toronto old city hall

Toronto's Old City Hall could become a shopping mall

Old City Hall at Queen and Bay streets could be turned a shopping mall when the provincial and municipal courts clear out of the building some time in the next decade.

Nothing has been decided yet, but a real estate brokerage firm hired by the city believes opening up the building to retail, food service, and leisure-focused businesses is the best way to generate money from the 116-year-old heritage structure.

A report that's due to be considered by the city's Government Management Committee on Oct. 5 suggests tenants might be selected based on a theme, such as technology and innovation, arts and culture, or "the best of Toronto."

The courtyard/parking lot in the centre of Old City Hall, which was previously set aside for use by a museum of Toronto (should there ever be one that requires a physical space,) may end up being used for another, as yet unknown purpose.

Museum artifacts, the report states, "could be integrated into the tenant program for Old City Hall if a museum, or dedicated museum space, is not viable."

Old City Hall ceased to be Toronto's municipal headquarters in 1965, when New City Hall opened on the other side of Bay Street. Infrastructure Ontario has leased some of the space on behalf of the provincial courts since 1972.

A new, purpose built court facility is due to be completed by 2023, but right now the city is only willing to allow Infrastructure Ontario to remain at Old City Hall until 2021.

What do you think? Could a retail centre geared towards promoting Toronto businesses be a winner?

Follow Chris Bateman on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Ben Roffelsen/blogTO Flickr pool.


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