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By Maurice Cacho

Commerce students will finally have a place to call their own after Ryerson reached an agreement to secure a block of land to construct Ryerson’s new business building.

Crews have already started demolishing a parking garage that currently stands on the site at the corner of Bay and Dundas streets. After that, construction will start in order to meet the targeted September 2006 opening.

The project’s budget jumped to $73.5 million, above the $60 million the Board of Governors originally slated for the building, said Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse.

“We believed [last year] we could build on our land,” Lajeunesse said. “The fact that we have to build on somebody else’s land means that the board … realized that they had to take that into account.”

Ryerson’s business schools will occupy three floors of the proposed facility that the site’s owners, Cadillac Fairview, will develop. Beneath Ryerson will be floors of retail space Cadillac Fairview will use.

“It’s almost like a condo,” said Adam Kahan, vice president university advancement. “[Cadillac Fairview] will build some retail and parking space, and we will build our business faculty on there as well.”

Ryerson’s new business building was to be located at 777 Bay St. However, negotiations fell through last October, forcing the Board of Governors to find a new site.

If the initial plan had gone through, the new building would have been completed for September 2005. Funding for the building will come from a variety of sources.

While $12.5 million will come from Ontario’s SuperBuild fund, the university will have to rely on fundraising and loans to supply the rest of the cash.

“The fundraising campaign will go out soon to find major donors to raise approximately $30 million of private funding,” Kahan said. Lajeunesse said selling the building’s naming rights should bring in a lot of interest from possible donors.

“This is the last major faculty of business in this country that’s not been named. So we believe that we will have great opportunities to sell the naming rights to that building. “It’s the last one so there may be many people who would like to [have] their name on the last [un-named] major faculty of business in this country.”

RyeSAC President Dave MacLean, a commerce student himself, said the site could help the faculty introduce new programs and find jobs for students. “Because of the Bay Street location, there can be an excellent opportunity for students learning business to do co-op right downtown with major companies at their head offices,” he said. “It also has the potential to expand us into MBA programs and so forth.”

Although the building would be off campus, its location makes up for the distance students will have to walk to get to class, said Robert Carmona, business faculty director for RyeSAC.

“One thing I was worried about is the location and distance from Ryerson, but where it’s going to be-at Bay and Dundas-you can’t get any better than that.” A final sketch of the building should be ready by January.

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