helped approve $100M Exhibition Place project.
been hired by builders
March 2009: HK Hotels hires Rocco Maragna as its lead architect.
April 8, 2009-Sept. 22, 2009: Maragna
declared a conflict during this time and did not participate in discussions regarding the hotel at the board.
Early September 2009: Maragna
, on behalf of HK Hotels
, makes presentation of preliminary hotel design to the board's business development committee.
Sept. 22, 2009: Maragna resigns from the board of governors.
Oct. 8, 2009: The board of governors approves Maragna's
preliminary design for the development, which is called Hotel in the Garden and will be located inside the Princes' Gates.
A long-time member of the Exhibition Place
board of governors has been awarded the contract to design a $100 million hotel that he
Back in March 2008, Toronto architect Rocco Maragna voted in favour of choosing New York-based HK Hotels to build the 26-storey, 300-room hotel - the final piece of a massive conference centre at the City of Toronto-owned exhibition site.
In March 2009, while still on the board, Maragna was hired by HK Hotels to design the new hotel.
This raised eyebrows among some fellow board members, particularly in a meeting when Maragna
stood and spoke on behalf of HK Hotels
Several weeks ago, Maragna resigned from the board.
In an interview, the architect said that once he
was chosen by HK Hotels
last spring, he
declared a conflict of interest whenever the board discussed the hotel.
On Sept. 22, he
resigned, sending a letter to fellow board members.
"Although by law it is sufficient to declare a conflict, the perception of the law is another matter," Maragna
"I do not want members and staff in any shape or form to be influenced or perceived to be influenced by my presence on the board."
Maragna is a close friend of Joe Pantalone, deputy mayor and chairman of the board of governors.
Two board members, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they found it unusual that Maragna
spoke at a board meeting on behalf of HK Hotels
In an interview, Maragna
recalls one meeting in September when he
initial architectural drawings to the board's business development committee.
Maragna's new boss, HK Hotels owner Henry Kallan, listened as Maragna answered questions.
, in the interview, said he
sees no problem with what he
Shortly after that meeting, Maragna
issued a letter of resignation.
The Star contacted all 13 board members.
They either wouldn't comment on the record - one said she
felt the chair should speak - or couldn't be reached.
has had a deep involvement in the development.
In February 2007, the board appointed him to the Automotive Building's
steering committee, which made key decisions on that project.
One month later, the board approved two hotel companies to bid on the project and by September it voted to begin "exclusive negotiations" with HK Hotels
said in the interview that he
voted for HK Hotels
because it had a superior proposal.
"It was non-corporate, and they didn't have a corporate name.
It was different.
And I googled the hotel and liked what I saw," Maragna
has built a career designing small projects in the city, often in joint ventures with other architectural firms.
was part of a two-firm team that designed the Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.
said that many years ago he
once worked in the firm of architect Ron Thom, who died in 1986, and was part of a team that designed Toronto's Prince Hotel.
He also said he once worked for WZMH Architects and was on the team that designed hotels for the Four Seasons hotel chain.
A spokesperson for the firm said he
worked there for a short time in the early to mid-1970s.
said the hotel job came to him when Kallan met with him in Toronto in late March.
didn't know any architects here and asked me if I would like to design the hotel," Maragna
told Exhibition Place
staff, and Pantalone, of the job offer.
Pantalone recalls telling Maragna
to declare a conflict of interest, but said he
had no problem with Maragna
taking the job.
said that starting in April, when the board discussed the hotel, he
always declared a conflict and did not participate in the discussions.
would not say how much he
will be paid as lead architect.