01/03/2012 07:24 EST | Updated 03/04/2012 05:12 EST

Yonge St. Arson Suspect Sought Via 3D Profiling


Toronto Police investigating the downtown arson that ravaged a historic Yonge Street building exactly a year ago hope that new 3D technology will help them finally build a suspect profile.

The Jan. 3, 2011, fire engulfed the heritage building at 353 Yonge St., and although police have not made any arrests, the best leads they're following are grainy surveillance videos that show the same man going to the back of the building at least three times before the blaze.

Detectives are counting on special 3D technology to give them a description of that person down to his height and weight.

"It's something that allows us to almost recreate the scene and provide a 3D image of that person," Const. Wendy Drummond said. "Being able to do that will definitely assist the public in trying to identify him."

In the mean time, Torontonians have complained that the empty lot where the old red-brick heritage building once stood has become an eyesore.

"It's just a very high value of land that's not being used."

Christopher Valdivia, who works across the street from the site, called it a waste of space.

"It's just a very high value of land that's not being used," he said.

'Animate the space'

City councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam agreed it's time to figure out a plan for the property.

"It is very much what I would consider an eyesore," she said, adding that she has her own ideas for what should occupy the space where the historic building was first erected in 1888.

"To turn it into an urban parkette, to animate the space. There's all sorts of digital lighting they can work with, that can enhance the space, and even trying to find a quality retailer," she said.

Others have suggested turning the property into an alternate subway entrance.

Ryerson University, which is building a student centre across the street from the site, has expressed interest in working with any developers eyeing the space there.

But the owners of the former building, the Lalani Group, have so far kept quiet about future plans for the lot. The company did not return phone calls or emails from CBC News on Tuesday.

Wong-Tam said she has been in contact with Lalani Group and feels the company is keen to explore options for the property, but that the fact it has languished as is for 12 months in a highly visible corridor is worrying.