Dineen Building Gets New Lease on Life with Modern Twist

Surrounded by the modern glass and steel buildings of Toronto’s downtown core, a late 19th century landmark is getting a 21st century update as upscale office space.

The long neglected, 115-year-old Dineen building at Yonge and Temperance Streets is undergoing a multi-million refurbishment inside and outside in preparation for its latest use as a site for permanent and virtual offices.

The Dineen building is intended to be the flagship and first iteration of iQ Office Suites’ concept, which blends 19th century charm and craftsmanship with modern necessities such as fibre optics and Wi-Fi access.

While the office suites concept is well established, iQ Office Suites believes it has a winning offering with its mix of private and semi-private office space featuring exposed brick, maple floors, 11-foot ceiling, windows that open and plenty of natural light in the heart of the financial district.

“It is the first of its kind in the core given that it is in a beautifully restored brick and beam building,” said Alex Sharpe, a co-founder of iQ Office Suites, along with his partner and co-founder Kane Willmott. “There is a lot of this sort of character space in the west end, the Allied (Property REIT)’s of the world have done a good job of creating a kind of platform to become a viable office model but there is really nothing like it in the core. Certainly nothing that gives the same sort of flexibility that we are going to give.”

IQ Office Suites at Yonge and Temperance Streets in Toronto

Before the multi-million dollar refurbishment

Professional Tenants Wanted

Sharpe expects a mix of professionals from architects and lawyers to technology companies to fill the building’s 35 offices. “It is really anybody who needs a high-quality office, fully furnished with all of your amenities. We have got an office manager who is full time, we have a full-time receptionist who is going to be working at the front desk, so all of your mail handling is taken care of.”

The iQ Office Suites founder expects the majority of the offices (which range from one-person to five-person spaces) will be for permanent offices with some common spaces left available for those seeking a virtual space.

“We have 11,000 square feet in the building,” said Sharpe. “With 35 offices that is a pretty small, boutique offering. We don’t anticipate that there is going to be a big challenge leasing that up.”

The management company has created three levels of tenants, a full private membership which provides users with their own strike card access and full-time office space, a private full-time membership which gives users access to a semi-private workspace and meeting lounge and a virtual use status which provides access to the shared lounge.

Restaurants Top and Bottom

The Dineen building’s three floors of business tenants will be sandwiched between a bistro, wine bar and historic-themed Starbucks on the ground floor and a rooftop restaurant with a grand view of Toronto’s financial district.

The lengthy construction process is expected to be finished in September with tenants starting to occupy space in October, said Sharpe.

A Owner who Cares About Heritage

The Dineen building was constructed in 1897 as the head office and showroom of furrier and hatmaker W. and F. Dineen Co., back when the area was a retail destination. The building was purchased last year by Toronto developer Clayton Smith for $7 million according to the National Post and the investor in heritage real estate and sunk millions more into the 140 Yonge St. address to reverse decades of neglect and upgrade it for modern tenant requirements.

Last December, Smith’s Commercial Realty Group purchased the landmark Flatiron Building located at 49 Wellington Street East in downtown Toronto for $15.3 million, or $797 per square foot, for the building. The five-storey, triangular sandstone was built in 1892 by architect David Roberts Jr. for George Gooderham, former president of the Bank of Toronto and owner of Gooderham and Worts distillery, at the time one of Canada’s wealthiest men.

The 19,000-sq. ft.-plus Flatiron is the flagship of Smith’s heritage building portfolio in the city which to date totals six buildings.

“He has a pretty good track record of buying these older style heritage buildings and retrofitting them into more modern space,” said Sharpe.

Paul is a writer, editor and media trainer based in Toronto with over 25 years of experience as a business reporter. He has written for Canada’s major news services on…

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Paul is a writer, editor and media trainer based in Toronto with over 25 years of experience as a business reporter. He has written for Canada’s major news services on…

Read more

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