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by André Voshart

The Metropolis building is finally back under construction.

Construction started at the north-east corner of Yonge and Dundas streets in 1999. Today, a consulting firm involved with the $300-million project doesn’t expect the building to be complete until mid-2007.

Once it is finally complete, the “urban lifestyle entertainment centre” will seek to lure some of the 56 million people who pass through Yonge and Dundas streets annually. The centre will have AMC Theatres, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and a Future Shop. A considerable amount of remaining space has already been leased out.

The site is managed by PenEquity. In 1997, Ryerson made a deal with the company, as well as with AMC Theatres and the City of Toronto to use 12 of the 24 movie theatres as lecture theatres. In exchange, Ryerson allowed Metropolis to expand over its Victoria Street parking garage.

Former Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse initially expected the building to be completed by September 2000. Already five years overdue, the building has suffered seemingly endless delays and hiatuses.

In February 2004, PenEquity project manager Keith Travis told the Eyeopener that construction would be complete by 2005. It wasn’t. Now the completion date is at least two years away.

But crews were back on site last week. Ron Soskolne’s consulting firm, Soskolne Associates, has been involved with the development of Yonge and Dundas since its beginning. He said construction will be finished by mid-2007. PCL Construction Management is now in charge of finishing Metropolis, which will be four storeys high and 360,000 square feet.

“The (parking) garage will be operating throughout the construction,” Soskolne said, adding that crews have already installed “huge trusses” to help support additional weight.

In 1999, Vanbots Construction was contracted to work on the basement and ground floor, but after that was done construction was put on hiatus.

“The developer (PenEquity) had to renegotiate the financing to the upper part of the project,” Soskolne said.

The construction still causes problems for commuters in the area, whether they’re being herded through the blue plywood hoardings after exiting Dundas subway station, or getting stuck in a traffic jam on Victoria Street, which will remain one-way until construction is complete.

“We hope these issues will be resolved,” Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning and facilities at Ryerson said, adding that on rainy or snowy days the temporary structures cause water and slush pools where pedestrians walk.

Since the blue hoardings have become somewhat of a mainstay at Ryerson, some students don’t mind them anymore. ”

It has no affect on my life whatsoever,” third-year hospitality and tourism student Andrea Cochrane said outside the construction site. She said she is used to walking through the hoardings daily.

John Huynh, first-year arts, is new to Ryerson, but said he isn’t bothered in the least. “Maybe a student whose been here a longer time would look at it as an eyesore,” he said. “It hasn’t really affected me that much.”

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