Setting Up Shop at Old City Hall?
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Setting Up Shop at Old City Hall?

A City-contracted real estate brokerage firm thinks that Old City Hall might be best reincarnated as a shopping mall.

Photo by mandalaybus from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by mandalaybus from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

A cute little shopping mall might be opening up at this old building downtown. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Old City Hall?

While converting the 116-year-old heritage edifice into a retail complex a block away from the city’s most iconic pre-existing mall might seem like an idea to be filed under “Big Tacky Mistakes” and maybe set on fire, the City is entertaining the possibility. More accurately, the brokerage firm Avison Young has proposed this as a possibility and instead of responding with a resounding peal of LOLs, the City is looking into the matter at a Government Management Committee meeting next week.

Interestingly, the Old City Hall-to-mall recommendation comes at a time when the opposite is being done south of the border. The past few years have seen dozens of old American shopping malls converted into things that are, well, not-malls. In the ongoing aftermath of the Great Recession, the nearly 200-year-old Westminster Arcade in Providence, Rhode Island–the country’s first indoor shopping mall–was turned into a micro-apartment complex. Across that country, other landmark malls have been reincarnated as office buildings, university campus extensions, public park space, and even a relocated city hall. What might distinguish the proposed Old City Hall mall from these fallen retail hubs is its proposed boutique setting, where tenants could be curated according to an agreed-upon theme. (A few of the proposed themes for the mall include “international trade,” “post-secondary education” and “finance,” in case you weren’t already flinging your wallet in the building’s general direction.)

Avison Young’s report also recommends that the Old City Hall building’s existing lease between the City and the Province be extended for an additional five-year term so as not to disturb the existing provincial courts housed within—at least, not until a new court building is completed, no later than the end of 2021.

In sum, this is a great idea. Take all of our money, Office Space Old City Hall Mall. We don’t need it anymore.