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This profile was last updated on 11/17/09  and contains information from public web pages.

Lead Architect

HK Hotels

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

15 Total References
Web References
Questions Raised About Exhibition Place, Toronto, Hotel Project Award, 17 Nov 2009 [cached]
Questions have arisen regarding a possible conflict of interest in the awarding of a Toronto, ON contract for a 26-storey, 320-room, $100-million boutique hotel, to be built at the city-owned Exhibition Place by NewYork-based HKHotels, (See,New 20-room Boutique Hotel Approved for Exhibition Place in Toronto, TheWhat'sOnReport,October 13.) A long-term Exhibition Place Board of Governors member, well-known Toronto architect Rocco Maragna, was hired by HK Hotels to design the project in March 2009, but remained on the Board until September 22. Media reports indicate Maragna voted in favour of selecting HK Hotels in March 2009 and sat in subsequent Board meetings where the hotel project was discussed, having declared a conflict of interest.
Two other Board members said they found it unusual that Maragna spoke at a board meeting on behalf of HK Hotels, even presenting his initial architectural drawings to the Board's Business Development Committee in September, prior to his resignation from the Board.
Rocco Maragna helped approve ..., 1 Mar 2008 [cached]
Rocco Maragna helped approve $100M Exhibition Place project. Now he's been hired by builders
March 2009: HK Hotels hires Rocco Maragna as its lead architect.
April 8, 2009-Sept. 22, 2009: Maragna said he 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 helped approve.
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 wrote. "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 said he recalls one meeting in September when he presented his initial architectural drawings to the board's business development committee. Maragna's new boss, HK Hotels owner Henry Kallan, listened as Maragna answered questions.
Maragna, in the interview, said he sees no problem with what he did.
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.
Maragna 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.
Maragna 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 said.
Maragna has built a career designing small projects in the city, often in joint ventures with other architectural firms.
He was part of a two-firm team that designed the Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.
Maragna 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.
Maragna said the hotel job came to him when Kallan met with him in Toronto in late March.
He said he didn't know any architects here and asked me if I would like to design the hotel," Maragna said.
He said he 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.
Maragna said that starting in April, when the board discussed the hotel, he always declared a conflict and did not participate in the discussions.
Maragna would not say how much he will be paid as lead architect.
Entitled: Greed, Corruption & Incompetence  Prime Time Crime [cached]
TORONTO - City taxpayers paid $4,300 for Exhibition Place board member Rocco Maragna and chair Joe Pantalone to visit New York and tour four HK Hotels last December.
Three months after the trip the hotel chain hired Maragna as its architect. (Toronto Star)
City taxpayers paid $4,300 for ..., 29 Oct 2009 [cached]
City taxpayers paid $4,300 for Exhibition Place board member Rocco Maragna and chair Joe Pantalone to visit New York and tour four HK Hotels last December.
The small hotel chain had been chosen in 2007 by Maragna and other Exhibition Place board members to build a $100 million, 300-room hotel on city-owned Exhibition grounds in Toronto.
At the time of the visit, HK Hotels did not have a lead architect for the project. Three months after the trip, in March, the hotel chain hired Maragna as its architect.
The four-day trip taken by Pantalone and Maragna is noted in expense records the men filed to Exhibition Place.
The expense records show Pantalone spent $2,060 and Maragna spent $2,252 on the trip, which took place just before Christmas (Dec. 18-22, 2008).
Maragna did not respond to a request for an interview.
The only expenses filed by members in the past three years came from Maragna and Pantalone, and many of them relate to business or government officials from the Italian community, either in Canada or Italy.
For example, taxpayers paid $2,850 for Maragna to travel to Milan in October 2008 to "meet with officials re the possible Toronto/Milano event.
Maragna also billed $687 that summer for "luncheon meetings and misc. expenses" while meeting with Italian officials in Toronto re a "Toronto/Milano 2009 event."
In March, 2009, Maragna expensed $770 while in Italy related to "securing the 2015 Milano event for the new Allstream Centre" at Exhibition Place, and $203 in May to meet with Italian officials in Toronto regarding the same event.
Records show Pantalone expensed a dinner with Maragna and an exhibition official ($111) in 2007 to discuss a "proposed Italian Festival for Ex Place.
Maragna was not available for comment Wednesday.
Exhibition Place | Board Reports | About Us | February 2011, 4 Dec 2011 [cached]
Rocco Maragna, Design Architect Maragna Architect inc
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