In 1990 the site was designated as a heritage building. Working to make sure features of the historical site will be front and center of the modern planned 60 storey Massey Tower.
Michael McClelland and Andrew Pruss of E.R.A. were at the site today to detail what their firm is up to with the 197 Yonge property. Past the construction barriers the beauty of the former Edwardian style bank is being restored as the front of a towering condo development.
McClelland and Pruss both agree that this project has some serious challenges. They hope that some of the space in the historical section of the Massey Tower will be dedicated to the arts with areas for musical practice. The final details have yet to be drummed out but in the future the building will be giving back to the community in some fashion.
One issue has been parking. The back of the building now is a maze of parking areas for local theatres and businesses. The first floor of the tower will be a throughway that will be used by those establishments and the towers. Parking for the towers will be on the second to eighth floors being used for parking with car elevators in place.
"It will be very Jettison like!" said McClelland.
The original building is four storeys. It has set vacant for over two decades, home to a few squatters before 1997 and some rodents. The rodents have been removed using humane methods. There are rumors that two escaped without their tails and can be seen at night scurrying around the back streets winked John Doran of Acanthus Heritage Plastering Inc. who's detailed crafting is restoring much of the historical remnants of the building.
Under layers of wooden flooring tiles have been discovered that a century again was the pathway to bank tellers. The Canadian Bank of Commerce was an active part of Toronto in it's day, located across from Eaton's Department Store. Shoppers and merchants would rush into the bank every day. Bank vaults are still in place on all four floors of the building and in the basement.
In the front room was the office of the bank manager. Mr. Doran has recently discovered that some of the boards that would have been directly behind the manager's desk are not the same as the other flooring. What is under those boards is still unknown.
Built with limestone the building is still sound despite heavy water damage. In its heyday there were skylights that were replaced by boards. Even with the water damage mold has not been a problem because of the plaster used.
The rich history of the building includes a bank robbery where a gunman fired his firearm at the ceiling. Above stood a dentist working on a patient who watched as a bullet exploded from the floor between his legs.
In 1997 a group of people took to the second floor of the vacant building proclaiming it the Sex Room. Their times are documented on the walls and doors.
As in many older buildings there are times that you can feel as if you're not alone. Doran said that he had captured a purple orb on his phone's camera recently. Photographer Shane Mullins captured the small orb when taking a photograph of the area. It may be the lighting of the area or perhaps the spirit of a banker wanting to make sure that his space is protected.
Doran also said that on a recent night when he was working alone in the building scaffolding was moved in the area he has set up for his changing room and the door to the area was shut. It should be noted that this area has no drafts.
Next month the presentation and sales office will be opened to the public on the first floor. The condo tower is expected to be ready for occupants in three years.