Beautiful and historic century-old Toronto office building to be sold

Increasingly, historic and antiquated structures are making way for larger developments, often condominiums. The next victim of this trend is a historic building nestled in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.

The building at 720 Bathurst St. has recently been put up for sale by its owner, The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), which broke the news this week. CSI, a company that sets up co-working environments similar to WeWork, states that this move comes as a response to people spending less time in-office and more time working remotely.

CSI said it will be consolidating operations at its 192 Spadina Ave. location.

“We know that many of us are deeply connected to CSI Annex. Its vibrant community, shabby chic warmth and its overall vibe is really just too beautiful to imagine losing. It was the baby that the first Community Bonds bought – it is deep in our hearts,” read a CSI statement. “We know that you will be sad. We are too! But we hope that you can see that this decision enables CSI to be stronger and more focused on supporting you to make the world better and encourage you to continue to be with us for the many years ahead.”

Don’t expect the move to be soon however, as the organization stated it will likely take between 12 and 18 months to complete the move and that operations at 720 Bathurst St. won’t cease until at least 2025. 

According to CSI’s Anthony Westenberg, the price will be determined moving forward.

“Regarding price, it’s a unique space, so we invite the development community to come and take a look and make their own comparables,” he explained. “Additionally, in our listing we indicate that we are looking for other social purpose user groups that need a gorgeous and brilliantly located building, social impact investors with a vision or a progressive developer who has a vision to transform it.”

Interior of Centre for Social Innovation office

In terms of timing for the sale, Westenberg said the group is planning for early next year.

“We are sharing all the information with the development community and the land trust/social purpose community so that they can share with CSI their expressions of interest early in the new year,” he added.

According to CSI, the decision was not brought on by financial difficulties, which has been the case with similar companies such as WeWork.

“Don’t worry. We are good,” CSI wrote in a statement. “(CSI is) in a stable position financially, but interest rates, inflation and work from home have changed the real estate landscape, and we want to be proactive in how we are addressing these changes.”

CSI also addressed concerns from those clients who actively use the space in The Annex stating that “this is not a notice to leave,” and that it should be seen as the company being transparent with its user base.