By Diana Hall
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy revealed to The Eyeopener Monday that the university is actively pursuing the former site of the Empress Hotel at the southeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, a move that would allow the university to erect a “gateway” into Ryerson’s campus.
“We want to get it and we are thinking how to go about acquiring that property,” Levy said.
Although an agreement has not yet been reached, the university is still in talks with the owner of the lot, a numbered company run by four individuals named Lalani – the same name as the family that had leased the heritage building since the 1980s.
Putting a stake in the largely unused lot would prove to be a welcome addition to the university’s Master Plan, which was introduced in 2008. The additional property at 335 Yonge St. could revive the university’s expensive transit venture that was discarded in favour of the construction of the Student Learning Centre (SLC).
“Clearly, we want to see the [Dundas] subway have an entrance and exit there as well,” Levy said. “So we have that intention.”
As the northbound Dundas subway platform ends just beneath the lot, a bid to acquire it would not only expand the university’s campus — it also has the potential to reshape the face of a vacant section of Yonge Street.
The site was once home to the Empress Hotel and Ryerson’s favourite Thai restaurant, Salad King. After a crumbling wall forced the business out in April 2010, a six-alarm blaze on Jan. 3, 2011 ripped through the three-storey building that had stood on Yonge Street for over a century.
The building was later demolished.