New owner of Northern Lites Motel aims at short-term rentals, long-term apartments

·2 min read
The Northern Lites Motel in downtown Yellowknife has been purchased by Rob Warburton, the president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and a partial owner of the Racquet Club.  (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)
The Northern Lites Motel in downtown Yellowknife has been purchased by Rob Warburton, the president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and a partial owner of the Racquet Club. (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)

A Yellowknife businessman has purchased the Northern Lites Motel with plans to initially turn it into short-term housing, and eventually, into apartments.

Rob Warburton, who is president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and partial owner of the Racquet Club, officially bought the downtown building on July 4 and has been in the process of cleaning and repairing it.

He said the facility is no longer a motel and he has plans use it as a property that visiting workers, such as construction crews, can rent on a monthly basis.

"Short term, the reason it's focused on crews is because our vacancy is so low. There's really nowhere for all these construction crews to stay when they come in," Warburton said.

"Hotels are pretty full, so we're kind of kind of squeezed."

Warburton also said his focus is on making that area work better for downtown, which has "nowhere to go, but up."

"I've been a big advocate of kind of revitalizing the city and downtown," he said.

"And this opportunity felt like a great way to kind of do all those things."

Timeline unclear

Warburton expects it to take a few months before the property is ready to house visiting crews.

He said there are some people still living in the former motel, who were there at the time of the purchase.

"As I clean it up, I'll either help them find somewhere else, or if they want to stay, they can stay," he said.

Warburton said the building still requires a lot of cleanup and he doesn't know if the apartments are "doable" just yet.

But he said they are needed.

"There's a definite need for more housing and especially stuff in the downtown," he said.

He said his best guess for when it could be ready for long term accommodation would be in another year, to a year and a half.

The Northern Lites Motel located on 50th St. was briefly used as the COVID isolation centre this past winter.

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