The rebirth of Scarborough’s Guild Inn, frustrated by failed partnerships and decay, may be at hand once again.
The City of Toronto issued a request to pre-qualify (TRP) this month for companies interested in designing, financing, building and operating a restaurant which may include a banquet centre “and other complimentary facilities” on the site of the former Inn.
A small crowd including some restaurateurs gathered around the shuttered building Thursday, Nov. 15, afternoon for what the city called a “Voluntary Project Information Meeting,” though all were told “only the exterior of the facility will be viewed.”
The period for submissions closes Nov. 30, and supporters of the Guild are hoping for the best.
“Now that the request has been released proponents will have six weeks to put forward their interest, our aim is to have a proponent awarded shortly after,” Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie said in an online newsletter.
The Guild and its gardens have had a long wait. The city and Centennial College dissolved a two-year prospective partnership last November, after the college said it was unable to interest investors in a hotel and proposed selling condominiums on the site in order to restore the Inn building, also called the Bickford Residence. A 2005 deal with the Windmill Development Group also failed over the issue of condominiums.
Many still hope the Bickford - which has also seen use as a home and hospital and would be 100 years old in 2014 - can be saved, though it has been damaged by flooding and the elements over more than a decade.
Ainslie has said he believes the derelict building must come down and that some $4.2 million in city investments for Guild Park won’t go ahead while it remains. Residents applied this year to make the Guild a national historic site, and an 18-minute video, The Guild Inn - Save It, received an honourable mention last month the 2012 Heritage Toronto Awards.
Michael James Saunders, a Scarborough resident, made the video (http://vimeo.com/21376197) before the Heritage Canada Foundation placed the Inn on its 2011 list of Canada’s most-endangered heritage properties, calling the Inn’s decline a case of “demolition by neglect.”
Saunders said he knew Spencer Clark, the former Guild owner who ran a colony of artists there and later saw fragments of old Toronto buildings collected for display around the Inn. He shot the video two years ago, he added, because he “felt really horrified at the state of the place” and wanted to spread the message “that we’ve all got to do something” about it.
The Guild Renaissance Group will lead a tour of the site this Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. and Spencer said he’s uploaded a new video, The Guild Inn - Halloween 2012, to update conditions there.