The simple notice on a Facebook page is all it took to announce the end of one of Toronto’s cherished venues for small ensembles like chamber groups and jazz bands — Gallery 345 in Roncesvalles Village.
345 Sorauren Avenue…for sale.
Thanks everyone for your kind words and comments. While the building G345 is in is up for sale, the owners have yet to finalize a deal. Even when accomplished, they may not close until later in the year. So, I may have a chance to book some events for Sept and Oct. Once a deal is struck, I will then know my time-line for the gallery. I will keep you all informed. Edward Epstein
The post has garnered dozens of comments expressing their dismay at the closure of yet another of Toronto’s longstanding and beloved performance venues.
According to Gallery 345 owner, curator, and music programmer Edward Epstein, the reason is quite simple: the shareholders voted in favour of the sale.
“The group that bought the building, bought it thirty years ago,” explains Epstein. As he describes it, ‘the group’ refers to eight shareholders who got together to purchase the building some three decades ago.
With the current state of Toronto’s real estate market, the reasoning is equally unequivocal. “The building is more valuable than it used to be.” Epstein describes the situation – eight shareholders, all of them growing older, still friends after all this time. Epstein is one of those shareholders. “I also own and run Gallery 345 for the last 15 years,” he says. “I basically didn’t want to get in the way of the process.”
It’s not that there will be no regrets, however. Gallery 345 was a labour of love, and one that he took on with the help of the other shareholders. “I’ve never paid myself a salary.” Other shareholders will end up with a tidy sum, as he anticipates the sale. Epstein says he’ll recoup some of his investment. While money may not have been the motivation for Gallery 345, it does become the sticking point. “Unfortunately for me, I can’t buy everyone out.” Even if new owners were willing to let him rent or lease the space, Epstein doesn’t anticipate being able to pay the kind of rent they would be asking.
It’s unfortunate for live music lovers, but a performance venue closing in Toronto is a familiar sign of the times. “There will be one less when this closes.”
The listing is not public, at least as yet, but just down the street, a single loft condo at 347 Sorauren Avenue is gong for $1.78 million.