After months on the market, Toronto's historic Masonic Temple has a new owner.
Earlier this year, after Bell Media quietly put Toronto’s Masonic Temple up for sale, the big question was what might become of the historic, 95-year-old building. Now we know that it won’t be following the rest of Toronto to a condo-y fate (at least, not for the time being): earlier this morning a company called Info-Tech Research Group announced that it has bought the property to use as an office.
Info-Tech is an information technology research and consulting firm with more than 300 employees. Currently, its head office is in London, Ontario, and it has a satellite office in Toronto. The plan is for the company to continue using the London office and move its Toronto operations into the temple.
CTV bought the building in 1998 for $2.4 million (it fell into Bell’s hands during a later corporate takeover). Joel McLean, Info-Tech’s president and CEO, says his company paid more than five times that much: $12.5 million. “I think it’s a fair price for the property in today’s market,” he said.
According to McLean, Info-Tech has no immediate plans to develop the site. “You buy it to accent and show off all the great history and heritage,” he said. “Not to turn it into condos.” But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of some kind of expansion at some point in the future.
Though the company will be renovating the interior of the temple, the outside should stay more or less as-is. “We’re going to open up a few of the windows that got blocked in by MTV and CTV,” said McLean. “Other than that, fundamentally we’ll keep all the heritage elements.” The building is heritage designated, so there are legal obstacles to altering its appearance.
Info-Tech plans to keep the building’s concert hall intact, so it can be used for a once-annual black-tie charity concert. For the rest of the year, it’ll be used as office space for consultants and analysts.
Located near the intersection of Yonge Street and Davenport Road, the Masonic Temple was built in 1918. It was used by actual Freemasons for many decades before mounting debt forced its owners to lease it out as a concert venue, and then later sell it to developers, who then sold it to CTV. The temple was most recently used as offices for MTV Canada, and as a performance space.
Info-Tech is hoping to move in within three or four months.