As part of our ongoing investigation into Toronto retail, we find out how much it costs to occupy one of the most beautiful buildings on Yonge Street.
Location: 225-227 Yonge St.
Background: Known for its red-brick façade, Roman arches, and columns, this grand property dates back to 1899, when the Ryrie brothers—owners of a successful jewellery store a few blocks south at 113 Yonge St.—invested in the construction of a building that absorbed a pre-existing edifice on Yonge just north of Shuter. A southern section built in 1912 stretched the building down to the corner and formed the structure we know today. While it initially facilitated the Ryrie’s expanding jeweller operations (including a partnership with the then-fledgling Birks brand), for the last half of the 20th century, the building was home to The Silver Rail, which, upon opening in 1947, became the first local dining establishment to receive a liquor licence from the LCBO. It remained there until 1998, at which point the building welcomed in The Bay’s HBC Outfitters concept; more recently, it was a Buffalo Jeans/David Bitton store. In 2010, the building was included in the Everest Restoration Project and received a number of repairs as well as a chemical cleaning; it has been deemed a property of heritage interest by the Toronto Historical Board.
Vacant Since: December 31, 2013
Size: 15,000 sq. feet across three storeys.
Price: $850,000 per annum (not including taxes, which amounted to $211,000 in 2013)
Lease: Ten to 15 years; a national or international covenant is preferred.
Renovation potential: The space is in great shape. In real estate terms, it’s in move-in condition for a fashion store. There is no damage from the previous tenants. All the fixtures—such as change rooms, the cash-register bar, and lights—are intact and in working order.
Major draws: The space is located on one of the highest-trafficked blocks in Toronto, with prime corner exposure at Shuter. It is also a very well-maintained building, especially given its age. (When HBC settled in there about 15 years ago all the existing electrical and plumbing was gutted and updated.) The building also has air conditioning.
What’s happening to it now: Realtor Stuart A. Smith of CBRE says there is “significant” interest in the property from prospective tenants.