The historic Dominion Public Building, a Toronto landmark located at 1 Front St. W., was sold for $275.1 million to the Vancouver-based Larco Investments Ltd., a real estate firm.
The Canada Lands Company, which manages redevelopment and acquires and sells surplus federal buildings, put the building up for sale in January. At the time, real estate developer Brad Lamb guessed that any purchase would involve major redevelopment, rather than using the building as-is.
Any plans for redevelopment, however, would need to be approved by the government as the building is listed on Toronto’s Heritage registry, and is part of the Union Station Heritage Conservation district.
The neoclassical style Beaux Arts building’s construction was proposed in 1913 when a new Customs House was recommended to handle the city’s rapid expansion. However, construction was delayed until 1929. It took six years to complete over a period of two construction phases and was unveiled in 1935. The architecture was designed by Thomas W. Fuller and James Henry Craig.
The building was in the hands of the federal government until it was sold Jan. 3 to CLC for an undisclosed price. The five-story building is over 33,500 square meters and just over three-quarter acres of property. It served as a customs clearing house for years and storage for Toronto movers. Today, it is currently being used primarily by the Canada Revenue Agency. 1,500 federal employees work in the building. According to the federal government, employees will be moved out by 2021.
The building is zoned for commercial use and developers can construct a tower up to 137 meters tall, making it attractive for mega-development, Lamb said.
The company that acquired the building, Larco Investments, were behind the controversial redesign of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel. Owned by the Lalji family, the company currently holds retail, residential, industrial and hotel properties. A proposed redesign for the Chateau last year earned widespread criticism. One social media user described it as “the ugliest building downtown,” according to The Star.
Media questions about development plan for the building were directed to Larco Investments, who reportedly did not respond to requests for information about the company’s plans for the building. Lanterra Group CEO Barry Fenton said the building could function as a commercial, residential or hotel property, according to The Star.