TCHC board delays vote on office rental, $2-million reno
The board of Toronto Community Housing Corporation has delayed a vote on leasing extra office space and renovating its existing headquarters.
The issue will be addressed again at its December meeting.
Greg Spearn, TCHC's Vice President and Chief Development officer told the board Thursday the corporation was suffering from a "chronic space problem".
Right now, 230 TCHC employees are working in 44,000 sq ft at their Rosedale headquarters. Spearn says a lack of space has forced teams to split up and there isn't enough room to properly serve tenants.
Spearn is pushing a plan to lease 25, 500 sq ft of office space in a complex near Bay St and College St and re-work the existing floor plan of their home on Yonge St. The renovation would include new paint, carpets, toilets and light fixtures.
Renovations to the TCHC's Yonge St building and buying more streamlined furniture for both spaces are projected to cost $2-million. The expected rental cost hasn't been made public.
Councillor Frances Nunziata asked Spearn to consider using already open space in city-owned facilities like City Hall or Metro Hall, rather than rent.
But Spearn says "the city was canvassed for available space...and we were told, they have none".
"We have plenty of space" scoffed councillor Cesar Palacio, pointing to committee rooms at City Hall as possible venues for meetings and training sessions.
He also questioned why TCHC, which has a capital repair backlog of $751-million, is focusing on rentals in the expensive core.
777 Bay St was chosen as an ideal rental space because of its proximity to both TCHC's existing HQ and City Hall.
Spearn says keeping the TCHC building at 931 Yonge St rather than buying a new one will keep the corporation from taking on debt. Familiarity matters too.
"Our residents identify with the building, they know where it is. And what we've found is that they're more comfortable walking in the front door of our building instead of looking for a space on the 15th floor of an office building somewhere", explained Spearn.
TCHC's plan is to keep resident services, asset management and the offices of the COO and CEO on Yonge St. Departments like finance, legal, human resources, office services and real estate development would move to Bay St.