Someone paid $2.9 million for the Metro Theatre
The Metro Theatre, near Bloor and Christie, closed late last year, ending its 35-year run as Toronto’s most prominent (and eventually, last remaining) porno theatre. Its co-owner, Karim Hirji, had been trying to sell it for years, and had listed the building for $3.59 million as recently as 2011. Now we know it ultimately didn’t fetch quite that price.
Property records show that the building sold quietly in August 2013, a few months before the theatre officially shut down for good. The buyer was a numbered company represented by a woman named Saroj Jain, who couldn’t be reached for comment. The sale price? $2.9 million—which, while not quite equal to the original asking price, is still a nice sum for a 75-year-old building in need of major fixing up. And, as a matter of fact, the new owner already has some fixes in the works.
On May 21, the numbered company applied to the city for a minor zoning variance that would allow it to gut the interior of the theatre, creating two commercial spaces: a large rec-hall area where the theatre used to be, and a smaller retail storefront facing Bloor Street. The plans call for the building’s facade to be left essentially as-is, although minus the 1970s-era porn posters that have goggled the eyes of neighbourhood youngsters for a generation. The street-level frontage would be replaced with plate glass.
It’s not clear what’s planned for the retail space, but one person close to the project confirms that the large rec hall is intended to house a fitness centre. And so the theatre’s days as a temple of thrusting, gyrating flesh probably aren’t quite over yet.
The city’s committee of adjustment is expected to consider the building’s zoning variance at a meeting on July 23.
For the curious, here are a couple architectural drawings of the proposed renovation:
CORRECTION: This article originally said that Saroj Jain is a director of the numbered company that purchased the Metro Theatre. In fact, she says she’s an agent of the company.