General Synod office move takes shape

By on March 1, 1999

600 Jarvis st., home of the national church’s General synod offices since 1922, has been sold in a conditional deal to a Toronto developer. Two highrises are planned for the site. The Anglican Book Centre will keep its Jarvis Street presence, while the rest of General Synod will move to a building behind the old one, pictured above.

The three-storey brick building that is home to the national church offices, the Anglican Book Centre and Anglican Journal is expected to be replaced by twin spires – not church spires but 28- and 16-storey condominium and office towers.

Plans call for the General Synod offices to be located in the lower floors of the 16-storey tower at the end of Hayden Street, behind St. Paul’s and Church House.

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The Philmor Group of Toronto will pay $9 million for the 600 Jarvis Street property. St. Paul’s Church Bloor Street and General Synod, the property’s co-owners, will receive $5.35 million and $3.65 million respectively. St. Paul’s gets the larger share because of a complicated formula that takes historic air rights into consideration.

(Air rights are transferrable in Toronto. They allow owners of a building which is lower than the prescribed limit in an area to transfer the ‘unused’ storeys to an adjacent property.)

As part of a development package, Crown Life is also selling a small piece of land directly behind St. Paul’s Cody Hall. This involves a separate financial deal with the developer.

The sale is conditional on General Synod purchasing part of a condominium to be built by Philmor on Crown Life land on Hayden Street which runs west to Yonge Street at the rear of the existing church property. General Synod is to occupy the first four floors and basement. The higher floors are being considered for seniors rental units.

If the deal goes through, General Synod, including Anglican Journal, would move in to the new building before June 30, 2002.

Once that move is completed, a second 28-storey condominium would be built on the site of the current Jarvis Street offices.

Church House will still have a presence at 600 Jarvis St. as current plans are to locate the ABC bookstore in the new building on Jarvis.

The Toronto diocesan Trust Committee which oversees all property transactions has approved the sale but has yet to resolve how the money will be shared between St. Paul’s parish and the diocese under a diocesan sharing policy.

What was to become Church House started as a large private brick home with stone facing on what was then fashionable Jarvis Street. There have been many structural changes and additions over the years since it became the national church’s headquarters in 1922.

In 1991, as Toronto’s real estate market collapsed, a redevelopment plan that would have included a new national headquarters fell through when the developer and builder withdrew.

Michael McAteer is former religion editor for the Toronto Star and freelance writer based in Toronto.

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