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We’re at it again! CSI is buying a new building in Downtown Toronto!

The Centre for Social Innovation has just ‘gone firm’ on the purchase of 192 Spadina! This spectacular 64,000 square foot brick and beam building was built in 1920 and is known as the Murray Building. Formerly a printing company, with a stint in the garment industry, the Murray Building currently houses about 60 new media, arts, urban and other small businesses.

Located just across the street from our original location at 215 Spadina, the purchase of 192 will enable CSI to gradually, with a 4-year window, develop the Murray building into CSI’s largest location and transition our existing 175 CSI Spadina tenants over to the new space. With triple the amount of sq. ft., we will have the space to integrate the two communities over time.

The 4-year window is an incredible blessing - giving us the opportunity to thoughtfully and intentionally co-create this new space in partnership with you and our community.  Already we have exciting new partnerships revealing themselves to us and we can’t help but imagine how we can lean into our model to bring about even more intentional collaborations amongst our growing membership!

So why are we buying The Murray Building?

Buying a building is no easy challenge, but the CSI board and management have prioritized ownership as a core strategy in our work. I think that it is worthy of an explanation:

  • Affordability for our members and a long-term home - Having now opened up a location in NYC, we see just how high leasing rates can go. We have learned through owning the CSI Annex building, that as the market fluctuates, we are able to insulate ourselves and our members from the pressures of the market. In order to protect our business model and our community, the board felt strongly that buying a building was the right business decision while ensuring that we ensure a long-term home for our founding members at CSI Spadina as our lease their ends in 2018.
  • Community Wealth - Twenty five years from now, the assets that we have struggled to acquire now will be paying off when the mortgage is repaid and these beautiful buildings are producing a healthy surplus that will be dedicated to social innovation in perpetuity. CSI’s board embraces the opportunity to invest now to ‘take back’ our community spaces and reclaim the community’s control of the means of production. We can’t have everything in corporate hands. We need to be working together to build ‘community wealth.’
  • Social Infrastructure for Social Capital - As we refine our model, it is clear that we are a platform - an infrastructure provider to the citizen sector; a utility fueling a movement for social impact. Seeing ourselves as social infrastructure that enables social capital may seem a little heady, but ultimately, we believe in creating inspiring and productive spaces for people to change the world.
  • Laying the Foundation for our Voices - Ultimately, we have needed to get bigger in order to be taken seriously. We have needed to own in order to insulate ourselves from bias, influence, politics and markets. This is a long game we are playing. We are building a giant ‘brick and beam’ amplifier - built by the people, for the people - that will stand on its own two feet and will speak truth to power.  A beacon of what is possible, CSI is gritty, chaotic and determined, making us the perfect home for dedicated, creative, risk-taking world-changers.
  • Demonstrating the Power of Community - Demonstrating the power of the community through the Community Bond offering and the democratization of finance through citizen-ownership is kind of awesome. I love telling people that 60 citizen investors co-own CSI Annex. This time, we will have up to 600 citizen investors co-owning 192 Spadina. We are lowering the minimum to $1,000 and working harder than ever to attract private foundations too - creating a virtuous cycle of good money creating good money. (There is nothing more fulfilling than writing a cheque to a foundation and knowing that it will be further creating good in the world).

So, these are some of the reasons that we are buying the Murray Building at 192 Spadina. We are looking forward to exploring partnerships and collaborations over the coming years to help us enhance the work that we do. We hope that you will join us in our efforts to co-create a better world. We are looking for investors, corporate partners, new tenants, old tenants and more members who want to work with us to be a part of the solution. To start, check out our Community Bond Page and join us for an info session to learn more! 

Tonya Surman

Co-Founder and CEO