While no one will commit until the legal fight is completed, developer Dario Zulich says he's getting a lot of calls from hotel chains interested in building in the Kingsway Entertainment District.
“It's my job to pick and choose the right brand,” Zulich said Thursday, adding that chains rated from two stars and up have shown interest in the Kingsway.
With the KED the subject of appeals to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, however, he doesn't expect anyone will commit until there's clarity on the project.
“But they are very excited,” Zulich said.
A letter from Hilton Hotels has been posted on the city's website outlining the hotel's interest in Sudbury.
“This letter is to confirm Hilton’s strong interest in working with you on your Kingsway Entertainment District multi-use development located off of The Kingsway in Sudbury,” Jeff Cury, senior director of development Canada. “Hilton is currently expanding throughout Canada and I feel this would be a great project to debut the Tapestry Collection by Hilton brand in Ontario.
“Hilton Worldwide is excited about working with you on this project and rest assured that I will do my utmost to facilitate the necessary franchise approval process so that we may move forward expeditiously.”
In an email to Sudbury.com, a spokesperson from Hilton said Thursday the firm is not part of the cost-sharing agreement for the $8.5 million site preparation contract being split between the city, Gateway Casinos and a hotel operator.
“The Canadian market continues to attract our interest, though we cannot confirm any new opportunities at this time,” said spokesperson Jacqueline Toppings. “If and when we have additional news to share, we will gladly remain in touch.”
Zulich said he will represent the hotel operator in the cost-sharing agreement, which he said will be finalized in the coming days.
"(Hilton) is absolutely interested, but there are a number of hotel chains and hotel operators that interested in the site," he said. “I'm going to represent them until a deal is finalized … But they won't commit until (the LPAT process) is done, or if they do, it would be conditional. They're not crazy.”
In addition to a hotel, he said other businesses have contacted him about building on the KED, including a fast-food chain. Despite the legal battle — which is dominating the current municipal election campaign – Zulich said he's more excited than ever about the project and the benefits it will bring Greater Sudbury.
“The majority of the people in this city want the KED,” he said. “And I'm excited by the level of interest (from private businesses) – they are calling me and telling me they want their flag on here. So I'm not going to go with the first person that knocks on my door. I want to be sure we get the right mix.”
A case management conference is scheduled for Nov. 6 in Sudbury, where the LPAT will hear from both sides in the dispute. Under legislation, a decision on the appeals must be made by June 2019.