A popular pastry shop in Toronto’s Greektown is being forced to close to make room for the new Ontario Line subway system and the family that owns it says the transit agency’s offer was “a joke.”
Akropolis Pastries, located near Danforth and Pape avenues, has been in operation for over four decades. Bill Gekas’ parents opened up the shop as new immigrants to Canada in 1979.
“Since ’79 up until now, it’s been a thriving business,” Gekas, who is now the president of Akropolis Pastries, told NEWSTALK1010’s Moore in the Morning Tuesday.
“It’s kind of like our legacy that we wanted to leave behind [for] our kids and their grandkids.”
Gekas said his family received a letter in February 2022 notifying them that the property his family’s shop—as well as the building that they own and rent out to tenants—is up for expropriation. He said they went back and forth with a Metrolinx official, trying to learn what they needed and what kind of offer was on the table.
He said he didn’t hear anything from Metrolinx after sending them quotes and asking for relocation, until he was notified they had 90 days to move out.
“They made an offer for the building, okay, which is well below what we were expecting,” Gekas said, adding that Metrolinx’s appraisal was based on the building’s frontage.
“We have like four apartments plus a retail location. You’re saying it’s worth the same as a business that just opened up on a single storey with no tenants? It was kind of like a joke.”
On May 1, Metrolinx registered the property and 90 days later all tenants of the building has to move out, according to Gekas. In mid-August they will be shutting their doors for good.
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Metrolinx said the route of the Ontario Line was moved to tunnel east of Pape Avenue instead of directly below the roadway. This, officials said, allowed them to keep the existing Pape Station while allowing local roads to remain open during construction.
“No major infrastructure project, especially in a built-up city like Toronto, can happen without impacting existing properties,” spokesperson Andrea Ernesaks said.
“We understand this can be difficult for property owners, business owners and tenants, which is why we only acquire properties that are absolutely necessary for projects, and we make every effort to minimize the amount we need through careful planning and design work.”
Metrolinx confirmed they have been working with the owner of Akropolis Pastries and other affected properties for years.
“Expropriation is always a last resort – in every case, our goal is to reach an amicable agreement. We reimburse all reasonable costs to ensure property owners are supported throughout the negotiating process,” Ernesaks said. “While we understand that transit expansion can be disruptive, Ontario’s population is growing, and building public transit such as the Ontario Line will benefit the city for generations to come.”
The number of properties needed has not been finalized as they still need to select a contractor for the work.
Ernesaks added they will be engaging with tenants to find alternative arrangements and will work with the city to find accommodation for “some tenants.”
The 15-stop, 15.6-kilometre Ontario Line is expected to run from Exhibition Place through the downtown core along Queen Street before heading north to the current location of the Ontario Science Centre.
It is scheduled to be completed by 2031.
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