The Silver Dollar, as you know it, is closing

Another live music venue down in "Music City"


One of the city’s most popular live music venues, The Silver Dollar, is closing on May 1.

The venue’s booker, Dan Burke, confirmed that even though the beloved venue has heritage designation, the club as we know it won’t exist after development – in the works between City Hall and the building’s owner for some time – begins on the site.

“The club has to shut down during the construction phase of the re-development,” he says in an email. “It will re-open along with the student residence high-rise. But in what form – student pub, live venue – that remains to be seen.”

He hinted at the news during a recent interview with NOW, saying that “if [the Dollar] ends there’s nowhere else to go. I’ve reached the borderline [of this stretch of Spadina]. If you look north, it’s done. If it ends here, it’s the Alamo. Gotta go down with guns blazing. And the way the city’s evolving, that may happen sooner than you think.”

But today, he sounds a little less certain that he’s done booking shows, hinting that the Dollar’s management could be looking for a new space.

“I’ve got a lot of great shows left at the club. Some of the best Toronto bands I’ve ever worked with are on board for farewell shows. So I’m concentrating on taking care of that while the Silver Dollar management finds us a new room.”

While there hasn’t been an official announcement, an event page created by local rockers The Highest Order for a Farewell To The Silver Dollar live recording/show has been making the rounds on Facebook on Tuesday, January 31. It reads in part:

Due to some more foul planning moves on the part of the City of Toronto, as we understand it, The Silver Dollar Room is closing in May. We won’t be around in April for the other goodbye shows, but wanted to say goodbye to this legendary venue that has definitely served us well (and under age ahahahha) over the years.

The show and live taping takes place February 25.

The Highest Order, whose Still Holding album was our top local album of 2016, will be joined by as-yet-unnamed special guests. Tickets are $12 and go on sale at Rotate This and June Records on February 6. All proceeds go to the End Immigration Detention Network.

In addition to the Highest Order show, Burke says there will be more farewell shows featuring some of his nearest and dearest artists.

In January 2014, the developer that owns the 484 Spadina site, the Wynn Group, proposed tearing down the Silver Dollar Room and the Waverly Hotel to make way for a 22-storey mixed-use building, but the city rejected the proposal.

The Wynn Group appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and eventually reached a settlement with the city to reduce the height to 15 storeys and retain the Silver Dollar at the same size, massing, scale and location along with the bar, stage, the terrazzo floors, mural, photos on the wall and its outdoor sign.

Additionally, the Silver Dollar’s management (which also operates the Comfort Zone) made a separate agreement with the Wynn Group that gives them first right to refusal to operate the venue when it re-opens, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina councillor Joe Cressy tells NOW.

However, that agreement is not enshrined in city’s settlement with the developer because the city cannot mandate ownership or leasing arrangements with a for-profit business.

“Like any other venue in the city, the future is uncertain insofar as the landlord could rent it to someone else and they may have a different vision,” says Cressy. “The City cannot control the use, but we have a legal agreement to create a space that is set-up to be used for live music.

“What we’ve done here is to ensure that the Silver Dollar will live on forever,” he adds.

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested in the headline that the Silver Dollar would close permanently. It has been updated to clarify that the city and developer reached a deal that would keep the venue open following construction.

carlag@nowtoronto.com | @carlagillis

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