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Toronto city hall? More like city mall

Erin Criger | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

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Toronto’s former city hall could become a mall, according to a city staff report.

The city’s Government Management Committee is considering what to do with Old City Hall once the provincial and municipal courts move out. They’re scheduled to leave no later than Dec. 31, 2021.

After that, the historic Queen Street building just steps away from the Eaton Centre could be turned into a mall.

The city hired real estate brokerage firm Avison Young to analyze both the space and the market.

“The results of the analysis concluded that the highest and best use for Old City Hall would be conversion to a retail centre that contains a mix of food service, leisure, event and civic uses,” the report states.

Limited space could also be used for “management, smaller tenancies and perhaps city offices.”

File photo of Old City Hall. CITY OF TORONTO.
File photo of Old City Hall. CITY OF TORONTO

The city could charge $41 per square foot, plus maintenance costs, Avison Young said.

Some space, including the building’s courtyard, could be used for the City of Toronto Museum.However, Avison Young suggested that the city might make more money by leasing the courtyard space to a different tenant. Avison Young also suggested that artifacts from the museum could be “integrated” into the building as a whole.

The report goes before committee on Monday.

Old City Hall – actually Toronto’s third city hall – was completed in 1899 at a cost of $2.5 million, and was nearly demolished for the Eaton Centre. However, a group known as Friends of Old City Hall convinced the city to preserve the historic building.

Toronto’s fourth and current city hall opened at the Viljo Revell-designed building in 1965. After that, Old City Hall became a courthouse for the Ontario government.

What do you think of the proposal? What would you like to see at Old City Hall?

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