Continuing our ongoing investigation of commercial real estate in Toronto, we look at what the future holds for this iconic Queen West church now that it’s changed ownership.
Location: 761 Queen St. W.
Currently: A number of non-profit organizations inhabit the space, as well catering company and café Raging Spoon. Despite its iconic façade, the building has not operated as a church for nearly a decade now.
What’s happening to it?: In Sept. 2011, R & B Properties owner Daniel Rumack purchased the space from the Toronto United Church Council, however, the current tenants will remain onsite until their lease ends in Dec. 2012. The current landlord for 651 Queen St. W. (formerly the Big Bop), Rumack was instrumental in turning the space into a branch of Crate & Barrel’s sister store CB2, which will be opening up at Queen and Bathurst in the next few months. Similiarly, he will be looking to convert 761 Queen St. W. into a commercial retail property.
Size: approx. 30,000 sq. ft.
Price: Though the sale price could not be ascertained, Cushman & Wakefield Ltd. realtor Noah Rechtsman confirmed it was originally listed at $5 million. Rumack has not yet determined the future rent, but it may be similar to that of 651 Queen St. W., which is currently going for $50 per sq. ft. per year.
Length of lease: Because a potential future tenant won’t be moving in until late 2012 (a conservative estimate), it is a bit too soon to start talking about leases. That said, because of the size of the property and the potential rent it will fetch, it’s safe to assume that any tenant that can afford to move in will also be able to afford taking over the property on a long-term lease.
Renovations required?: Internally, the building is in very good shape, having had renovations in the mid-1990s to make way for a community-action centre. However, the space is very divided, with a number of staircases running throughout; the only large area is the former sanctuary. “For me that’s an awesome retail space,” says Rumack. “You have 30-ft. ceilings in there, so I’d like to open up even more of the building so you have a really big beautiful space.” Curiously, unlike the former Big Bop, the church is not classified as a heritage building by the City (despite the fact that it dates back to the 1890s). However, Rumack wants to maintain the external façade, and clean up much of the brickwork and entrance way, to maintain its unique character. (On top of being an old church, the property also boasts 120 ft. of frontage—five times that of a typical Queen West store.)
How long will it be vacant?: There has already been a great deal of interest from prospective tenants since Rumack’s acquisition a few months ago, but for the most part it has been smaller companies, like coffee shops, looking to find a home in the property. Rumack is not interested in turning the former church into a condo and he’s stated that he would like to see one big retailer take over the majority of the space rather than divvy up the large building. R & B Properties has currently hired the Northwest Atlantic real-estate consulting firm—which represents everyone from Adidas and Apple to The Gap and Whole Foods—to canvas the market and find a suitable future tenant. Rumack is hoping to secure one in the next six months.