Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stollery’s squashes Apple Store rumours… again

Last Tuesday, that’s what local real estate–development blog Urban Toronto reported, citing an unnamed “reliable real estate industry source”; later that same day, The Grid’s Jacob Rutka spoke to a Stollery’s store manager, who said that the rumour was “not true” and that “we’re not moving anytime soon.” But that hasn’t stopped others from running with it. And besides, many asked, would a store manager really be in the loop on a deal that big? (Among those who asked that question after our story was first published: Urban Toronto themselves.)
So what’s really happening?
What Stollery’s says:
“Nothing is happening. There’s no such thing, there’s no such deal,” says the man who would know: Edwin Whaley, the president and CEO of Frank Stollery Limited, the store’s owners. (Frank Stollery, who passed away in 1971, was Stollery’s founder.)
And Whaley is mad. ”It’s not good for business, let me tell you,” he says of the Apple-Store rumour. “I don’t know how people can get away with this nonsense.” Whaley says that he’s about to have a notice put in the city’s newspapers that should put the rumours to rest once and for all, but when it comes to talking to reporters, he’s less keen. “It’s already a problem with my staff so cut it out,” he says, emphatically. “Don’t accentuate it, okay?”
What the property records say:
There’s been no sale. According to provincial land-registry records for 1 Bloor West, which show any and all activity for the plot of land going back several decades, the property has not changed hands: The current owners are still listed as Frank Stollery Limited. That doesn’t prove for certain that a deal isn’t in the works for the address, but it does mean that if there is one, it hasn’t been finalized yet. (It happens.)
What Apple says:
Nothing, yet—they haven’t returned The Grid‘s calls seeking comment, though that’s little surprise from a company that’s famous for keeping secrets. Northwest Atlantic Canada Inc., Apple’s brokers, haven’t returned calls yet either.
What the neighbours say:
They’ve heard the rumours, too, but at this point, that’s not saying much. 1 Bloor East, the high-rise project that’s finally under construction just across the street from Stollery’s after years of delay, was recently rumoured to be the future home of an Apple Store, too; some early renderings of the massive development at the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor even included a store on the ground floor with Apple’s logo on it.
“That was just some architect’s musings at the time,” says John MacNeil, the president of First Gulf Corporation, of the renderings with Apple in them. “There is no tenant name that we’re releasing at this point in time,” says MacNeil, who’s handling 1 Bloor East’s two retail floors. Are there discussions happening with Apple? “No comment.”
What the person who started the rumour about 1 Bloor West being sold in the first place says:
“I had heard someone bought that site,” realtor Shadia Sarrafi says today. Back on Nov. 16, she tweeted: ”Does anyone know who bought #1BloorWest! Not sure but exciting…” That tweet led to a forum thread, and plenty of speculation, on Urban Toronto. But when we tell her that, according to provincial records, 1 Bloor West didn’t sell then and hasn’t sold since, she’s surprised. ”Maybe the sale fell through?”
What Urban Toronto says:
Urban Toronto’s article about the sale, titled “Apple To Open At 1 Bloor West?” was written by the site’s managing editor, Craig White. “Word has reached UrbanToronto from a reliable real estate industry source that the Stollery’s store at Yonge and Bloor streets in Toronto has been purchased by Apple Corporation,” he wrote. There was no further information about the source, and neither Stollery’s nor Apple were quoted in the article.
In an email sent to The Grid, White maintains that his article was more equivocating than it’s been taken to be.
“UrbanToronto’s story about the potential Apple Store at Yonge and Bloor has always appeared with a question mark in the headline,” White says. “While the article is written in a way that does not doubt the veracity of the report from our real-estate industry source, but speculates on what we might see on the corner in the future if it were true, the question mark still qualifies the whole story, asking the reader to consider whether this might happen.”
There’s a reason no-one’s talking, White maintains. “Several people know and have confirmed that Apple has talked with the Stollery family about taking over the site, whether it would be as a purchase or as a long-term lease. Anyone directly involved would have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, including the Stollery family. Our original source was not directly linked to the deal, but following the signing of NDAs, as people do talk off the record occasionally, he reported what he had heard. We know—because of the NDAs—that we will not know for certain whether Apple is moving in there until they are ready to tell us.”
Urban Toronto’s report of the sale, in other words, was not just vague; it was second-hand. It could end up being true, maybe, one day. But readers wondering “whether this might happen” to a store that’s anchored one of Toronto’s most iconic intersections for more than a hundred years might want to consider more of the evidence.

Stollery’s squashes Apple Store rumours… again

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