It looks like the legendary music venue won't be turning into a fitness club or boutique hotel after all.
In March, the El Mocambo was put on the market for $3.95 million, and in September, co-owner Sam Grosso indicated that the legendary music venue at Spadina and College had been conditionally sold and was scheduled to close in November. At the time, it was unclear what the new owners might have in store for the space—perhaps retail or residential units—and it seemed the venue’s history of hosting historic shows might finally have reached its end.
But CityNews is reporting that a new owner has now put down a deposit, and that they intend to renovate the space and keep it going as a venue for live music. The first floor will accommodate 500 people and the second floor 700. The music-loving buyer appears to be none other than Michael Wekerle—you may not recognize that name right off the bat, but his face is certainly familiar to many Canadian TV viewers: he’s a regular on the CBC’s Dragons’ Den. The purchase should be finalized in the middle of January 2015—and tonight, Werkerle will be given the keys to the building on stage at a benefit concert.
The property has changed hands a number of times in the past decade. Current owners Sam Grosso (owner of the Cadillac Lounge) and Marco Petrucci (owner of 99 Sudbury) bought the El Mo for $2.95 million in 2012, but dreams of transforming it into a newly reenergized music destination were stymied by financial challenges.
This month, Grosso put the iconic El Mo sign on eBay for auction—bids reached $15,000 before he took it down in the wake of public outcry. “Everybody wants to know about this fucking sign,” Grosso sighed in an interview last week. “If people cared as much about the business as the sign, we wouldn’t have a problem with the sign.”
No word yet on when the venue will be open for business again—or on the fate of its sign. But it seems that, notwithstanding Royal LePage’s recommendations—it could be “great for student housing, fitness club [or a] boutique hotel”—the El Mo will rise again as a music destination.
This post has been updated with information about the El Mocambo’s buyer.