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Bloor McDonald’s location shuttered

Site of iconic restaurant once graced by Ashlee Simpson sold to financiers to develop condominiums
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On January 6, 2013, without much notice,  the McDonald’s at 192a Bloor St. W. closed permanently, leaving U of T students both confused and hungry.

A favourite spot for U of T students looking for a quick bite between classes, or at least a bit of food to offset the effects of late-night partying, the McDonald’s will surely be missed as it is torn to down to make way for a new condo development.

From 1960 to March 2008,
McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. leased the site from the City of Toronto,  paying rent of just $1,250 per month for most of that period. The rent was to be renegotiated in 2004, with the city proposing to increase it to $16,250. McDonald’s countered with an offer to buy the property for $3.38 million.

Eventually, and controversially, city council voted, in 2008, to accept McDonald’s tender. The value of the land on which the corporate-owned location sat — the building itself was owned by McDonald’s — was estimated by some to be considerably higher, between $7 and $9 million, but the encumbrance of a 99-year lease made it less attractive to any other purchaser.

The land was in turn sold to a consortium led by Bazis International Inc., a developer based in Canada, but financed from Kazakhstan, also responsible for the now defunct 1 Bloor St. E. condominium tower, a 78-storey luxury development, the vacant site for which will eventually serve as the location of a considerably less ambitious project. Bazis has also participated in the construction of Astana, the ostentatious artificial city decreed Kazakhstan’s new capital in 1997.

High fences and hoardings have been erected around the old McDonald’s, but the derelict former hamburger restaurant is still visible.

Barring complications, 192a Bloor and adjacent lots will become home to the Exhibit Residences, a 28-storey condo tower consisting of four stacked cubes and 192 residential units. The structure will stand on lots formerly occupied by Gabby’s Bar and Grill, Lobby Lounge, China Gardens, and Pho Hung.

In 2005, Ashlee Simpson memorialized the McDonald’s at Bloor when she drunkenly berated staff and customers, demanding that one kiss her foot, and attempted to climb the restaurant’s counter. A video of the incident can be found on YouTube.

Brandon Bailey, a former Victoria University student, reported his reaction to the closure on Facebook: “I happened to walk by when the security guard locked the door for the final time. Confused, I walked up the unlit ramp to read the closure sign.

“As I passed him, the security guard shot me a sad look over his shoulder and muttered, ‘It’s closed forever, kid. Condos.’ He then turned down the adjacent alleyway and faded into the darkness. It was about as dramatic as a condo-tower-overtaking-a-McDonalds could be.”

The building it occupied for more than 50 years will be demolished, but the terms of its sale to Bazis provide for a new McDonald’s location inside the Exhibit Residences.