The Winchester Hotel – Brick By Brick, sparing no expense.

The Family behind the Stunning and expensive renovation of
the Winchester Hotel deserve all of the credit.

Brick By Brick, sparing no expense. A little while ago, the Globe and Mail ran a great article about the Winchester hotel. The author went into great detail describing the artisans and trades that went to so much effort to restore the building. They forgot to mention one thing… the people that paid for the project. Well, we decided to look into it. The Owner of the Winchester hotel is a man named Ron Black. The Black Family is originally from Montreal, going back over 4 generations. Their ancestry can be traced back to Odesa, Ukraine.

Over the eighteen months, we have all seen the effort put into the property. With the help of Tom Mintsopoulos  of One Oak Design and Build. They  oversaw the restoration project, including adding a 13 ft lantern 26 ft. flag pole, tuckpointing, windows and a full cleaning, taking out and redoing over 6000 individual bricks. Sparing no expense whatsoever. But what kind of person invests so much into something so long forgotten. (Editors note I still miss “The Winny” and its seedy undertones, illegal streaming of pay per view fights and live music…did I mention the 10$ pitchers on Thursday night) Yes, some brave soul repurchased the building and decided to invest heavily to bring to the level all heritage buildings should strive. Who does that? Well, lots of people in Cabbagetown. The neighbourhood is full of proud homeowners themselves spare little expense on heritage. It is no wonder the community is so happy. Mr Black and his family not only did the job right, they are continuing to renovate the inside of the building extensively in the months to come.

We chatted with Mr Black recently to find out about the person that had the vision to hire the best artisans in the city (likely North America) to do the job right.

Why did you buy the Winchester?

“We have been invested in the Montreal real estate market for a long time. We had been looking to make an investment in Toronto real estate for years and never quite found the right fit. Until we came across the Winchester hotel. We have always loved heritage properties and were thrilled to be able to acquire such a historic building. We took over ownership in August of 2018. “

People are over the moon about this project. Have you ever been involved with a project of this size (or cost) before? What was your motivation for going above and beyond?

“This was definitely the largest project we had gotten involved with at the time. It can always be scary to venture into the unknown but at the end of the day, the site was so gorgeous we figured if not risk it for this, then when? We wanted to fully restore the building and bring it back to it’s former glory. We were not interested in patching up problems – our goal is to fix things in a way that will stand the test of time, even if that means having to spend more money.”

What was the biggest challenge?
The COVID 19 pandemic forced us to pause construction, and then when we were able to start up again, staffing was an issue. We felt terrible for our tenants because the project took longer than anticipated.

Would you do it again?
Time tells all, but thinking about how unique the project is and how good the long term prospects of Toronto are, it’s hard to think otherwise.

Let’s hope the Mr Black and his family does.

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