April 29 2013: A “for sale” sign has been posted in front of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East …
… where a century-old mansion and coach house stood until January 2012 when the buildings were hastily demolished after new owners took possession …
… with plans to construct a 29-storey condo tower in their place. The proposed highrise is depicted in this artistic illustration by Toronto’s Core Architects
Back on the market: A controversial condo tower development planned for the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village appears to be dead now that the property has been listed for sale.
As I reported in an October 17 2012 post, a small Toronto firm called Icarus Developments held an informational meeting last fall to publicly reveal its plans to build a 29-storey, 200-unit condo tower at 81 Wellesley Street East. Designed by Toronto’s Core Architects, the highrise would occupy a vacant piece of land that had been occupied for many decades by two by heritage-character buildings — the Odette House mansion and a coach house behind it — that were hurriedly demolished in January 2012.
The surprise demolition — and the brazen manner in which the buildings were razed — outraged local residents as well as Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who only a few weeks earlier had initiated procedures under which city staff would consider whether Odette House could be designated as a heritage property (see my January 19 2012 post for photos and a report about the demolition incident).
Tower plan was company’s first foray into condo development
At the October 16 2012 information meeting to which area residents were invited, a company representative named Kevin Chan said the condo tower would be the first development project undertaken by the two men who were principals of Icarus Developments. Mr. Chan added that, while no formal development application had yet been filed with the City, the company expected to submit the required paperwork within another month or so.
As months passed and no development application for 81 Wellesley appeared in listings on the City’s website, I wondered whether the project would proceed. It now appears that, like the mythical Icarus, the condo tower plans have crashed and burned. When I passed the property this morning, I noticed a large “for sale” sign has been erected on the north side of the site, facing Wellesley Street. The sign includes a contact telephone number for four named representatives of CBRE Limited, a real estate brokerage. (However, I haven’t been able to find a listing or any further information about the property on the CBRE website.)
Neighbourhood residents who have seen the CBRE sign are now wondering whether the property will be snapped up by another, more experienced, development firm, which might pursue a condo plan of its own. But the mere fact that 81 Wellesley is back up for sale, only a year and a half after it was sold for a reported $4.5 million, will undoubtedly rekindle lingering community resentment over the rushed demolition of the Odette mansion.
As one neighbourhood resident who saw me taking a photo of the “for sale” sign remarked, “This just goes to prove there was absolutely no need whatsoever for them to tear down those beautiful old buildings.”
April 19 2013: The CBRE Limited sign in front of 81 Wellesley East