Continuing our ongoing investigation of commercial real estate in Toronto, we look at a soon-to-be-available Home Hardware location that’s begging for a restaurant makeover.
Location: 304–306 College St.
Currently: Home Hardware
Status: The property is currently on the market for rent, and Home Hardware will vacate the premises at the end of July to move into a bigger space at 290 College (the old home of Factorydirect.ca).
Size: 2,600 sq. ft. on the main floor, plus a wide outdoor area on Robert Street that could be converted into a patio to take advantage of the 20 ft. of frontage.
Price: $35 per sq. ft. net annually, plus $2,500 per month for taxes and insurance.
Length of lease: It depends—if a restaurant takes over the space, the lease will be 10 years, whereas if it’s a non-food retailer, it will be 5 years.
Renovations required?: Before Home Hardware moved in over 30 years ago, 304–306 College was two separate storefronts. The property could again be divided into two units, though that would be costly, and if the renovations were done by the landlord, the rent would likely increase. Moreover, if a food retailer looking to take advantage of the corner unit (and potential for a patio) became the new tenant, significant alterations to the property would be required, including the installation of a kitchen, which is no small feat.
False starts: Philip Pick, sale representative with Esbin Realty, and realtor for the property, says interest has been high, mostly from restaurateurs, both independent and chain.
What’s happening with it now?: The landlords are more interested in finding a good-quality tenant than having the property snatched up quickly. “They’ve enjoyed a national tenant for a long period of time, with no interruption in revenue, and they want the same thing [for a future tenant],” says Pick. Despite the fact that the property is not currently being used for food retail, both Pick and the landlords are hoping a trendy restaurateur sees the potential of the space and location (on College, just a block west of Spadina and close to U of T and Kensington Market) and acquires the space. “Right now, Home Hardware is using the boulevard space for parking, but putting a patio out there would allow a retailer to do business six to eight months a year without paying rent on that space,” Pick says.