Former Niagara Falls generating station to become $200-million five-star hotel

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A former power generating station at Niagara Falls, built more than a century ago and unused for almost 40 years, will see new life as a $200-million luxury hotel, thanks to an agreement between Niagara Parks and Pearle Hospitality.

The Toronto Power Generating Station was designed by E.J. Lennox, the architect responsible for such turn-of-the-century works as Toronto’s Casa Loma and Old City Hall. It opened in 1906 and at its peak was producing more than 100,000 kW for the city of Toronto.

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It ceased operations in 1974 to give priority to the more powerful Sir Adam Beck power station downriver, and was designated a National Historic Site in 1983 but sat empty and unused except as an occasional target for urban explorers. But it remains a highly visible landmark thanks to its lofty location on the side of the Niagara River Parkway. The Niagara Parks Commission took over ownership of the structure in 2007.

Now it’s the site of Niagara Falls’ “first and only five-star boutique accommodation,” says David Adams, CEO of Niagara Parks, in a glitzy promotional video posted to X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube. As Adams explains, the refurbished building will include free indoor and outdoor public viewing areas, including a rooftop observation deck with a view of the falls.

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The hotel will also feature a museum dedicated to Lennox, a public art gallery, a craft brewery, and theatre and event space.

The redevelopment has already been two years in the making. In the fall of 2021, Niagara Parks launched a procurement process with the goals of restoring the building, creating a new guest experience, creating rent payments for Niagara Parks, and creating capital investment in the region.

The signing of a Letter of Intent with Pearle Hospitality means the company will proceed with environmental, archaeological and other assessments, leading to a groundbreaking ceremony in the summer or fall of 2024, and a grand opening in 2027.

“The energy of the place is undeniable and the stories of innovation and invention should be honoured,” Pearle said in a press release. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the Toronto Power Station’s future story and legacy and hope to make our fellow Canadians proud.”

The company has extensive experience in renovating and repurposing heritage properties and industrial sites, including the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa (originally a grist mill build in 1832), the Cambridge Mill (formerly Dickson Mills, opens in 1843) and the Ancaster Mill, which began its life in 1863 as a flour mill, constructed of limestone after fire had destroyed three earlier mills.

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“As we work to redevelop the Toronto Power site, we’re looking forward to applying the best practices we’ve learned through our history of building, redeveloping and operating distinctive and world-class destination properties across Ontario,” said Brian McMullan, spokesperson for Pearle Hospitality. “Niagara Falls is already an iconic destination. Our vision for this project will let visitors enjoy the Falls experience in exactly the type of breath-taking hospitality venue that one of Canada’s foremost natural wonders deserves.”

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