Proposal to add 43-floor apt tower + townhouses to Sherbourne Str. complex goes to TEYCC Tuesday


565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Rental apartment buildings at 565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne St. A fourth tower and townhouses would be added to the complex under a proposal being reviewed tomorrow (October 4) by Toronto and East York Community Council.


555 Sherbourne Street and 565 Sherbourne Street

A northeasterly view from Earl Street of the 28-storey rental apartment tower at 565 Sherbourne Street, left, and the 31-storey tower at 555 Sherbourne, right. A development plan calls for construction of a 43-storey rental tower between the two buildings, behind what is presently a No Frills grocery store.


Earl Street between 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

 This podium segment that crosses over Earl Street to link 555 Sherbourne, left, with 545 Sherbourne, right, would be demolished, creating an open “gateway” to the St James Town highrise neighbourhood to the east.


Rear of 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses would be constructed along the east (Bleecker Street) side of 545 Sherbourne Street, which currently features a deteriorating elevated podium above this unsightly loading zone and garbage storage area.


Rear of 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses also would be built along this stretch of Bleecker Street behind 555 Sherbourne and the site where the new apartment tower would rise


565 and 555 Sherbourne Street retail stores

Street-level retail shop frontage along Sherbourne Street would be expanded and improved under a plan to redevelop the podium for the apartment towers.


Spruce-up for Sherbourne?: At its public meeting tomorrow morning, Toronto and East York Community Council will consider an intriguing development proposal that would see a 43-storey rental building and rows of 2- and 3-storey townhouses added to a complex of three apartment towers constructed on Sherbourne Street in the late 1970s. The plan also would see the redevelopment and improvement of the retail space occupying the street level of the apartment complex podium along Sherbourne Street.

The development application, filed by community planning and urban design firm Bousfields Inc. on behalf of Medallion Properties Inc., would add 409 rental units to the Medallion-operated complex, which currently has 1,117 apartments on the northwest edge of downtown’s densely-populated St James Town neighbourhood. Although the proposed development would increase density in an already-crowded residential area likely to experience significant condo tower development in the next several years, it also would substantially improve the appearance of the tired and worn-looking complex as well as three adjacent streets — Sherbourne, Earl and Bleecker.

A background report prepared by the city planning department for Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) has recommended that the redevelopment application be approved on certain conditions, including payment of $1 million — in what’s known as Section 37 benefits under the Ontario Planning Act — in exchange for the increased project height and density. Of that sum, $900,000 would be put towards the future construction of a swimming pool at the Wellesley Community Centre next door, while $100,000 would be earmarked for streetscape improvements on Bleecker Street.

The TEYCC will consider the report and recommendations as part of the agenda for its regular monthly meeting tomorrow. Subject to any decisions the TEYCC makes at that time, the proposal could wind up being considered for approval by Toronto City Council at its meeting on October 24 2011.

Although many nearby residents dread the thought of hundreds more people moving into yet another highrise building in an already crowded area  (ethnically diverse St James Town is one of the most densely populated districts in Canada), I welcome Medallion’s redevelopment plan and hope it gets the green light from City Council.

I have lived a short walk from the 545-565 Sherbourne complex for more than 20 years, and have always considered its badly-designed dark and dingy east side, along Bleecker Street, to be an egregious affront to the streetscape. The west side of the complex, which stretches for roughly a full city block along Sherbourne Street, isn’t much better. The buildings’ podium, which houses an extremely busy grocery store and other street-level retail shops and services, is an eyesore that has been long overdue for a major makeover. Medallion’s redevelopment plans would spruce up the buildings and greatly enhance the appearance of Sherbourne Street at the same time. The proposal to remove an elevated podium segment between 545 and 555 Sherbourne Street would vastly improve Earl Street by eliminating a dark and dreary passageway that looks more like a barrier than a gateway to the St James Town neighbourhood next door. Meanwhile, new townhouses along the building’s ugly east side would drastically improve what is possibly the bleakest stretch of Bleecker Street.

Below are photos I’ve taken of 545-565 Sherbourne at various times during the past year, along with some architectural illustrations submitted to the City’s planning department that depict how the apartment complex would appear with a taller fourth tower.

Full details of the proposed townhouses, apartment tower and podium redevelopment are provided in the city planning department’s September 13 2011 background report to the TEYCC.



545-565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The 545-565 Sherbourne Street towers, viewed from the northwest at the corner of Sherbourne and Linden Streets. The towers were built in the late 1970s, but the 1-storey Shopper Drug Mart addition wasn’t constructed until 2007.


545-565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The concrete and brown brick apartment towers at 545-565 Sherbourne, viewed from the west at the intersection of Jarvis and Isabella Streets. The new tower would rise in front of the white St James Town apartment building visible in the middle rear of the photo.


555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The new tower would soar 120 meters — and stand more than 12 storeys taller than 565 Sherbourne Street, left, and 555 Sherbourne Street, right, seen here from the west along Isabella Street.


555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Northeast view from Sherbourne Street of the podium for the apartment complex, including the elevated segment above Earl Street (right).  The podium would be completely redeveloped and improved.


545-565 Sherbourne zoning amendment proposal sign

One of the zoning amendment proposal signs that had been posted outside the 545-565 Sherbourne complex for the past two years. The original plan called for a 38-storey apartment tower that would be connected to 565 Sherbourne by landscaped “sky garden” bridges at five-floor intervals …


public meeting sign at 545 Sherbourne Street

… but a standalone 43-storey tower ultimately wound up being proposed, and will be considered tomorrow by Toronto and East York Community Council. These signs appeared outside the complex on Sherbourne Street last month.


development proposal illustration for 545-565 Sherbourne Street

This illustration from a city planning report depicts how the 43-storey tower would appear viewed from the west …


illustration of east elevation for 545-565 Sherbourne Street

… while this illustration depicts the east elevation and indicates where 2- and 3-storey townhouses would be built along Bleecker Street.


No Frills grocery store at 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Area residents aren’t happy that this No Frills store, situated at street level in the podium between 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street, would be closed for several years during redevelopment construction. It is one of only two grocery stores serving more than three dozen nearby highrise and lowrise buildings.


No Frills grocery store at 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A fitness centre — the Bloor Valley Club — once operated above the grocery store. The gym boasted a full-size swimming pool in the space with the large west-facing windows, as well as squash courts and rooms for aerobics, cardio and weights. The space has been vacant since Bloor Valley closed around 2001. 


555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Stairs leading to the second-floor entrance to the former Bloor Valley Club space were removed from this corner of the podium several years ago. A Loblaws store occupied the street-level retail space beneath the gym from the 1980s until the late 1990s, when it was replaced with the No Frills.


545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The street-level entrance to the 31-storey 545 Sherbourne apartment tower will be improved when the elevated podium (left) is demolished.


555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The entrance to 555 Sherbourne Street is off Earl Street in the dark space under the elevated podium which will be demolished


545 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

545, 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street viewed from the southeast


Rear podium of 545 Sherbourne Street

Bleecker Street view of the elevated podium behind 545 Sherbourne Street. Under the redevelopment plan, the podium will be replaced with townhouses.


The podium behind 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The podium behind 555 Sherbourne, viewed from Bleecker Street


rear of podium between 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Bleecker Street view of the dark and dreary loading zone under the elevated podium behind 555 and 565 Sherbourne. Under the redevelopment plan, a row of 3-storey townhouses will enhance this streetscape.


Rear of 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street

The loading zone under the podium is a cold, dark void that creates a hostile streetscape along the west side of Bleecker Street. The new service area will be enclosed, situated behind townhouses, and accessed by large garage doors.


The rear of the podium for 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street

Concrete steps lead from Bleecker Street to the elevated podium.


Bleecker Street view of rear of podium for 555- 565 Sherbourne

Originally known as The Sherbourne Club, the Bloor Valley Club once occupied most of the podium building between 555 and 565 Sherbourne. The gym closed in 2001 after its owners extensively renovated the Bloor Park Club on Park Road and decided to discontinue operations on Sherbourne Street.


Bleecker Street view of rear of 565 Sherbourne Street

A redevelopment proposal sign on Bleecker Street near the stairs to the podium.


rear of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses will revitalize this moribund stretch of Bleecker Street


rear of 555 Sherbourne Street

The Bleecker Street side of the podium looks dreadful year-round. The podium, which has long suffered from disrepair and neglect, will be revitalized.


Bleecker Street behind 565 Sherbourne Street

The tall trees are the only attractive elements on the entire Bleecker Street side of the complex. Unfortunately, aabout 10 trees will have to be destroyed to allow for construction of townhouses and revitalization of the podium.


555-565 Sherbourne Street  Toronto

Podium view looking south along Bleecker Street toward 555 Sherbourne


rear of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The east side of the 565 Sherbourne tower, seen here looking north along Bleecker Street, will be drastically enhanced by a row of rental townhouses


East side of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Townhouses will enliven this dreadful strip on the east side of 565 Sherbourne


east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

In total, 40 townhouses will be built along Bleecker and Earl Streets.


the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

South view of the east side of 565 Sherbourne along Bleecker Street


a street level unit on the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

 The entrance to a street-level unit on the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street


parkette on Bleecker Street Toronto

This St James Town parkette is situated on the east side of Bleecker Street, directly opposite the 565 Sherbourne tower


Bleecker Street parkette

The parkette and one of four St James Town apartment highrises on the east side of Bleecker Street opposite the 545-565 Sherbourne complex


St James Town community centre and library

The Wellesley Community Centre and St James Town public library branch are situated immediately south of 545 Sherbourne. They opened in 2004.


Future swimming pool site on Bleecker Street

This grassed area off Bleecker Street, behind the Wellesley Community Centre, is where a public swimming pool will be constructed once sufficient funds become available. The pool will cost at least $10 million, but the City has collected only one third of that amount so far in fees from developers. Medallion Properties will have to pay $900,000 into the pool fund if it receives approval to redevelop the 545-565 Sherbourne apartment complex next door.


Future swimming pool site on Bleecker Street

The future swimming pool location viewed from the Bleecker Street sidewalk behind 545 Sherbourne



19 thoughts on “Proposal to add 43-floor apt tower + townhouses to Sherbourne Str. complex goes to TEYCC Tuesday

  1. Michelle Neilson

    The temporary closure of the Sherbourne Street No Frills would be a huge loss for this community. Many people walk to pick up groceries in this neighbourhood and No Frills is within walkable distance of many apartments. Residents in this area would not be left with many options if this No Frills closes. Most other grocery stores in the area are smaller and much more expensive and larger grocery centers are out of walking range. Could a temporary location be found for this important community business?

    1. Angry

      no chance of the happening they are putting in a more expensive Sobey’s!!! Good luck shopping in affordable stores Food Basics Suck!!

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    1. TOblogeditor Post author

      No Frills staff have told me the store is closing, permanently, on July 17, and that No Frills was unable to negotiate a lease for the new premises. They said they have been told that a Sobeys will take its place.

  3. Angry

    No Frills is Closing for good in July……Most people in this area do not want a Sobey’s they want the No Frills.This is a low income area and no one here can afford to shop at Sobey’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Babel

    They will close No Frills on July and they will open Fresh Co after that. The shuttle buses will connect the neighborhood with Fresh Co on Parliament street. They just didn’t say when they’re gonna open Fresh Co. I hope we will not wait for it for 2 years

  5. SashaSkye

    While the closure of No Frills is definitely an inconvenience, it’s not the end of the world. There is another one on Parliament Street about a 15 min walk away just right of the intersection of Parliament and Wellesley. Food Basics also has great deal. While it may be a little more effort, great savings are still all around us.

    1. Golomar

      I always considered the Sherbourne Street No Frills to be somewhat lacking in certain areas but its value to the neighbourhood (and that includes all the way over to Bay Street near my home) to be absolutely essential. When I went to the Parliament Street No Frills I was shocked. The Sherbourne Street store had its faults, but compared to the Parliament Street store, there is no comparison! Each No Frills reflects its community in the foods it stocks and the Sherbourne store was no exception. To give Freshco its due, their stores can also well serve the communities they find themselves in (it’s only good business to do so!) but a multi-year wait to open its doors is a terrible hardship for everyone who depends on this location for their grocery shopping. Time will only tell if the proposed Freshco store is affordable for the majority of residents of this area who used to depend on No Frills for the majority of their food needs. I don’t think it was customer complaints about the service or the selection that closed this No Frills location. Let’s hope Sobey’s realizes that every day this location stays empty is another reason for the area’s residents to shop elsewhere.

  6. Angry

    The rumor is the Freshco by Sobey’s won’t be open for at least 3 yrs good luck getting them to shuttle everyone to the other store for 3 yrs…lmao This is what you get for complaining about the no frills service and products!

  7. Stephen

    Every one of these “so called city planners” should ALL be fired.
    High rises are going up ALL OVER THE PLACE at an alarming rate with little to no concern on the impact on the environment and the people already living in these already overcrowded neighborhoods.

    Existing apartments are also been renovated (some i”m sure illegally without permits like the building I live in) and converted into more bedrooms so they can jack up the rent as small 300sq apartments are now becoming the “norm”. RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!

    Unfortunately the lower income families are the ones that ALWAYS suffer.

    Toronto’s “town planning” is like the LEAFS …….. NOT a winning situation.

  8. John

    Bravo, Congratulations to the revitalization of this desperate looking area. A welcome change to the city scape of Toronto, now there is hope for a community feel where business and residents can establish themselves with pride. Hopefully the remaining towers will pull together and clean up their act and take better care of their residents. Just because there are many immigrants in the area does not mean it has to be cared for as a Third world country.

  9. Adam

    I hope the rent in, and afterwards, around the new building is a bit on the higher side so some people can leave and go out of town. There are way too many people in this area and they are not keeping it clean at all. There is dog poop everywhere as well as people constantly feeding the pigeons. This area is so dirty is appalling. I was walking down Regent Park today (Parliament and Dundas) and that area is so beautiful and clean. I was amazed at the work put into that area. We need this area to be like that. It’s a shame that councillor Pam McConnell only seem to care about the part of the city she lives in. Maybe I was a bit harsh to suggest higher rent, but if new bylaws, and it’s enforcement, will clean up this area, then I’m all for that.

  10. Ann Anderson

    Is there any update on the exciting revitalization project? Has there been further announcements? Have the exisiting buildings put forth a repair schedule? Is there confirmation on the grocery store or other business to be in place?. How will the area compare to the great job being accompolished in Regents Park? Looking forward to hear more about this project, this area is in great need of assistance.

  11. Mason

    Demolition of the podium began on Monday 13-January. Earl St. between Sherbourne and Bleeker is now closed as this project is underway.

  12. cath

    I live in St. Jamestown, and I am delighted by how much the removal of that podium has improved the entrance to my neighbourhood. “Gateway” was exactly the word I had in mind. The curve of St. James Street, as it enters St. Jamestown, is actually quite pretty. It allows a very welcoming view of the neighbourhood from the outside, and of Earl Street and Our Lady of Lourdes from within St. Jamestown. I found this post when I was looking for more information, re: where the new tower would go, and whether the podium would be replaced or remain open. I’m very pleased to learn that the gateway will remain open, that Bleecker St. will get some life, and that there will now be money to build a swimming pool at my rec centre. Great news all!

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  14. Mason

    Demolition on the former health club, No Frills supermarket, the small retail locations facing Sherbourne and the back side residential units is nearly complete.

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