His­toric build­ing to be­come a Rex­all

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - NEWS - David Hains Metro | toronto

It’s been a Yid­dish play­house, the site of riot over a me­mo­rial for Lenin, and a con­tro­ver­sial bur­lesque house. Now the his­toric site at the north­east cor­ner of Spad­ina Av­enue and Dundas Street West will be­come a Rex­all Pharma Plus.

Rex­all spokesper­son Derek Tu­pling said the com­pany has “a strong track record when it comes to lo­cal her­itage build­ings,” cit­ing the re­cent re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Brunswick House.

The com­pany has al­ready posted jobs for its new lo­ca­tion. Tu­pling was un­able to give a time­line on the site, but de­scribed it as be­ing in early stages.

Rex­all will only take the ground floor, which is about 7,000 square feet. The com­pany is also look­ing at repli­cat­ing ex­te­rior sig­nage for what used to be a phar­macy on-site, and in recog­ni­tion of Chi­na­town, will in­stall their first bilin­gual signs in English and tra­di­tional Chi­nese.

The three-storey build­ing was most re­cently a Royal Bank, but through­out its 95-year his­tory it has also been a fa­mous theatre and con­cert venue.

It first opened to great en­thu­si­asm in Au­gust 1922 as the Stan­dard Theatre. De­signed by the pro­lific ar­chi­tect Ben­jamin Brown, the theatre quickly be­came a cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal hotspot for Toronto’s bur­geon­ing sec­u­lar Jewish com­mu­nity.

It earned her­itage des­ig­na­tion in 2007 for its “ab­stracted clas­si­cal de­tail­ing” and gen­eral cul­tural value, ac­cord­ing to the city.

Kaitlin Wain­wright of Her­itage Toronto says she would like the build­ing’s com­mu­nity-based roots to con­tinue.

“I would hope that part of this ren­o­va­tion is cre­at­ing a space where the com­mu­nity not only goes for goods and ser­vices, but also where they see them­selves re­flected,” she said.

Wain­wright says this unique po­si­tion means chain stores have a civic re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“The pri­vate sec­tor ab­so­lutely has a role to play” when it comes to her­itage con­ser­va­tion, she says.

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