New Centennial College campus closer to reality

The Guild Inn is closer to becoming home to Centennial College’s hospitality school after the college and the City of Toronto reached a tentative agreement.

On August 5, city council created the terms of a letter of intent with the college on Centennial’s plans to use the former inn and area landmark.

“It may be finalized as early as this December, up to five years,” said Mark Toljagic, Centennial Public Relations.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) owns the Guild Inn property.

The city has been leasing the property from the TRCA for many years now. Under a sublease from the city, Centennial College will be use the property to create another campus. The lease is expected to last 76 years.

“Our intention is to manage this investment,” Toljagic said.

The college plans to renovate the old Bickford Residence, the main white building on the 6.8 acre property. It will not be financing this development on their own but expects to get help from hotel developers and operators.

Last year the Guildwood guesthouse burned down and the inn’s tower was demolished. The other buildings on the property, such as the Bickford residence and the artists building, are to remain.

The inn has been left untouched for many years. It is preserved as a historic site by the TRCA.

The college’s plans are to make the site into a new hotel and conference centre, in which students will learn how to work in the hospitality industry. The Bickford Residence, along with the artist colony, will continue to be preserved as historic sites in order to save the city’s heritage.

Toljagic says there will not be any drastic changes that would damage the inn in any way.

Redevelopment of the property will be made in two phases. The letter of intent should be finalized by December or next May at the latest, according to Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie.

Construction is to start in one to one and a half years.

The city will be putting about $4 million into maintaining and bettering the gardens on the property. It usually puts about $250,000 annually into garden maintenance.

“The city investments will be to the park, not to the project,” Ainslie said.

The College will be running the inn and the city will be in charge of staffing and taking care of the surrounding gardens on the property.