Business in the Gardens?

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By Sonia Nasmith

Winter vacation is over and there has still been no concrete movement on finding a site for a new business building.

But Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse has suggested he may be open to reexamining a move into a local hockey shrine.

Ryerson researched the possibility of purchasing Maple Leaf Gardens two years ago, when the building was up for sale, but decided it was too expensive.

“When we looked at it, our conclusion was that we could not make it work,” Lajeunesse said. “But since the [Bay Street] deal has fallen through, perhaps there’s something open.”

Vice President of University Advancement Adam Kahan said Ryerson officials are looking at both new and old ideas for the location of the building.

“All options that physically or potentially could be looked at are being looked at,” he said.

Kahan is confident something will be found before the 2005 deadline.

Previous proposals included the construction of twin buildings on Bond Street, or the demolition of the parking garage on Victoria Street.

Now that Maple Leaf Gardens is back up for sale, however, the university may look more closely at the idea floated by former vice president of university advancement Gordon Cressy, who was the first to suggest moving business students into the Toronto landmark.

Canada’s largest grocery chain, Loblaws, was supposed to develop a supermarket in the arena, but two weeks ago announced it had cancelled plans to purchase the property.

RyeSAC President Ken Marciniec said it is unlikely the Gardens will be a major candidate in the search of a new building.

“It would be an incredible expense and the university doesn’t have the resources for that.”

The Gardens is designated as a heritage site, which means provincial legislation protects parts of the structure. Whoever buys and renovates the hockey shrine will have to incorporate the Church and Carlton streets facades into a new structure, and keep the roof.

Loblaws’ reason for withdrawing its claim to the Gardens was tied to the costs of fixing up the building. Estimates put rennovations at up to $140 per square foot.

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