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New home eyed for social mission groups

She’s literally doing cartwheels inside an old building on Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor, that will become the second home of the Centre for Social Innovation if Toronto city council signs off on a $4.8-million loan guarantee this week.

Tonya Surman is giddy with excitement.

She’s literally doing cartwheels inside an old building on Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor, that will become the second home of the Centre for Social Innovation if Toronto city council signs off on a $4.8-million loan guarantee this week.

Surman is executive director of the centre, where small businesses and organizations — all engaged in work with a public purpose — share space in an old plumbing factory on Spadina Avenue.

First opened in 2004, they are now bursting at the seams with 200 social mission groups using space on two floors. Groups pay rent and in return they get access to office equipment, Internet and someone who can sign for packages.

The model has been so successful that Surman has been on the lookout for another site, which led to the discovery of 720 Bathurst St., a five-storey building with a $4.5-million price tag plus another $2.3 million in renovations.

She has cobbled together a payment solution that includes a $4.8-million mortgage, thanks to a loan guarantee from the city, plus $1.7 million from issuing RRSP-eligible bonds.

Council will vote on whether to approve the loan guarantee tomorrow. If approved, the deal will close May 18.

 
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