By Kelly Preston
Move over Times Square, make way for the Ryerson parking garage.
The city of Toronto recently announced plans to transform the Yonge and Dundas Streets area into something resembling the famed heart of New York City.
Part of the area the city wants to change in the $150-million project is owned by Ryerson, including the bookstore and parking garage on Victoria Street.
Along with giving the heart of the city a facelift, project officials want to erect a multi-screen cinema complex atop the garage, and build a 300 room hotel/condo on the northeast corner of Dundas and Victoria Streets.
Project coordinator Ron Soskolne said Ryerson has helped the project.
“I’ve had several meetings with the president and other senior officials, and they have been very cooperative,” he said. “Hopefully during negotiations, there will be mutual success.”
The city will offer money to various property owners in hopes the process will not involve any expropriation of land.
Ryerson officials involved in the project are weighing the effects of the proposal and await the city’s next move.
“Any possibility of enhancing the environment is something that we’re excited about,” said Linda Grayson, Rye’s VP of administration. “Ryerson has to opportunity in shaping this project. If this improves our community, it improves the city of Toronto.”
Aside from a safer, cleaner downtown core, Soskolne said there are advantages to Ryerson’s involvement in the project.
“There has been talk of the possibility of using the theatres for class space,” he said. “Also, the garage is not udes a great deal on weekends, and this way it would be, which could create money for the school. With the improved downtown image will come and improved environment at Ryerson.”
In the next four months the city will assess its options and talk with tenants.
“With any luck we’ll begin construction by early 1998, and have it completed within four to five years,” said Soskolne.
After this assessment, negotiations between the city and Ryerson will begin.
In the meantime, the university will review the city’s different land and construction options. Ryerson is concerned with traffic patterns and subway congestion.
“This plan is not really close to being complete,” said Grayson. “But we’re looking forward to seeing the neighbourhood rejuvenated.”