Jesse Tipping has a dream for the old motel he bought a few years ago – and things are looking pretty rosy on that front.
Tipping, president of the Athlete Institute Basketball Academy in Ontario, purchased the property a few years ago to house the teens who come from all over the world to attend his centre in the Hockley Valley.
But he also scored big time when, out of the blue, he received a call from a location manager inquiring about the place as a possible filming spot for a new CBC comedy. It was a fish-out-of-water series about a wealthy family who loses it all and winds up living in the divey motel in the small town they once bought as a joke.
The rest is history – literally, as the show, Schitt’s Creek – became a breakaway hit and went on to sweep the Emmys in September with a record seven wins, making it the most-awarded comedy in a single year.
Tipping no longer uses the property for his students – the academy outgrew the motel and he built an actual dormitory for them on campus, a few minutes' drive away – but he held onto it as long as the show continued to film. The production used the motel’s exterior for all six seasons.
Now that the Roses have said farewell to Schitt’s Creek – the show’s emotional finale aired on CBC in April and the final season began streaming on Netflix this past weekend – it’s time for Tipping to do the same.
He is hoping not to sell the motel, which is closed, to just anyone; he has a vision for it. He wants to see it become “a five-star experience,” the kind of place where Moira Rose and family would have felt at home, right from the beginning: a boutique hotel with a fancy restaurant.
“It’s been a special property for us and I would really like to see it continue on as an homage to the Rosebud and Schitt’s Creek,” he says, referencing the motel’s fictional counterpart. “It’s got potential and I want to see this piece of Canadian history have new breath.”
So far, so good. Tipping says he has fielded “a fair number” of inquiries from potential buyers. “Everybody that has reached out has [shown interest] based around Rosebud living on.”
The seven-acre property has not been listed and Tipping, who also lives in the area, is hoping to keep it that way and negotiate a private sale. He would not disclose a possible price or reveal who has expressed interest in buying it.
But the business model, he believes, is there.
“There’s hundreds of people a day just driving to the motel from Toronto just to take a picture; it’s a little insane.” Imagine if all those people stopped for lunch – or stayed the night.
Although he was not directly involved in the show, Tipping had a front row seat as his motel was transformed first into a more derelict property – the first couple of years, production crews would spray the bricks to make it look dirty – and then slowly, over the seasons, improved. He also watched the show rocket in popularity and acclaim.
But he was not able to see Schitt’s Creek win all those Emmys live as history was being made. That night presented a huge TV viewing dilemma for Tipping: the Emmys – where the show starring his motel was up for a bunch of awards (although the wins were by no means a slam dunk) – or the NBA playoff game, where former Basketball Academy student Jamal Murray was playing for the Denver Nuggets against the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals. Murray, who lived at the motel for two years, won out (even if his team lost that night).
Tipping was, however, on set when the series wrapped. It was emotional for him, even if he is just a bit player in all of this.
“Obviously I don’t have anything to do with the success of the show other than owning the motel, but just seeing from the beginning, the heart and soul of Dan and Eugene [Levy] and what they were trying to create ... was really cool to see. They didn’t cut corners. They had a vision and they looked to execute on it.”
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