401 richmond toronto

Toronto rallies to save historic building and cultural hub

The future of 401 Richmond, the arts and cultural hub inside an old factory building on Richmond at Spadina, is in jeopardy thanks to its climbing tax bill.

That's why an online petition is gaining steam to help save the building before it's priced out. It's accrued 3,050 supporters and continues to pick up steam.

"For a building like 401 Richmond, its tax bill reflects not its reality as a four-storey retrofitted factory, but its potential as, say, a 20-plus-storey condo tower," wrote Murray Whyte in Toronto Star, back in December. 

This is based on the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation's assessment, which looks at a property's value based on its highest and best use, he explains.

"In 2012, UrbanSpace, the building’s owner, paid close to $447,000 in property taxes, with its rate increasing steadily to that point at 1 per cent per year," says the petition.

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"Then in 2013, it jumped to $520,280. By 2016, the bill was within a few hundred dollars of $700,000. Without some kind of intervention, the building’s 2017 tax bill will be $846,210.73." It could go up to $1.29 million by 2020.

While UrbanSpace has absorbed the brunt of these increases, tenants are starting to feel the heat too. 

Representatives at the municipal and provincial levels are working on a solution, but as the Star reported earlier this week, time is running out.

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Since launching on Monday, the Change.org petition has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures, and counting.

Tenants at 401 Richmond include artists, designers, galleries (including Abbozzo, Red Head and Open Studio), stores (Spacing Store, Swipe) cafes (Dark Horse, The Roastery) and various non-profit arts and community-minded organizations. 

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns


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Toronto rallies to save historic building and cultural hub