WATCH ABOVE: John Tory talks about his personal connection with Massey Hall.
TORONTO – The federal and provincial government announced Monday an investment of $8 million each for the first phase of the Massey Hall Revitalization Project.
To be completed by 2019, the renovation will include the demolition of the Albert Building just to the south and the creation of new, modernized backstage spaces, along with new technical and production facilities and the hall’s first ever loading dock.
Mayor John Tory said Toronto has not always done well in preserving its heritage structures.
“But I hope today represents a new beginning, a new chapter in doing something very special for a special place,” he said.
The seven-year $135 million private and publicly funded revitalization plan was approved by city council in 2013.
“I am delighted to see this project move forward,” said Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who is also the federal minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area.
He noted that Massey Hall has not only hosted concerts by artists such as Gordon Lightfoot and Oscar Peterson, but also boxing matches, typing contests and chess tournaments.
WATCH: Joe Oliver says Jim Flaherty’s love for Massey Hall spurred revitalization project
Michael Coteau, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, recalled seeing his first hip hop concert at Massey Hall as a teenager 20 years ago.
“It’s about bringing Massey Hall into the 21st Century,” he said in announcing the provincial government’s contribution.
Toronto-based MOD Developments Inc. had announced in January 2012 the donation of 4,804 square feet of land immediately to the south of Massey Hall for the expansion.
Officials say Massey Hall, which first opened in 1894, will remain open to the public for concerts and events during the first phase of the project.
However, the building will be closed for a period of 18 to 24 months during the second phase as both the interior and exterior is restored, adding new and accessible space for both artists and patrons.
WATCH: Joe Oliver says Massey Hall investment shows Feds commitment to the arts