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What's in a name?

Fraser Towers Hotels and Suites might need a new one

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 02/01) - Fraser Towers Hotel and Suites might soon have the answer to the question: what's in a name?

The recently renovated apartment buildings could run into problems with the city if it keeps its name.

According to city planner Dave Jones, Fraser Towers is walking the fine line between a hotel and a "temporary dwelling" apartment complex.

By calling itself a hotel, Fraser Towers could be pushing that line, said Jones.

"I called the manager and told her it could be a problem," said Jones after he read an article in last week's Yellowknifer referring to Fraser Towers as a hotel.

The building sits in a high-density residential zone, which doesn't allow for commercial development without permission from city council.

Fraser Towers is almost finished turning some of its units into apartment-style hotel rooms complete with kitchens and living rooms.

Technically what Fraser Towers has done is shorten the length of its leases for some of its units. This leaves it within the bounds of residential zoning regulations. "When we look at the building, it is a temporary dwelling and a residential building," said Jones.

Jones said as long as a building maintains "living quarters for a household" -- providing all amenities the of a regular apartment -- it fits the criteria for a residential zone.

But by calling itself a hotel, Fraser Towers blurs the fine semantic line between a hotel and short lease apartments.

Marc Medlan, vice-president of Edmonton-based Maclab Hotel and Resorts, which owns Fraser Towers, said a name change wouldn't be a problem.

"(The name would) be nice to have. I don't know if it's absolutely necessary," said Medlan from a cell phone in his car on the highway to Jasper.

Medlan said Fraser Towers is not a hotel "in the traditional sense."

"That building is actually at least 50 per cent apartments," said Medlan. "We operate it as a hotel but that's what we do as a business."

Medlan said the only differences between the apartment and hotel incarnations are a front desk and phone system.

Developer Gabrielle Decorby, owner of Anderson Thompson Tower, which also provides short-term leases on apartments, said the name could be problematic.

"If they have hotel first it may infer just that," said Decorby.

Anderson Thompson tower advertises its units as "apartment hotels."

Coun. Kevin O'Reilly said he didn't know enough about the situation to comment but would look into it.