By Caroline Alphonso
Armed with an influx of surplus cash, Ryerson is acquiring a two-storey building in an effort to ease campus space concerns.
The deal, worth $790,000, is administration’s first major expenditure using some of the $54.5 million excess surplus sitting in their pension fund.
The building at 111 Bond St. was occupied by Bond International College, a private school that vacated the property in September, 1998.
“We’ve put in an offer to purchase,” said Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and student affairs.
The Eyeopener has learned that Century 21 Realty listed the building’s selling price at $880,000.
Ryerson put in an offer for $790,000 in December, which is $90,000 less than the asking price. If the deal goes through, the sale’s closing date is set for March 31, 1999.
Grayson said physical plant staff, who occupy an area of East Kerr Hall, may be relocated to the building by the next school year, which would free up the area of office and lab space for the engineering department.
The department is in the process of hiring 16 new faculty members to meet recommendations made when the school became accredited for the next three years by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).
Derek Northwood, char of the faculty of engineering and applied science, said areas of concern within engineering are hiring more faculty to make up for many recent retirements and finding space to accommodate new staff members.
Because of the recommendations engineering has been requesting more space on campus, said Marc Rosen, chair of the department of mechanical engineering.
Grayson said the building will help alleviate engineering’s space problems.
“The space [the physical resource staff] currently have in Kerr Hall would be freed up for engineers,” Grayson said.
“It would have been nicer from my perspective to put an academic department in there, but the building is too small.”
The Bond International College relaxed to North York in September, 1998, because the school’s enrolment almost doubled, said Steven Xu, assistant to the school’s president.
But for Ryerson, which has little opportunity to expand in the high-density downtown core, any opportunity to lease or buy buildings should be taken, said Manuel Ravinsky, a planner from campus planning facilities.
“When properties within our long-range view on campus become available, it’s great if they are able to free up space for academic use,” Ravinsky said.
Ryerson already owns several abandoned buildings. One is beside the business building at 297 Victoria St., where CJRT used to be, and another is behind the Image Arts building on Bond Street.
Ravinsky said the building at 297 Victoria St. will not be demolished because the school sees it as an important historical site.
The building on Bond Street is in bad condition and doesn’t meet safety and fire codes, Ravinsky said, and the school cannot afford to renovate it without government funding.
Grayson said buying or leasing more buildings around campus may be a possibility.
Ryerson has a $54.5 million excess pension surplus. Like other organizations, the school is allowed by the Income Tax Act of 1992 to have a surplus in its pension plan to act as a cushion when markets fluctuate. But the act placed a cap on any excess pension funds.
Ryerson’s pension committee, made up of staff, faculty and administration, are making amendments to the proposal that sets out what to do with the money.
Under the proposal, administration would stop paying in to the pennons fund. This would free up $4.6 million for Ryerson every year for up to five years.
Part of the money would go toward increasing pension benefits. The rest could be used for improvements in the school and acquiring more space on campus.
“We’re looking at a lot of different ways of getting space, from leasing to buying properties,” Grayson said.