed several years ago. It was later announced the property would become part of the Indigo chain, operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, which also manages Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels.

An Internet search of “Hotel Indigo Vancouver” resulted in dozens of mentions, including an “official description” on the popular website TripAdvisor submitted by “the hotel.”

“Located in the heart of Cambie Village, one of Vancouver’s trendiest, fastest-growing neighbourhoods the hotel is steps away from the Canada Line and minutes from downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport… From the locally-inspired art to the oversized beds with plush bedding and spa-inspired showers, Hotel Indigo Vancouver is designed to reflect the local culture, character and geography of the surrounding area while the IHG brand hallmarks ensure consistent and reliable service…” the description reads in part.

The TripAdvisor page also includes colourful photos of guest rooms, but an attempt to book a room led to a Hotel Indigo webpage offering the message “Page Not Found.”

While there’s plenty of information readily available about the hotel online, attempting to speak to a real person about the property’s future is a different story. A phone message left for Francie Schulwolf, vice-president of corporate communications for InterContinental Hotels Group, wasn’t returned. Neither was a phone messages left for Alfredo Perdomo, listed as financial controller on the Plaza 500 Hotel website, or an email to [email protected]. A phone call to the hotel was answered by a man who refused to answer any of the Courier’s questions and who also insisted there is “no head office.”

“I’m just here doing paperwork,” he said.

In response to a phone call from the Courier, an employee at Firefly Fine Wines and Ale located in the bottom of the empty hotel confirmed the owner is Azim Popat, but refused any further comment. The Courier attempted, unsuccessfully, to reach Popat by email and phone. A land title search completed through B.C. Assessment Online, states the $8.5 million property is owned by Yaletown-based Yorkson Investment Company Ltd., “attention Florence Chan.” An Internet search showed the address included on the report matched one for PFC Management, which shares the same phone number and where Chan answered the phone. Chan denied having any knowledge of the Plaza 500 property.

The Courier was unable to reach Chuck Brooks of Brook Pooni Associates before press deadline.

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