SEARS COULD COST MILLIONS

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By Grant Mcdonald

Ryerson might have to pay some serious cash to acquire the Sears building on Jarvis Street, but the key players in the deal are tight-lipped on the situation.

The Globe and Mail reports the building alone could be worth about $100-million, and that’s not including the land around it.

According to Jim Butticci, a spokesperson for the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) — a company that works in co-operation with the government to make property purchases — Sears has between a year and a half and three years to move out.

Although he wouldn’t go into great detail about the purchase or why the government wanted the building, he said it was a rare situation.

“We don’t go buying buildings in downtown Toronto so it’s a rare opportunity,” said Butticci, a spokesperson for the ORC.

The Eyeopener reported last week that Ryerson has at least one friend in the provincial government who wants to see the school acquire the building.

George Smitherman, the health minister and deputy premier, indicated that he wanted to help Ryerson get their hands on the upside-down pyramid.

The revelation comes on the heels of Ryerson’s bid to expropriate Sam the Record Man.

Like the potential purchase of the Sears building, the possible acquisition of Sam’s hinges on the willingness of the provincial government to pony up and help Ryerson acquire the building.

Vincent Power, a Sears spokesperson, said that once the building was sold, the property was out of their hands as to who would be potential buyers.

“Because the building is sold to the government of Ontario, they [potential buyers] would have to be getting it from the government, not from Sears,” Power said.

Gerald Swartz a Ryerson business professor and economist says Ryerson should be very interested in this potential purchase because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

“The first thing is, you can’t build land, and we’re not York, we don’t have acres we can move into,” Swartz said.

From a business perspective, Swartz thinks the purchase would be positive for the Ryerson community if the price were right.

Now that the government has bought the property, there may be a creative way for Ryerson to pay for the building over an extended period of time, he says, which would be harder if it were owned by a private group.

But Swartz also says if Ryerson were to purchase the property; it would benefit both the government and the university.

“I think it would be ideal for both parties, and ideal for the government because they are saying they are supporting post-secondary education more than just giving money, but also in a way that is creative,” Swartz said.

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