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Sterling Road Landlord Offers Extended Rent Relief to Artist Tenants in Toronto

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Toronto developer Castlepoint Numa is providing rent relief for a group of artists in its unique Auto BLDG to help the tenants survive and get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

THE CASTLEPOINT NUMA RENT RELIEF WILL ALLOW AKIN ARTISTS TO CONTINUE TO WORK AMID COVID-19

The rent relief, which takes effect immediately, is increasing and extending support measures for Akin, Canada’s largest artist-run provider of shared studio space, to maintain the artist studio program for three years with rent-controlled relief. This commitment will allow over 20 artists per year to continue to work and flourish at the Auto BLDG, located at 158 Sterling Road.

In addition, Akin will launch a new series of free and pay-what-you-can community programs which will include open studio events, artist talks, family workshops, plus more when gathering restrictions are lifted.

“When the Auto BLDG at 158 Sterling Road opened its doors in 2018, Castlepoint Numa made a commitment to foster and support the creative community and during the COVID-19 crisis we are upping that commitment. Now more than ever, practising artists need support and places to create,” said Harley Valentine, Vice-President of Castlepoint Numa. “Akin is at the heart of the emerging artist community and we support their vision.”

Measures include a 75 percent reduction in monthly rent for the next three years from September 1 on and for rent that has already been paid during the period of March 1 to September 1, a credit has been applied to future months.

EXTERIOR OF AUTO BLDG IN TORONTO. PHOTO: BIANCA ROCO
CLICK FOR INTERACTIVE MAP OF 158 STERLING ROAD, TORONTO.

The 10-storey building is about 100,000 square feet and is a landmark building in Toronto being more than 100 years old. Valentine said the building is one of the first iterations of a concrete slab construction in Ontario. It was originally built by Alcan in 1919 for the manufacturing of aluminum.

“What’s unique about this landmark building is each of the 10 floors is addressed separately. We’ve got a retail tenant which is the Museum of Contemporary Art. They’ve got a cafe amenity on the first floor and bookstore and they occupy the first three floors of the building,” said Valentine. “Then we have our artist studio program which happens on the fourth floor. And on the fifth floor to the 10th floor, we’ve got a mix of high-end office.”

THE AKIN STUDIO PROGRAM WILL CONTINUE TO THRIVE AT THE AUTO BLDG THANKS TO RENT RELIEF PROGRAMS

The Auto BLDG is a heritage designated building in the City of Toronto. This landmark building was used as an aluminum foundry and manufacturing plant until its closure in 2006. Castlepoint Numa led the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Auto BLDG and today continues to be at the heart of the emerging mixed-use neighbourhood. The restored building opened its doors in 2018 and is currently home to a number of organizations in the creative sector, including Junction 59, Zeidler Architects, Fusion FX, Pride Toronto, Akin and Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto.

“We are all thrilled that the Akin Studio Program can continue on in a new iteration at the Auto BLDG at 158 Sterling Road thanks to the support of Castlepoint Numa,” said Oliver Pauk and Michael Vickers of Akin, in a statement. “This special program is a unique opportunity for artists, curators, and writers to have shared studio space in the building and be immersed within a community of peers. The support also allows us to engage the public through special events.”

In the Auto BLDG, 20 artists each have about 200 square feet of fixed studio space for 12 months.

“There’s various practices of painting and sculpture and textile and fashion design,” said Valentine.

“We’re offering a 75 percent reduction in rent for them and the 25 percent that they do pay over the course of COVID, we’ll re-issue that as a credit towards future community programming. Further we’re fixing their rent for the next three years at a below market rate.

“What’s unique about Akin, and it’s really been a focus of our group’s efforts, is these working artists have been hit hardest and in the neighbourhood that we exist in the lower Junction in the west end of Toronto there’s always been a strong history of makers and artist studios. And we want to double down on our participation and continuance of that tradition.

“What’s unique about this building, and we really pride ourselves on it, is the tenant mix and the ecosystem we’ve been able to cultivate. One of the reasons we’ve attracted the likes of Zeidler Architects and some of these other cutting-edge tech companies is that we support that diversity and we don’t want to turn our backs on what’s been able to set us apart in the retail and commercial market. And we’ve been known for it. I think during this downturn the successes property owners have been able to ride I think they’re in jeopardy of potentially losing that by losing some of the fundamental and principal defining qualities of their building. So it’s something we’re very cognizant of.”

Castlepoint Numa has also offered support and modified lease agreements to Toronto Biennial of Art, allowing them to continue to work uninterrupted as they plan for the next Toronto Biennial in 2021.

Valentine said Castlepoint Numa acquired the brownfield site in 2001 and has spent the last 20 years remediating, cleaning the site and rejuvenating the 100,000-square-foot office building top to bottom.

“Basically outfitting it to be a state-of-the-art, modern office building. Sandblasting every inch of concrete and re-delivering it as a landmark to a future master-planned development. And this will be forever sort of the heart of that neighbourhood.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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