Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 04, 2017 - 10:00 am

Inuit org’s business arm buys Iqaluit hotel building for $14.9M

Qikiqtaaluk Corp. won't reveal plans for building, but it won't be a hotel

The Inuit-owned business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., is the new owner of the Hotel Arctic building in downtown Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)
The Inuit-owned business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., is the new owner of the Hotel Arctic building in downtown Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

The Inuit-owned business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., is the new owner of the Hotel Arctic building in downtown Iqaluit.

Harry Flaherty, president of Qikiqtaaluk Corp. confirmed QC’s purchase of the building Aug. 1 on CBC radio, ending weeks of speculation after the building’s previous owner, Northview Apartment REIT said last June that it was negotiating a sale of the building.

Flaherty has not returned multiple calls this week from Nunatsiaq News, which attempted to seek comment on QC’s purchase of the building.

Northview is a publicly traded real estate investment trust whose units are sold on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Northview president and CEO, Todd Cook, said in a letter to shareholders Aug. 2 that it had disposed of Hotel Arctic for $14.9 million, and bought 327 residential units in Moncton, N.B. for $31.4 million.

“The sale of the Hotel Arctic and acquisition in Moncton, N.B., continues our focus on strategic capital deployment,” Cook said in a statement.

Cook described the hotel as a “non-core asset.”

Until now, the identity of the hotel’s buyer was kept confidential until July 28.

Renovation work inside the building began shortly after the sale was finalized, with a dumpster placed outside the Hotel Arctic to collect waste material.

Linay Freda, Northview’s northern regional vice president, said in an affidavit filed in court that the new owner will not use the building to operate a hotel.

Another condition of the sale is that the building be handed over vacant by the end of August.

That’s been a sticky issue for the operators of the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

The owners of the Waters Edge Steak and Seafood and Kickin’ Caribou pub argued in court that their lease didn’t expire on Aug. 31, as Northview had claimed, and instead allowed them to negotiate a lease extension until 2023.

Following an expedited civil trial, a Nunavut judge ruled against the restaurant owners.  However, they’re attempting to appeal that ruling.

James Morton, the lawyer representing restaurant owners Kim and Donna Waters, told Nunatsiaq News that his clients are asking that the court grant an expedited hearing for their appeal prior to the conclusion of the lease.

Pending any intervention from the courts, the Waters Edge confirmed it would remain open until Aug. 20.

Both QC and Nunavut Arctic College were named as possible buyers in court during a civil hearing over the restaurant lease, during testimony given by Kim Waters in early July.

The QC is also involved in plans to build a conference centre and possible hotel along Federal Road, on Inuit-owned land, as part of a larger project proposed with the City of Iqaluit.

The Hotel Arctic was built by Nova Builders of Yellowknife in 2006-07 and was originally called the Nova Inn.

Northview’s predecessor company, Northern Properties REIT, acquired the building in 2011, when they bought Nova’s Iqaluit properties, which included the Nova Inn, the Navigator Inn, the Qamutiq office building and some apartment buildings.

NPREIT changed its name to Northview REIT in August 2015, following a merger with companies in southern Canada.

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(13) Comments:

#1. Posted by lol on August 04, 2017

Worst kept secret in town.  The second worst kept secret is that it will be used as a student residence for Nunavut Arctic College.

Convenient that QC closes out 25% of Iqaluit’s hotel capacity just as they start work on their own new hotel and conference centre.  Nothing like guaranteeing demand for your product.

#2. Posted by OH NO! on August 04, 2017

QC will probably close it not long after like some other businesses it bought or opened and closed not even a year later!

#3. Posted by Diana on August 04, 2017

You can’t blame QIA for closing down a hotel, There are enough hotels, bed and breakfast’s Etc. Inujunga, This is our Inuit Organization going above and beyond, be supportive. Too much negativities everywhere, be the change!

#4. Posted by Lack of hotels on August 04, 2017

@3: there are too few hotels in town. Everyone involved with accommodation logistics in Iqaluit is worried about this hotel closure. The town is growing and the new airport will likely increase traffic, at least slightly.

And if there were too many hotels, there wouldn’t be any being planned. There’s at least 1 being built on Federal Rd and 1 across the boarding home.

#5. Posted by lol on August 04, 2017

#3 -there’s no blame being assigned.  It’s a smart business move to ensure that there will be a market for their new hotel by creating a deficit of hotel spaces now.  As for your assertion that there is enough hotel space in town…I disagree and suspect that will play out in a big way during the upcoming Tradeshow and Mining Symposium.

As a side point, consider QC’s recent attempts at running businesses requiring significant customer service and engagement.  QITC, Frobuild, convenience store/Starbucks and their restaurant in the NTI building are all gone.  Hotels are exceptionally challenging to operate.  Here’s hoping they can attract and, more importantly, retain decent staff who understand the business. 

High turnover rates will lead to a poor customer-service experience and in the hospitality industry the customer experience is key.

#6. Posted by On the Way on August 04, 2017

It’s one step to providing opportunities for learning and building our capacity.

#7. Posted by lol one more time on August 04, 2017

#3 there is a serious shortage of hotel rooms and conference spaces in Iqaluit and the loss of the Hotel Arctic will make this situation even worse.

Have you ever tried to find a hotel room when a big meeting is going on or the legislative assembly is meeting? At those times every single hotel room is taken and you cannot get accommodation anywhere.

Also, there are basically no good conference spaces with proper lighting and decent acoustics, just poorly designed rooms that are usually too small to hold large functions.

Having said that, QC is making a wise move by staying out of the hotel business. They proved they do not have the talent or the energy to run a business based on customer service. Baffin Deli was a joke, the Starbucks and convenience store were jokes and Frobuild was a fiasco.

If QC wants to run a hotel they will have to hire a management company from the South to do it for them on a contract because QC does not have the mental ability at the top of the organization

#8. Posted by M.O. on August 04, 2017

Shortage of housing in Iqaluit?: 100% of the time
Hotel room shortage in Iqaluit?: give me a break

#9. Posted by lazy on August 04, 2017

I have zero confidence in QC’s ability to operate a decent hotel. Especially if they run it like they ran the other businesses mentioned in #7 and #5’s comments. They ran them into the ground.

#10. Posted by hotel-off on August 04, 2017

Hotels are such nasty business.  They change owners all the time and have to renovate after every ten years.  If they do not renovate, nobody will come.  People want cool and new all the time for something that costs $200.00 night.  Hotels have really high overhead costs.

#11. Posted by Stewie on August 05, 2017

Who cares about a shortage of hotel rooms? A far bigger concern will be the dearth of bar stools now that both the Nova and Nav are closing.

#12. Posted by Joanasie on August 08, 2017

This hotel/venture will soon be run into the ground like all the other businesses that QC has taken over. 

Frobuild - run for 20 + years - run into the ground.
Jens Steeberg woodshop - 10 + years - run into ground
Baffin Deli - best location - four corners - gone

These are the ones we know about.  There must be more.  QC is the organization that should be putting money into the pockets of beneficiaries.

#13. Posted by lazy on August 08, 2017

#12, don’t forget Plateau Convenience and Plateau Cafe - featuring Starbucks bevereges - a sure hit. Closed after one year.
I’m sure QC have had their share of successes too, but there was no good reason for these businesses to fail as miserably as they did. The money would have been better spent had it been put in the hands of a 12 year old.

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