There are two vacant bank buildings on Yonge across from the Eaton Centre. They’ve languished in disuse for years. Will they ever be occupied?—Douglas McTaggart, Cabbagetown
The future of old buildings in this city is never a certainty, but things are looking up for these two old-timers. Along with a third historic bank at the northeast corner of Yonge and Queen, they were bought up by the city in the late ’80s in anticipation of a big revitalization project. When it failed to materialize, the city sold the buildings off. The Bank of Montreal at the corner was eventually gutted and its façade incorporated into the Maritime Life Tower, which opened in 2004. Up the road, the old Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was sold to Parasuco Jeans in 1999. The company says it’s planning a flagship store and further development on the site, although dates have not yet been finalized. Don’t be surprised if it gets swallowed by a new tower, too. As for the third building, the domed former Bank of Toronto branch, the city’s own heritage department used it between 1992 and 2001. (You’ll see it’s been renovated for wheelchair access, a rarity in the 19th century.) Since then, it has disappeared under piles of pigeon droppings. But in late 2006, a visiting Irish businessman passed the edifice early one morning and fell in love. With a partner, he bought it, hoisted the Irish flag above the door and began looking for tenants. This fall, negotiations were under way with a prospective occupant; if all goes well, a piece of Toronto’s history could stay intact for another day.