14 December 2001
[ACC Canada] The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada today announced the completion of the sale of its property in Toronto as part of a five-year plan, first announced in 1998, to provide new headquarters for the church's national office.
The General Synod office site, located at 600 Jarvis Street, will be redeveloped by a Toronto-based property company into a mixed-use residential and office complex in two phases, with completion of Phase I, a 17-storey tower, projected for Fall 2003. The national office of Canada's third-largest religious denomination will remain in its current building until the first phase is completed, after which the present three-storey brick building will be demolished and the offices moved to four floors of the adjacent new facility, located on nearby Hayden Street.
"We are pleased to have this unique opportunity to bring our facilities up-to-date", said James Cullen, treasurer of General Synod. "Our existing property was acquired in 1922 and has been added to several times over the years. The last major upgrade was in 1962 and the property is now in need of major repairs. The renovations to bring the facilities to modern standards for nearly 100 employees would cost considerably more than to rebuild under this plan."
The General Synod property is part of a small parcel of desirable midtown Toronto land with interlocking ownership by three parties: 1) General Synod, 2) St. Paul's Anglican Church and 3) Crown Life Insurance. Sale price for the property - disclosed in January 1999 when the deal was signed - is $9 million, with General Synod netting $3.65 million. These funds are committed to purchase a 40,000 square-foot office and retail facility when Phase I of the new development is completed. The agreement also provides for General Synod to relocate its Anglican Book Centre to the Phase II building on Jarvis Street. Until completion of Phase I, General Synod will hold in escrow an irrevocable letter of credit. Purchaser of the land and developer of the new complex is Philmor Group Ltd., a Toronto developer with a successful track record of residential and mixed-use projects.
Earlier this year, church officials predicted the General Synod could run out of liquid assets and be forced to wind down by the end of 2001. This pessimistic scenario was based on the huge financial drain - so far nearing $5 million and continuing at a rate of more than $1 million a year - caused by residential schools litigation.
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of Synod, said this week the forecast of insolvency for the Anglican national church has now been pushed back into 2002. The reason, he said, is a slowdown in the rate of payments required from earlier lawsuits and a small increase in voluntary donations to the church during the current year. The church now has enough cash flow - barring unexpected, new developments in the settlement of claims - to continue operations through 2002.
"The outcome of the residential schools matter is far from resolved. We still have a long way to go to reach an agreement on a just and fair settlement process with the federal government," Archdeacon Boyles said. "In spite of this uncertainty, it is in everyone's best interest that our church continue to plan for the future. We believe the Church House redevelopment project represents an important vision of hope that we will be here to continue our work for years to come."