‘Brown Town’ project to resume this month

The former Cedar Rest Motel – commonly known by the nickname Brown Town – is undergoing a $3-million renovation into Hay River Suites.
— Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Work is set to resume this month on renovating the former Cedar Rest Motel, which is commonly known in Hay River as ‘Brown Town’.The $3-million renovation project is to transform the seven buildings from a vacant and boarded-up eyesore into a 36-unit motel called Hay River Suites.“We started it about a year ago,” said Duncan Cooke, the principal owner of the property, who explained the work so far has involved the foundations of the buildings and replacing roof shingles.

“It went on hold last year at freeze-up,” he said of the project, which is being done by his company, Arctic Canada Construction.

Cooke said the windows and the doors are going to be replaced sometime in August, plus there will also be work on the parking lot.

In September, work will start on the exterior siding.

“We’re about 25 per cent of the way,” Cooke said of the project. “The siding and the windows will happen before freeze-up this year and then, over the course of the winter, we’ll do the renovations for the interior. We’ll have units ready for occupancy next April.”

Arctic Canada Construction has recently had a number of other projects in Hay River, but Cooke, the company president, said those other projects did not delay the renovation work.

“It was just to do with timing and financing and permits,” he said, plus he noted the NWT Fire Marshal had to approve some architectural drawings.

Cooke also noted that, since Arctic Canada Construction has recently been awarded the contract to build Hay River’s new health centre, there will be a higher demand for accommodation units, especially long-term units.

“We were hoping to be a little bit further along with it so we would be open late this fall, but a lot of it was contingent on waiting for an award on the health centre,” he said.

The new health centre will be just across Highway 2 from Hay River Suites.

“It will be completed next spring,” Cooke said of the new motel. “There will be some units available to the public. A lot of them have already been committed for trades working on the hospital.”

No one has resided in the buildings for about eight years.

The buildings are former staff housing at Pine Point and have been in Hay River since the early 1990s.