Newly reopened Margate motel fully booked with local tenants, foreign workers

Story and photos by Jim Brown

The newly renovated Margate Apartments building

Austin Roberts is the owner of a newly renovated motel in Margate along Highway 6. He says it didn’t take him long to fill every one of its seven units with long term tenants.
“We’re actually quite excited about that property. It was a bit of an eyesore (before),” he acknowledged.
Not any more.
The Margate Apartments building had been sitting idle for quite some time, before he bought it in the fall and shortly afterwards began its remarkable transformation.
“We had a need for accommodations – we had some foreign workers working with us,” said Roberts.
So he bought a strip motel that was slowly deteriorating, and began working on it from top to bottom for several months through the fall and winter, using a local contractor.

The motel consists of six two bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit.
“Kensington is such a great area for business (and) we knew we would have no problem renting it,” said Roberts, adding there’s a waiting list.
“We took three units for foreign workers and four units were left over” for other renters.
“We probably could have rented them at least three times over,” he said.
Roberts had no problem finding tenants. In fact, he didn’t even have to advertise.
“People would search us out, they’d see the work was getting done and they would find out who we were and come up to the office. They’d get hold of us through neighbors and friends.”
Roberts estimates the renos have cost in the range of $350,000 to $370,000 and though the gleaming building looks done, he says there is still some work to finish.
“We’ve got painting to do on the doors, and we’ve got some design work going between doors to give each (room) privacy,” he said.
There’s also landscaping that needs to be done behind the apartments to draw water away from the building.
His foreign worker complement includes young employees from India.
All told, 10 foreign workers are employed in Roberts’ businesses in New Annan and Kensington.
The units were available for renters on April 15.