What does the future hold for the Hearn?
It's been a while since the future of the Hearn Generating Station has drawn much discussion. The sweeping industrial site, which last operated in the early 1980s, has sat dormant for years, occasionally hosting film shoots and intrepid urban explorers. Last we wrote about the site, Studious of America, the company with the lease for the property, proposed that it be retrofitted for a hockey rink complex. That idea is once again a conversation piece as city council is set to vote on a motion to have staff examine the site's suitability for a sports and culture facility.
While it would cost a whole lot more than this, there is $32.4 million in city funds set aside for a sports facility that has yet to be used. If given the green light, the authors of the report, which would include input from the group Friends of the Hearn, would be tasked with making a compelling business case for transforming the 1950s power station into a modern facility. Aside from the above mentioned funds, the reason why a sports complex is one of the favoured scenarios is the sheer size of the building, which covers 2.3 hectares.
It's also a rock solid structure thanks to its former use as a generating station, so the structure itself is well-suited to a retrofit. Talk of demolishing the building and redeveloping the site is never too far away, but it would be a real shame to see an opportunity of this magnitude wasted. No, we're not likely to be so bold a city as to turn the Hearn into a cultural institution like the Tate Modern (especially in the mostly undeveloped Port Lands), but a sprawling sports facility might be just the type of kickstart the area needs.
Photo by twurdemann in the blogTO Flickr pool.