Toronto's Scotiabank Theatre might be demolished
Love or hate that big red cube at the corner of John and Richmond, nearly everyone in Toronto has feelings about the Scotiabank Theatre.
Some people dig its reflective neon escalator panels. Other people cry about how often those escalators are broken. Some say it's the best spot to watch movies in Toronto. Others call it inconvenient because they drive automobiles.
Whatever your views, they soon won't matter: The entire building is almost definitely coming down.
Remember how "sooo 90s" Festival Hall (its original name) was when it opened in the late-1990s? It will not be long for this world now. Yes, it will be razed in the coming years for a massive new development. https://t.co/TWimgdzvm5 pic.twitter.com/trXYU1OwtI— Jason Paris (@JasonParis) February 22, 2019
RioCan, one of Canada's leading real estate investment trust firms, recently announced that it is "exploring the redevelopment" of its RioCan Hall complex in downtown Toronto.
RioCan Hall, home to the Cineplex-owned Scotiabank Theatre since 1999, also currently houses such tenants as Michaels, Marshalls and Goodlife Fitness.
A forum thread concerning the venue's redevelopment pushed local Twitter users into a tizzy late last week over the impending destruction of a treasured movie theatre, but it's important to note that nothing is 100 per cent locked down right now.
RioCan only just unveiled preliminary designs for the project on Wednesday, and while said plans do involve tearing down all of RioCan Hall (save for one facade in front of Marshalls), they've yet to be approved by the city.
Outrageous. I mean, if they built a new one somewhere downtown, fine, but for a city with one of the major world film festivals, tearing down the Scotiabank theatre is insane.— Mark Collins (@MCollinsWrkShp) February 23, 2019
The ambitious scale of the new development also suggests it could be years before any design work is finalized, let alone construction plans.
"From what we understand any plans to redevelop the land would be very, very long-term," said Sarah Van Lange, Executive Director of Communications for Cineplex, when asked about the project.
RioCan CEO and founder Ed Sonshine said similarly that "nothing much will happen to the property for a long while."
"One day, the property will be redeveloped, but that is many, many years in the future," said Sonshine via email on Monday. "It is filled with successful tenants, including the Scotiabank Theatre, and a new steak house opening soon."
New Riocan project incorporates these historic facades for a third life as part of redevelopment including office uses, two towers, a smaller 8-screen theatre as well as a small park at the corner of Richmond & John designed by architect @HaririPontarini.— Mike CollinsWilliams (@mikejcw) February 23, 2019
Photos by @ProjectEND pic.twitter.com/OEZeLRKyg5
Documents presented at the public design unveiling last week show that Toronto's own award-winning Hariri Pontarini Architects (the project's lead architects) are planning a striking two-tower mixed-use complex.
Along with plenty of residential high-rise units, the new development as pitched right now will also include retail, office, daycare, amenity, theatre and even new public park space.
"I'm really impressed to be honest. They're really opening up the block," wrote one commenter in the forum thread. "Where I was expecting them to bulk the block up even further, they in fact have broken it down and made it more porous and open."
Some on Twitter may not agree, but perhaps they'll come around. Eventually.
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