August 21, 2017 | Campus
University of Toronto acquires key parcel of land
(Image courtesy Michal Kuzniar, assistant planner, Campus & Facilities Planning and Google Earth)
The University of Toronto is laying the groundwork for future academic initiatives, acquiring a key parcel of land located within the footprint of its St. George campus.
The purchase of the four-acre site bordered by College Street and Spadina Avenue will allow the university to shape the future use of a prominent gateway to its campus. The site’s current tenant, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which is one of U of T’s fully affiliated hospital partners, will continue to operate there as long as needed. The hospital’s lease runs until 2038, with an option to renew for another 20 years.
“This is great news for U of T,” said President Meric Gertler. “This investment will benefit future generations of faculty and students, and will allow the university to continue its work as an important city builder.”
The move comes at a pivotal time for the downtown Toronto campus as the university considers its long-term land use through a review of its Secondary Plan and prepares for a major revitalization of King’s College Circle through its Landmark project.
The newly acquired site is across the street from the recently renovated home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at One Spadina Crescent, which is quickly gaining renewed prominence as a city landmark. Acquiring this nearby property will create an important link to this site and continue the university’s efforts to create a welcoming entrance to the St. George campus from the west.
“This is a rare chance for us to acquire a strategic piece of property within our campus precinct and make sure it will be used in ways that support our academic mission for years to come,” said Professor Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president of operations.
U of T’s downtown Toronto campus is home to about 88,000 students, faculty and staff who work, study, teach and conduct research on a campus that is intertwined with the fabric of Canada’s largest city. Mabury described the purchase as the most significant addition to the campus in decades. It comes at a time when Toronto is experiencing rising demand for office and residential space and its profile as a centre of research and innovation is attracting worldwide attention.
The university is buying the property from a fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management, for $123-million. The site includes three buildings built in 1968 – a 15-storey tower that fronts on College Street and two buildings on Russell Street. There is also a house on College Street currently used for office space, and a parking garage.
The majority of the purchase will be funded with long-term debt, with some money coming from reserves and cash.
“This is excellent news for CAMH,” said Lori Spadorcia, CAMH’s vice-president of communications and partnerships. “U of T is a valued partner in the patient care, research and education that CAMH provides and we look forward to collaborating with them as we plan our space needs going forward.”
In the long-term, the university intends to consult broadly as it develops plans for the site, which is likely to be the home of future academic, research, innovation and residential projects for students, faculty and staff.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the university,” Mabury said. “This is a once-in-a-generation chance for us to shape this major intersection where the university and the city meet. We have an obligation to future students and researchers to make this investment and ensure this land is available for their use for decades to come.”