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The Globe and Mail

Developer donates land for Massey Hall expansion

Massey Hall will be getting a little more room to breathe with a land donation from Toronto's MOD Developments Inc.

The development firm recently purchased Massey Hall's neighbour, the historic Canadian Bank of Commerce Building, and will be donating a 4,804 square-foot section of land to the concert hall.

"We're just thrilled," Charles Cutts, president and CEO of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, said. He said Massey Hall is in much need of expansion and the land donation will give them the space to do it.

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"The hall's had three major renovations in its 118-year history. We had commissioned a study even as recently as a year ago with a noted international theatre planner. But at that point in time, we didn't have the option of additional land."

Mr. Cutts said they're looking at lots of options to improve the space and are planning to work in unison with MOD, in order to make the most of the new land. As an historic building, Massey Hall leaves some things to be desired as far as modern concert hall amenities, he said.

"Everything from heating and cooling plants to a new roof," he said. "If we can add some space and add what are called patron amenities, and that's everything from bars to washrooms: things people take for granted in modern concert halls or buildings that were simply not available in the old 1894 Massey Hall."

The newly-purchased Canadian Bank of Commerce Building at 197-201 Yonge Street has been vacant since 1987. MOD plans to restore the four-storey building and construct a new 60-storey development behind the historic bank. The new development will be named Massey Tower in an additional tip of the hat to their neighbour.

"I think that's wonderful," said Mr. Cutts. "It's a nice tribute to Massey Hall, to the Massey family who built the original hall, and an indication that Massey Hall still has significant relevance today and in the future, as it has in the past."

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