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Developer offers clarity on KED hotel partner claim

Last week, Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc told city council that an unnamed hotel partner is “fully committed to moving forward” with a development at the Kingsway Entertainment District
A billboard near the site of the Kingsway Entertainment District. (File)

There are several potential hotel partners that have expressed strong interest in the Kingsway Entertainment District, developer Dario Zulich said in emailed correspondence with the city.

“I have shortlisted those opportunities that are in alignment with the ‘KED Design Guidelines’ as submitted to the planning department, and I am currently working to finalize a deal,” he wrote. “As part of these discussions, the hotel developer and I will determine how and when to make a public announcement.”

This point of clarity came in response to last week’s city council meeting, at which Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc told his colleagues that an unnamed hotel partner is “fully committed to moving forward” and will “at their leisure make their announcement without being pushed.”

Leduc’s assertion, which those around the virtual city council table were unaware of, prompted his colleagues to request city administration to reach out to the KED’s partners for clarity.

Zulich’s emailed explanation offered the requested clarity this week, and was sent to the city’s elected officials and forwarded to 

In addition to clarifying the latest in finding a hotel partner, Zulich also made note of what preparations have been undertaken to reach this point, which includes “extensive feasibility work to develop a solid business case for the KED hotel opportunity.” 

“With our project now developing real momentum, I have held detailed discussions with a number of hotel development companies who would build and operate the property, as well as major hotel brand marketing groups who would act as a franchisor.”

Until such time as a hotel partner comes on board, Zulich said he will continue to represent the hotel in the project’s partnership with the city and will be responsible for all of the associated obligations outlined in the existing agreement.

“I believe that all partners share the commitment to build the event centre, casino and hotel developed together on a shared site.”

As clarified during last week’s city council meeting, the current cost-sharing agreement is limited to initial site-preparation work, which carries a price tag of approximately $9.4 million. 

The city is committing $5.9 million, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment has committed $2.2 million, the developer’s share is $530,000 and the developer, a numbered company headed by Dario Zulich, is also responsible for the hotel share of $1.1 million. 

Site preparation work is expected to commence by Nov. 29 and the KED’s grand opening is anticipated to take place in 2024. 

The lack of written agreement beyond initial site preparation is in the crosshairs of a motion Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland told he intends on bringing forward by the time a request for proposals comes in for the municipal arena build. 

At this time, McCausland’s motion will seek to secure reciprocal commitments the project’s sponsors to ensure the original vision for the KED, of a municipal arena, casino and hotel, is realized. 

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for