By Adrian Morrow
Associate News Editor
Ryerson could soon acquire some new land and buildings on Dundas Street, thanks to a partnership with the city.
The school has been in talks with the City of Toronto to combine Ryerson’s old business building on Victoria Street with the buildings next door, which are owned by the city.
“It’s too important a property to let it sit for decades,” said President Sheldon Levy. “The city has been a very good partner.”
Ryerson wants to either renovate or replace the old business building, and the city wants to replace the building next door, which currently houses Toronto Public Health and Hakim Optical.
By combining their properties, the school and city could build a new development with more space for both, Levy said.
City councillor Kyle Rae, who represents the neighbourhood on city council, likes the idea of teaming up with Ryerson.
He speculates that the school’s health programs could benefit from being in the same location as Toronto’s public health offices.
“It would be a great fit. There could be a real synergy there,” he said. Ryerson has been talking with the city about the potential development for the last three years, Levy revealed, and recently the talks have sped up.
Currently, the two sides are waiting for a developer to come on board. “We’ve got a good history, that if we’ve got a third party that makes it a good development for Ryerson, that makes it good for the city, we would be able to (move forward).”
The plan would fit well with Ryerson’s Master Plan, a 20-year blueprint for how the school will grow.
In a demonstration image from a draft version of the plan, Ryerson’s architects envisioned two towers, more than 20 storeys tall, replacing the old business building and the city’s property next door.
Susan Sperling, spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health, works in the city’s building on Victoria Street but doesn’t know of the city’s plans.
She said that the department doesn’t often work with Ryerson’s health programs, except when they take on students as interns.
This isn’t the first time that Ryerson has partnered with the city with the help of Kyle Rae.
Last summer, the two put in a joint bid to purchase the old Sears property directly to Ryerson’s east.
The partnership was so effective that both were able to assemble their bid rapidly.