365 – 375 Church Street development site viewed December 21 2010
Church Street growing taller? Sometimes it really ticks me off to see developers propose new office or condo towers for sites where attractive old or historic buildings are standing — especially since there are so many parking lots and empty parcels of land scattered throughout the downtown core where development would seem more appropriate or even necessary. Why not leave the nice old buildings and their charming streetscapes alone, I often wonder, and build on the underused empty lots instead?
So when a developer came along proposing to do just that — construct a condo tower where a parking lot now sits on Church Street — I should have been thrilled. Instead, I felt almost as upset as I get when I hear that a wonderful heritage building is going to be destroyed to make way for a new condo. The reason? The new highrise might block my beloved view of the CN Tower!
Now I admit it probably sounds silly to be fretting about losing views of the CN Tower. But those views are worth a lot of money: real estate agents are constantly pestering us to sell our condo because they have clients eager to buy places with the great skyline views we enjoy every day (and we really do love our view). We don’t plan to move in the foreseeable future but, when we do decide to sell, will potential buyers still be as keen for our place if the view is blocked? I doubt it, but that’s a problem we probably won’t have to worry about for several more years.
Condo would rise on parking lot site near Toronto’s Gay Village
The potential view-blocker would be a 30-storey condo tower the Menkes corporation has proposed for the parking lot that currently occupies the northeast corner of Church and McGill Streets (municipal address: 365 – 375 Church). The site is just a stone’s throw south of Toronto’s Gay Village, where two other condo tower plans have recently encountered some stiff community opposition (I’ll be posting photos and info about those projects soon).
Menkes proposes a three-storey podium with street-level retail space, and a 27-storey condo tower on top. The building would have 322 residential units plus five underground levels accommodating 161 parking spaces. The tower would be taller than zoning restrictions allow, so Menkes would have to obtain an exemption from City Hall before it could build.
City councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told Xtra!, the newspaper for Toronto’s gay and lesbian community, that city planning staff believe the Church Street parking lot is an “underutilized” site “that can bear development.” However, she personally isn’t certain “if it can bear 30 storeys,” and promises that neighbourhood residents will get to provide input. A story in the January 13 edition of Xtra! offers further information about the project, as well as Ms. Wong-Tam’s plans for community consultation. Below are some of my photos of the proposed development site.
View of 365 Church Street, looking southeast from Granby Street, on January 18
Site viewed from the west side of Church Street on January 18
Northeast view of the site from McGill Street on January 18
Development proposal sign at 365 Church Street
Northeasterly view of 365 Church Street on December 21 2010