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s McGill University becoming the Donald Trump of higher education? First the school purchased the Renaissance Hotel on Park Ave. in 2003 to turn it into a dormitory, and now it’s apparently in the market to buy the Four Points Sheraton on Sherbrooke St. W., two blocks east of the downtown campus. Science student Billi Wun, vice-president of the First Year Council, told the students’ society newspaper The McGill Tribune this week that FYC president Sean Husband confirmed the news. Husband, whom Wun described as the liaison with the First Year Office, informed the council there are negotiations between McGill and the hotel. Spokespeople for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., parent company of the 196-room Four Points, didn’t return calls to headquarters in White Plains, N.Y. “McGill has a policy of not discussing real estate transactions in public,” university spokesman Doug Sweet said on Thursday. Maintaining that no-comment rule, the executive director of residences and student housing did acknowledge that McGill operates at a 97.5 per cent occupancy rate. “We’re generally full and over at the beginning of the year,” Michael Porritt said, referring to the approximately 2,800 mostly first-year students housed annually. Porritt said the former Renaissance Hotel that McGill transformed into a 700-bed dorm in the the fall of 2003 is regularly at 99 per cent occupancy. There is other off-campus housing at McGill-owned Selwyn Hall in St. Henri as well as property leased at the Presbyterian College on University St. and an apartment building on Ste. Catherine St. W. Jean Lortie, president of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux’s commercial wing that represents hotel workers, said he is skeptical about such a deal. A search by the union found no proof of a transaction or request with the city for a zoning change. Instead, he suggested it’s an employer pressure tactic to end a labour conflict at the Four Points – where about 90 workers have been on strike since last Aug. 25. Lortie recalled that when there was a walkout at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal further west on Sherbrooke in 2005, “there were rumours it was being sold to McGill.” The university never disclosed what it paid for the Renaissance, but it did cash in a $150-million, 40-year bond for the acquisition. [email protected]