Benefits to Massey Hall on North Market to benefit from Sun site office tower

Dennis Hanagan –

Community council has given the green light to redevelop two notable Downtown sites.

The landmark Canadian Bank of Commerce building and its majestic columns at 197 Yonge St. north of Queen will be incorporated into a 60-storey condominium called the Massey Tower, while the Toronto Sun site at 333 King St. E. will be redeveloped with two additional office buildings of 17 and 12 storeys.

While community council approved the proposals at its May meeting, city council will have the final say over both proposals.

Massey Tower proponent Gary Switzer, CEO of MOD Developments, told community council it’s time the block where the bank is located had a facelift. “This has been a block somewhat neglected over the years. We looked at the opportunity to finally unlock (its) potential,” he said.

The plan includes demolishing the Albert building at the rear of Massey Hall and conveying land to the Hall to build a new six-storey facility. As well, the bank’s front portion would be retained and its lobby incorporated into the new structure. It’ll have above grade parking and retail uses.

Switzer said some restoration work has already taken place in the bank, which was designed in 1905 by architects Darling and Pearson. “(We) managed to go inside and uncover some of the glories that were there.”

In a May letter to the city clerk, Mark Garner, executive director and chief staff officer for the Downtown Yonge BIA, said the proposal and its benefit to Massey Hall, which was designated a National Historic site in 1981, will “positively complement the ongoing evolution of the neighbourhood.”

The extra land for Massey Hall would provide new space for performers, patron facilities, and administrative offices. “It’s the first expansion possibility in its 119-year history,” said Massey Hall president and CEO Charles Cutts.

The Sun site redevelopment was also supported by the community, confirmed Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association (GWNA) member Julie Beddoes.

The taller building will be located be on the east side of the Sun site near Berkeley St.; the smaller one will be located on the southwest corner.

The plan also calls for retail space and focuses on “employment uses.” Existing buildings would be retained.

Developer First Gulf submitted a zoning amendment application to get the project started, plus a $500,000 Sec. 37 contribution to the redevelopment of the North St. Lawrence Market.