In January we learned that MOD Developments had purchased the property to build the 60-storey Massey Tower at 197-201 Yonge Street. Currently located at 197 Yonge Street is the old Canadian Bank of Commerce building, a beaux-arts style structure designed by Darling & Pearson Architects and built in 1905. The building has been vacant since 1987 and was designated a Heritage Property by the City of Toronto in 1990. Recent renderings of the Massey Tower reveal how MOD Developments intends to incorporate the existing structure as the tower's lobby. This is not the first time MOD Developments has incorporated existing structures into new downtown condo buildings — an example of which is already underway at the company's FIVE Condos at 5 St. Joseph Street.
The incorporation of designated heritage buildings as part of new construction is a common practice the city. The City of Toronto allows for alterations to designated heritage buildings through what is known as a Heritage Easement Agreement. This agreement permits developers to use the site for new construction while maintaining important features of the heritage property. Adapting the uses of these sites to modern desires repurposes old buildings and gives them new life. Properties left empty and boarded up for too long do nothing to contribute to their neighbourhoods and can actually drag nearby property values and business activity down. Heritage easements are reasonable solutions to repurpose heritage sites for modern use and in many cases, this is probably the only way many heritage buildings will ever be reintegrated back into their communities. These situations are beneficial for the developer and the city, as a great many heritage properties sit vacant, just as 197 Yonge Street has for the last 25 years — until now.
UrbanToronto Forum member thecharioteer has been busy uploading photos of the restoration work already underway. Take a look!