Stage Door News
Toronto: Mirvish to demolish CAA Theatre to make way for 76-storey tower
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
A downtown Toronto theatre built more than a century ago has been slated for demolition.
Mirvish’s CAA Theatre, located at 651 Yonge St., is among a number of businesses along the Yonge Corridor is set to be demolished and redeveloped into a 76-storey mixed-use tower in the coming years.
Abraham Plunkett-Latimer, a community planner for Toronto and East York with the city, confirmed to CTV News Toronto Monday that the city is reviewing an application to demolish the interior of the theatre, while retaining the front facade, to make way for the new development.
The new tower will include a "community cultural centre," the city says, along with 53,988 square metres of residential space and 678 dwelling units, if approved.
“The intention is not to retain the theatre, but instead to create a community cultural space to contribute to the cultural life of the community,” Plunkett-Latimer said in a written statement, adding that “the applicant [is] still exploring the specifics of what that cultural space would entail.”
The process is still in the early stages, however. Plunkett-Latimer said it could be anywhere from under a year to more than two years to complete the process and see the theatre demolished.
When reached for comment, Mirvish spokesperson John Karastamatis told CTV News Toronto that the CAA Theatre will examine its options when the time comes, but that they believe that won’t be for many years.
“For the foreseeable future, the CAA Theatre will continue to offer performances of a variety of theatrical works,” Karastamatis said. “While everyone will be sad to see the theatre closing permanently, it will be many years before that happens.”
Plunkett-Latimer said, at this point, the application is in the “official plan and amendment rezoning stage,” where it is reviewed by city staff, after which the applicant will have the opportunity to respond to staff comments.
If city staff are satisfied with the response, Plunkett-Latimer said a recommendation report would then go to city council for approval of the official plan amendment and rezoning.
The property and proposed development are also subject to a site plan control application. “This is a separate process that is typically resolved after rezoning is complete,” Plunkett-Latimer said.
A community consultation meeting was held on Feb. 1, and a statutory public meeting will be held when the recommendation report is presented to council. At this time, members of the public may provide feedback to the council directly.
The theatre was initially built as a private residence in 1911 before the first of many theatres would occupy the space. In 1919, the property became ‘The Victory,’ which showed motion pictures for 74 years before being renovated, renamed “The New Yorker Theatre,” and began to host live theatre performances.
In 2005, the interior was rebuilt into a 700-seat live theatre and concert venue. Three years later, it was purchased by Mirvish Productions. In 2018, it was renamed the CAA Theatre.
While Mirvish said it was mourning the closure of the theatre, the new development is part of a “decades-long renewal project” in the Yonge Street corridor that will “change the neighbourhood in fundamental ways.”
“Unfortunately, this renewal has meant and will continue to mean the loss of some buildings and businesses that have always been part of the community,” Karastamatis said.
“However, this is part and parcel of change, which has been and will always be part of human life. All any of us can do is the best we can under the circumstances and continue to build towards a brighter and better future.”
The CAA Theatre is the smallest of four venues owned and operated by Mirvish Productions, including the Royal Alexandra, the Princess of Wales and the CAA Ed Mirvish.
In 2012, the Princess of Wales was also slated for demolition, but the plan was later revised to spare the 2000-seat theatre.
By Abby O’Brien for www.ctvnews.ca.
See also www.torontojourney416.com.
Photo: The CAA Theatre, © 2021; The Embassy Theatre at 651-652 Yonge Street, © 1937.