Massey Hall’s multi-year facelift is becoming the anchor of a major Toronto music complex, under a new investment from a local developer.
Allied Properties says it has struck an agreement to make the historic concert space the focal point for Allied Music Centre, a seven-storey tower adjacent to the venue at Shuter and Victoria streets.
The urban office developer emphasized that Massey Hall will retain its name, while multiple new concert stages and workspaces will be housed in the accompanying tower.
Among them is an unnamed “intimate” sixth-floor venue designed for smaller live events of up to 100 seated audience members, and a 500-person capacity club with a sightline to the city on the fourth floor.
There’s also a recording studio, wired to every stage in the centre, that can double as a classroom for musicians, and a basement bar and small performance space.
Massey Hall representatives said the deal amounts to a $21 million contribution over 16 years.
The venue, which opened in 1894 as a choral music venue, is considered a jewel of Toronto’s music history and has hosted the likes of Glenn Gould, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young, who famously recorded his “Live at Massey Hall 1971” album in the space.
The building closed in 2018 to undergo a massive “revitalization” project that redesigned the interior, restored its stained glass windows, and will introduce new features, such as removable seating that opens the main floor to standing room.
The revitalization project is valued at $180 million.
The venue will also be fitted with technology for live broadcast and streaming shows, similar to what investor Michael Wekerle introduced at his recently reopened El Mocambo club across the downtown core.
Toronto’s live music scene is in the midst of a devastating year that’s seen a number of popular venues go out of business due to COVID-19.
Roughly a dozen live spaces have permanently shut down in recent months, including the Mod Club and Round Venue, while other owners have sounded a warning they could face a similar fate as the pandemic stretches on.
The Canadian Live Music Association launched a survey in May that suggested 97 per cent of the 177 venues that responded as at risk of business failure.
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