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By Eric Lam

As Metropolis’ construction moves along quicker thanks to the warm weather, the nitty gritty details of Ryerson’s presence in the building is falling short of what President Sheldon Levy had hoped for.

Though Ryerson will be using half of the theatres as classrooms weekday mornings, the cost of leasing any other space is beyond Ryerson’s means, said Levy. “They’ve asked us on a number of occasions if we’d be interested in leasing space and the answer is absolutely, but not at the rate they’re charging.” Levy’s opportunities to increase Ryerson’s presence to Yonge St. have been thwarted by high advertising prices on the front of Metropolis.

He is also concerned about having Ryerson’s name appear next to those of mega-corporations. The university has instead been given ad space on the Victoria St. side. Levy is committed to his plan to close Gould Street, despite possible trouble from Metropolis management. Although Levy only plans to close Gould east of Victoria to Church Street, he expects a lot of pressure from Metropolis to maintain a clear roadway on Victoria. “They will be in opposition of it, I would assume. At the end of the day we will have to ask, are we willing to put those who require motor vehicles there as a priority over people? I expect Metropolis to be one of many (who oppose Gould St.’s closing).

Leger Xavier, assistant vice president of marketing for Metropolis says there has been limited dialogue between the university and the developer. “We’ve had very preliminary discussions with Ryerson related to the proposed closure of Gould Street,” Xavier said. And until PenEquity Management, the developer of Metropolis, gathers more information, no formal position on Levy’s plans has been taken. “(We need to know) how the proposed changes may impact tenants,” Xavier said. “Ryerson is a very important neighbor and we hope students will appreciate the mix of tenants and services that Metropolis will offer.”

When Metropolis opens, the university will be using 12 out of 24 AMC theatres as lecture halls, thanks to a 20-year agreement between Ryerson and PenEquity. “(The agreement) provides 2,600 seats in theatre-style classrooms that the school doesn’t have to build,” said Manuel Ravinsky, the Facility and Capital Planner at Ryerson.

In exchange, PenEquity expanded construction of Metropolis over Ryerson’s Victoria Street parking garage which Levy says has “swallowed the airspace” above it. Ravinksy says Ryerson will be scheduling classes in the theatre throughout the school year, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday. “The theatre won’t be in use by the public (at those times),” Ravinsky said.

Ravinsky estimates the total cost to Ryerson to be about $750,000. Meanwhile on campus, some students are skeptical of attending lectures in the same place they would go to catch a blockbuster movie. “Classes in a theatre? That’s unheard of to me,” said Ashley Martin, a second-year Arts and Contemporary Studies student.

But this is nothing new to Ryerson, who used Carleton Cinemas as lecture theatres from 2003 to 2005. Metropolis, a 32,400 sq. m shopping centre on the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas, began construction in 2003 following years of delays, though schedule modifications have been made to bring construction up to pace, said Xavier.

When complete, Metropolis will boast Canada’s first Adidas Sport Performance Store, as well as a Future Shop and a restaurant owned by Wolfgang Puck. Xavier says PenEquity expects the blue boards around the building to come down by the spring, allowing construction of a connection to the Dundas subway station to begin.

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