Waldorf Hotel operator pulls plug; owner's lawyer says it will be business as usual
Waldorf Productions will cease operations at the Waldorf Hotel on January 20 after a lengthy dispute over rent with its landlord, Marko Puharich.
The production company opened its cultural hub in the 63-year-old East Hastings Street hotel on October 31, 2010, to rave reviews from patrons and the media. It includes a restaurant, a tiki bar, hotel rooms, a recording studio, and an art gallery.
Entertainment director Thomas Anselmi told the Straight by phone that his company ran into financial trouble during the first year of a 15-year lease, which was expected in a business of this type. He said Puharich, who represents Waldorf Hotel Ltd., was initially quite accommodating and supportive, but that changed when the operators asked for rent forgiveness.
“At that point, he started looking to sell it,” Anselmi alleged.
He claimed that Waldorf Productions’ failure to pay full rent opened the door for the landlord to switch to a short-term lease at a significantly higher cost.
Waldorf Hotel lawyer Gavin Crickmore told the Straight by phone that he “can’t accept the veracity” of this comment, characterizing it as a “subjective statement”.
“They were paying a base rent for the hotel as of the new lease,” he said. “They made each of those rent payments.”
Crickmore, who was on a conference call with Puharich, emphasized that the hotel would continue operations. He claimed that the operator’s lease expired on January 7.
“We haven’t even had confirmation from them that they’re leaving,” Crickmore stated. “If it is correct that [Waldorf] Productions is planning to cease operations on the 19th, patrons of the hotel can expect it to be business as usual on the 20th. The business of the hotel, obviously, is going to stay open.”
Puharich said that Waldorf Hotel Ltd. owns two liquor-primary licences, one food-primary liquor licence, and one special-retail-store liquor licence.
Anselmi also claimed that the building has been bought by the Solterra Group of Companies, which will build condos on the site.
In addition, Anselmi said that ownership of the liquor licences was transferred from the Puharich family to the new owner.
Crickmore said that he is “unable to confirm any comments” made by Anselmi regarding a sale or potential sale of the property. Solterra’s Mike Bosa did not return a call by deadline.
Anselmi said that the decision to leave means his company will lose deposits for entertainment that has been booked until April.
“We’re hoping the city will step up because we know that…there is a lot of space that the city is allocating right now to artists and artist-run spaces.…We have been running this place as if it was a public institution. And no one can deny that.”