Six months after popular wedding venue company Berkeley Events was placed under receivership, its main property holding, the historic Berkeley Church on Toronto's Queen Street East, has been given the green light by an Ontario court to be sold.
Berkeley events ceased operations last summer and was placed under receivership after defaulting on more than $10M in loans from TD Bank. On January 16, the Ontario Superior Court approved the sales process for the 1871-built church, which sits at 317 Queen Street East, with Colliers International selected to list the property.
Marketing materials from Colliers describe the 14,000-sq.-ft church as an "exceptional space suiting a variety of uses, from creative office to event space to highly-collaborative workspace." Although no asking price is listed, the church was previously on the market in 2023 for $22.5M.
Proceeds from the sale will go towards paying back Berkeley Events' debts and, if there is money left over, refunding the deposits of customers who had planned events with Berkeley that were cancelled as a result of the company's insolvency.
"In the event the Receiver determines that there are sufficient proceeds available to warrant a distribution to unsecured creditors, the Receiver will contact all customers to file a claim in the relevant estate," a notice on the website of the receiver, msi Spergel Inc., reads.
Notably, Berkeley Events also owns the neighbouring property at 301-311 Queen Street East, which has been placed under the control of another receiver, MNP. In the interest of obtaining the best possible sale price, msi Spergel has been in discussions with MNP about a joint marketing effort, according to court documents, with both parties having agreed to it.
Selling the two properties together makes quite a bit of sense, considering they were both involved in a proposed 19-storey development.
A development application for 301-311 Queen Street East was initially submitted to the City of Toronto in 2016 for the mixed-use tower, which includes 144 new condo units, and the Ontario Land Tribunal granted zoning approval in August 2022. The proposed development, however, requires use of the air rights and sub-surface land of the church's courtyard, as the tower, as designed, has an overhang.
The proposed development at 301-311 Queen Street East.(Via Colliers International)
Prior to a receiver being appointed, Berkeley Events owner Douglas Wheler argued that selling the church property separately would have “highly irrational and prejudicial consequences to a host of third parties.” The years-long development process would be wasted, he said, and the market value of the lands would be “severely impaired.” Such a scenario would be harmful to Equitable Bank, Wheler added, which holds a mortgage on the development site for $20.2M, as the appraised value is based on the viability of the development, which requires the use of the church's courtyard space.
Marketing material for the two sites both highlight their proximity to the future Ontario Line subway, which is set to have a station on the corner of Berkeley Street and King Street East, just a few minutes' walk from the sites.