RYERSON SHOPS FOR ITS FUTURE

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By John Shmuel

Ryerson University has bought a lucrative new Yonge Street property right next to Sam the Record Man.

Sheldon Disenhouse, lawyer for the family that owned 353 Yonge St., site of the former Future Shop building, confirmed the sale.

“The property is owned by Ryerson now,” he said.

Another property, a Church Street parking lot right across from the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre, is currently under negotiations.

“We’re very close to completing [the deal],” Levy said. “There’s a couple of things to be done, but we’re very close.”

Bryce Gibson, of real estate firm DTZ Barnicke and realtor for the Church Street property, confirmed a deal was close to being reached, but refused to give any details.

“All I can confirm is Ryerson is interested in the property.”

Levy said that if all goes well, he expects to have the parking lot bought by the end of the month. He did not reveal what the new space would be used for.

A third property, a building that currently houses an American Apparel on Yonge Street, was also eyed by Levy.

According to him, Ryerson chose not to purchase the property due to financial constraints.

The Church Street lot and the American Apparel building are both owned by the Sniderman family, who also own the famous Sam the Record Man store that Ryerson is currently negotiating to buy.

Ryerson is very close to finalizing the purchase of the Sam the Record Man building from the Snidermans, according to Levy.

If purchased, the school intends to dismantle Sam’s famous spinning neon records. The signs, however, along with the building itself, are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Levy hinted that Ryerson is looking into whether the signs could be relocated, or whether a replica could be made in their place without having to change the building’s heritage designation.

“There’s not any question that the sign has to be dismantled,” he said.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, a building designated as a heritage site cannot be altered or demolished without an appeal process to the Toronto Preservation Board.

In June of this year, Toronto City Council designated the entire Sam’s building as heritage property in order to specifically protect the signs.

Scott Barrett, senior co-ordinator at Heritage Preservation Services, said allowances could be made if a heritage building was relocated to a location nearby.

In this case, the university would need an allowance to move the infamous neon signs.

“As long as the original qualities that made it receive a heritage designation are kept intact, then accommodations can be made.”

He added that he could not comment about the Sam’s site, because the heritage designation of the building was under appeal by an unnamed party.

Sam the Record Man is currently owned by Bobby and Jason Sniderman, the sons of founder Sam Sniderman.

Problems arose initially in the sale of the building last summer when Bobby Sniderman told the media he was upset that Ryerson was interested in purchasing the building even before it had closed down.

That led Levy to suggest expropriation would be an option if the building was not offered to Ryerson. Levy said he expects to conclude the purchase of the two properties soon.

“These things are not going to be six month negotiations. It’s either going to be you’re successful or you’re not.”

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