University spends $40M to buy four downtown properties



Aaron Lynett/Torstar News Service


Ryerson president Sheldon Levy stands in front of the old Sam The Record Man storefront, one of the university’s newly acquired buildings on Yonge Street. Ryerson will announce today it has bought four new properties, including the old Sam The Record Man building.


Sheldon Levy has big dreams for his university — and his city.

The Ryerson University president sees a day when students and city residents alike will stroll through the Yonge Street entrance of his school onto a pedestrian mall running through the heart Canada’s most urban campus. Perhaps they’ll visit the new gallery housing a renowned photography collection or pause to read a book or catch some rays on the grass of a city park few now even know exists.

While Levy’s vision for revitalization, which is taking shape in a 20-year master plan introduced 14 months ago, remains a long way from completion, it takes a big step forward today with the announcement Ryerson has spent $40 million to buy four properties, including a pair giving it a presence on Yonge Street. It’s a move that also has a much more immediate impact — giving the university much-needed room to grow.

The focus at Ryerson, which has 24,000 students, is developing the two Yonge Stret sites of former music store rivals Sam The Record Man and A & A Records for today’s students. But the other two sites now added to its campus holdings will no doubt soon be put to use.

Ontario university application numbers, which are to be released today, are expected to show once again the growth in demand for spots in Ryerson’s freshman class is well above the provincial average, which is up 4.8 per cent from last year.

Ryerson asked Queen’s Park last summer to expropriate Sam’s after talks with the Sniderman family soured. But that move was not necessary as the two sides negotiated a deal not only for the former flagship record store but the two other family properties on campus.

"We made these moves now because the property is available now," Levy said. "If we didn’t, they might be gone for another 100 years. Timing is everything."

Ryerson’s first order of business is to develop the former record store sites.

heritage maintained

  • Ryerson, which has pledged to maintain the heritage of Sam’s sign in some form, will keep the bottom floor or two as retail space. Rents will cover about $10 million worth of the mortgage on the property.