Historic building to become a Rexall
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.