The iconic Sam the Record Man sign may never shine again.
A new agreement between Ryerson University and the City of Toronto says that the university will not be required to remount the sign on a student learning centre it built on the site of the famous record shop.
Ryerson, which bought the site in 2008, agreed to remount the sign but soon identified several concerns, according to a city report. Those concerns include the risk of mercury spillage if the sign was to break or if there was a fire, a decrease in the number of qualified neon sign professionals, and maintenance costs.
The architects of the new student centre also concluded that mounting the sign was in conflict with the design of the new building and could potentially distract people inside.
If city council approves the new agreement, Ryerson will instead be obligated to come up with a “commemoration strategy.” According to the city report, Ryerson has already proposed installing a “commemorative insert” in the Yonge Street sidewalk where the store once stood, including an image of the storefront signage “with commemorative text and inserts representing the sign’s lettering and discs.”
The strategy also proposes launching an online recognition and tribute to “Music on Yonge – celebrating 70 years of Sam’s.”
The sign had been out of the public eye when Ryerson began demolishing the store, but after a local campaign, the city designated the building as a protected heritage site as a way to save the sign.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy had committed to mounting the sign on the student learning centre, but as early as 2011 plans for the site did not include remounting the sign.
According to the new agreement, Ryerson will continue to store the neon sign for at least two more years while other “preservation opportunities are explored.”