Seven years after making its first offer for the building, condo developer Streetcar Developments has successfully bought the Broadview Hotel in Toronto’s east end, a property that’s better known as the location of Jilly’s strip club.
It’s a fixer upper. But it’s also likely to go to the city’s preservation board for a heritage property designation in the next month.
“We’ve been admiring the building since we’ve been in the business, since 2002,” said Les Mallins, the president of Streetcar Developments, a Toronto-based condo developer. “The first time we put an offer in was 2007, the second time was around 2010.”
But at both those times, the tenants still had some time to go on their lease (they had just renewed when Streetcar made its second approach). Ironically, Mr. Mallins spotted his opportunity to finally buy the property last year when he heard that a part of the building was essentially crumbling.
“A couple of structural columns failed, and they had to send engineers and disaster recovery people in on an emergency basis to shore up and repair the building, and that’s been done only on a temporary basis, it’s good for a three to six month period,” he said. “Permanent structural repairs need to occur.”
Sections of a wall had been removed in the past but not reinforced properly, and over time the masonry had loosened, Mr. Mallins said. “One day I was talking to the guy who operates the facility, he was standing there and there was literally bricks popping out of this thing,” he said.
Last month, the owners called Mr. Mallins and told him about the situation, and said they would now consider selling so that the building, built in 1893, could be repaired.
“We’ve spent the last 30 days in due diligence, and at the end of it we decided that we would proceed,” Mr. Mallins said, declining to reveal the price.
He said the location will not become condos, although Streetcar doesn’t have exact plans for it yet.
“It’s not seen as a condo project,” he said. “A building that’s so important and significant to the city but more so to the neighbourhood really should have some sort of public use.”
He cited a boutique hotel as a possibility. “It’s not a redevelopment site. There’s no plans to do anything major to it,” he said. Rather it will be fixed and restored. “We’ll talk to potential partners or organizations that have concepts that might work and see where it goes.”
Area councillor Paula Fletcher said she hopes the sale will give the building a new life and some badly needed repairs.
“It’s probably the most significant building on Queen Street east of the river,” she said. “It’s important someone has taken it over to nurse it back to health.”