Category Archives: Heritage & Historic buildings

Office & condo tower complex would revitalize under-used ‘island’ site at York & Harbour Streets

1 York/90 Harbour Street

City planners have suggested the City give an official thumbs-up to a massive multi-use development project Menkes Developments Ltd. has proposed for a 1-hectare site at 1 York Street/90 Harbour Street. Their report recommends approval of a 37-storey office building, one 62-storey condo tower, and one 66-storey condo skyscraper — a significant revision from the original plan described in the development proposal sign posted on the property.


1 York Street office & condo site

October 4 2012: Looking east from York Street. The development site extends to the property line near the historic 6-storey Toronto Harbour Commission building at 60 Harbour Street. The heritage building was constructed in 1917.


1 York Street / 90 Harbour Street

September 25 2012: CN Tower view of the 1 York/90 Harbour development site, presently a surface parking lot (near center of photo).  To its right is the construction site for the 30-storey RBC WaterPark Place office building. Visible in the bottom right corner of the photo are the two ÏCE Condo towers and the Infinity3 condo complex under construction between York and Lower Simcoe Streets. At left are the 50- and 54-storey condo towers of Maple Leaf Square. Click on the photo to view a larger-size image.


Island bridge: City planners are recommending approval in principle of a proposal to develop a piece of prime real estate on Harbour Street into an office and condo complex with three towers ranging in height from 37 to 66 storeys.

The planners’ September 21 2012 report to Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) says redevelopment of the 1-hectare parcel at 1 York Street/90 Harbour Street — essentially an “island” of property between the Financial District and the Central Waterfront area — would “contribute to the City’s economic base, enhance the public realm of the Central Waterfront and help connect a key site in the downtown to its local context.”

The property already has been identified, in the City’s Official Plan as well as a Secondary Plan, as being “underused and in need of revitalization from its present use as parking lots and surrounded by highway ramps to something more vibrant and contributory to the community,” the planners observed in their 67-page report.




Wrecking crews clearing sites for Casa 2, King+ and King Charlotte condo tower construction

42 Charles Street East

October 25 2012: Demolition crews are busy dismantling the 9-storey building at 42 Charles Street East that formerly housed offices for the Toronto YMCA…


39 Hayden Street

… as well as this 3-storey brick law office building right behind it, at 39 Hayden Street, to clear the site for the 56-storey Casa 2 Condominium tower


King Charlotte condo site

October 20 2012: Piles of rubble and metal are all that remain of the 3-storey warehouse building that once stood at 11 Charlotte Street …


11 Charlotte Street

… seen here on March 29 2011. It has been demolished to make way for the 32-storey King Charlotte condo tower. Click on the photo to view a larger image.


King+ Condos site

October 4 2012: Low-rise buildings that once stood at 37 Sherbourne Street have been razed to make room for the 17-storey King+ Condos


King+ Condos site

… which will incorporate into the new tower part of the facade of the historic National Hotel building at 251 King East, constructed in 1868



Getting wrecked: Demolition and other site preparation work is clearing the way for construction to commence on three condo tower projects in three different downtown neighbourhoods.

Two office buildings are being knocked down and ripped apart near Yonge & Bloor to make room for the 56-storey Casa 2 Condominium that will take their place. The 9-storey brick building at 42 Charles Street East formerly housed offices of the Toronto YMCA, while the 3-storey brick building to its north, at 39 Hayden Street, had previously been home to a law firm. (For more information on the Casa 2 project, see my September 17 2012 post.)



Shoring work for The Mercer adds to daily din of Entertainment District condo construction

The Mercer condo

October 1 2012: A construction worker walks past foundation drilling machines on The Mercer condo tower site. Click on the photo to view a larger image.


The Mercer condo

October 1 2012: Tall shoring machines on The Mercer condominium tower site. This view is from John Street, looking west. Click on the photo to view a larger-size image.


The Mercer condo

A John Street view of the full corner site, looking northwest …


The Mercer condo

… a Mercer Street view of the shoring work, also looking northwest …


The Mercer condo

… and another Mercer street view, this time looking northeast


CN Tower view of The Mercer condo location

September 25 2012: The white circle indicates the The Mercer’s approximate location in this CN Tower view of the Entertainment District. Six more condo towers have been proposed just for the one block area to The Mercer’s west, while double that number are either already under construction or have been proposed for its immediate vicinity.



Shoring the site: The area is formally known as the Entertainment District, but as intensification of the bustling west downtown neighbourhood continues its breakneck pace, Torontonians might soon start calling it the Condominium Construction District. It seems residents and tourists can’t stroll more than a block without encountering drilling, dust, dump trucks and the constant cacophony of construction work — or development proposal signs heralding more highrises still to come.

The Mercer, a 33-storey tower set to rise on the northwest corner of John and Mercer Streets, is the latest condominium project adding to the incessant daytime din of building activity that permeates the neighbourhood.



29-storey condo proposed for 81 Wellesley East

81 Wellesley Street East

This artistic rendering, by Toronto’s Core Architects, depicts the 29-storey condo tower that a developer would like to build at 81 Wellesley Street East…


Odette House 81 Wellesley Street East

… the site on which this elegant 3-storey Odette House mansion once stood for decades …


81 Wellesley Street East coach house

… along with this 2-storey coach house at the rear of the property, until both buildings were hastily demolished in January by their new owners


Tall tower, slim site: A small Toronto development firm has revealed its plans for a 29-storey, 200-unit condo tower for 81 Wellesley Street East — the controversial site of the Odette House mansion and coach house that were demolished last winter.

Although the two buildings were not included on the City’s inventory of heritage properties, their destruction — and the way in which it was carried out — sparked considerable outrage in the Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood. (For further details and photos, see my January 19 2012 report as well as my June 16 2012 follow-up post.)

The condo tower being proposed to take their place may prove to be almost as controversial.



40-storey condo proposed for Yonge & Isabella

625 Yonge Street

A development application has been filed with the City for this 625 Yonge Street property at the southeast corner of Yonge & Isabella Streets. The proposal calls for a 40-storey residential tower with retail shops and offices to take its place.


625 Yonge Street

October 10 2012: The 625 Yonge building, viewed from the southwest


looking north on Yonge Street from Irwin Street

October 10 2012: Looking north on Yonge from Irwin Street. The 625 Yonge development site (white building with the yellow and black YSFC banners) has the cachet of being situated only three blocks south of the prime Yonge & Bloor intersection.


Condos on the corner: News that a rezoning application had been filed with the city for a commercial property on the corner of Yonge and Isabella Streets left the nearby neighbourhood rife with rumours and speculation yesterday about what is in store for the site. Not surprisingly, most people expected an announcement would be forthcoming that a condo  tower project is being proposed.

Word spread quickly that an entry for 625 Yonge Street had been added to the development projects page in the planning department section of the City of Toronto website. For most of the day, the website entry listed only the municipal address for the development application, its file number, and contact details for the city planner responsible for the file. It did not provide any specifics about how big or how tall the development would be, or whether it would be condos, offices, retail or a mix of all three. The absence of further information led to considerable conjecture about the owner’s plans for the property. (When I checked the entry late yesterday afternoon, it still lacked details; this morning, someone called my attention to additional information that finally had been added sometime during the evening.)



Construction launched on 2 low-rise luxury condo projects on Yorkville’s leafy Hazelton Avenue

36 Hazelton

August 31 2012:  Demolition and preliminary construction work is underway for the luxury 36Hazelton condo in Yorkville


36 Hazelton

August 30 2012: The facade of the historic St Basil’s School at 34 Hazelton Avenue will be incorporated into the new building …


36 Hazelton Condo building rendering

… as shown in this artistic rendering that appears on the 36Hazelton project website. The building has been designed by Toronto’s Quadrangle Architects.


133 Hazelton

Meanwhile, drilling and preliminary excavation work is underway three blocks up the street at the southeast corner of Davenport Road …


133 Hazelton

… where the 133 Hazelton Residences condo and townhouse complex will rise on the former site of an interior design showroom


133 Hazelton Residences

This artistic rendering of the building, designed by Toronto’s Page + Steele IBI Group Architects, appears on the 133 Hazelton Residences website


Low rise, high end: Construction has started in Yorkville on two Hazelton Avenue condo projects aimed at affluent real estate investors and purchasers.

Toward the south end of the tree-lined residential street, demolition work is underway on 36Hazelton, an 8-storey luxury condo and townhome complex being built on the site of the 84-year-old St Basil’s School, a city-designated heritage structure whose facade will be incorporated into the new development.



RCMI condo tower nearly 1/4 of the way up

RCMI condos

August 25 2012: The RCMI Residences condo building on University Avenue below Dundas Street has climbed above 10 floors on its way to 42


RCMI condos

August 25 2012: Simcoe Street view of the west side of the slender tower


RCMI Condos

This artistic rendering of the RCMI Residences tower once appeared on the website for its developer, Tribute Communities. It shows how the condo tower will compare to neaighbouring office highrises and hospitals on the west side of University Avenue


RCMI on the rise: Now that construction has climbed more than 10 floors, the condo tower being built on the site of the historic Royal Canadian Military Institute is beginning to make a big visual impact on University Avenue.

RCMI Residences will rise 42 storeys at 426 University Avenue, just below Dundas Street, and will tower above the adjacent office buildings to its north and south. The 312-unit building will include new facilities for the military institute on its first six floors, and will incorporate the rebuilt heritage facade of the RCMI’s 100-year-old headquarters, which had to be dismantled in 2012 to make way for condo construction.



Demolition of rear half of 1873-era heritage house heralds construction start for Karma condo tower

Karma condo site

August 27 2012: Formerly a surface parking lot, the 9-21 Grenville Street site for the Karma condo tower has been fenced off for the past several weeks …


Karma condo site

… and work to prepare the site for construction of the 50-storey tower has finally started with the demolition of the rear half of the heritage house at 21 Grenville …


21 Grenville Street Toronto

… seen here on March 12 2011. The front half of the 139-year-old building will be relocated to the northeast corner of the property and incorporated into the condo development.


Karma condos

This artistic rendering, from the Karma condos website, shows how the heritage house will be positioned beside the northeast corner of the sleek glass tower …


Karma condos

… which will contain 495 units and  soar 50 storeys near the northwest corner of Yonge and College Streets. Karma was designed by architectsAlliance.


Construction karma: Demolition work on a brick house dating back to the early 1870s has signalled the long-awaited start of construction on the Karma condo tower near the northwest corner of Yonge and College Streets.

When I passed the Karma site this afternoon, I saw that the rear half of the John Irwin House, a city-designated heritage building, has been demolished. The 2 1/2-storey house was built around 1873 as a residence for John Irwin, a local contractor and municipal politician who developed a series of properties along Grenville Street. The house was added to the city’s list of heritage properties in 2007. A city background file, prepared as part of the listing process, explained that the property has cultural heritage value “as one of the last surviving examples of a house form building in this area, and for its Second Empire stylistic features.”



Crane installed at Post House Condos site

Post House Condos

August 22 2012: George Street was closed between Richmond and Adelaide Streets today while a construction crane was installed on the Post House Condos construction site …


Post House Condos

… seen here from the west side of George Street as the crane installation work neared completion this afternoon


Crane up: Construction of the 21-storey Post House Condos will rev up now that a construction crane has been installed on site.

A project of Alterra Group, Post House Condos derives its name from its George Street location directly behind Toronto’s First Post Office at 260 Adelaide Street East — a historic building that dates from 1833.

Besides the 179-year-old post office, the condo highrise site tucked is behind two other heritage buildings on Adelaide East– the Bank of Upper Canada Building and the de la Salle Institute Building.



Berczy condo construction reaches 5th floor

The Berczy condos

August 15 2012: Construction of The Berczy condo building viewed from the south at the intersection of Church Street and The Esplanade


The Berczy condos

August 15 2012: Construction has reached four levels at the south end of the complex …


The Berczy condos

… five floors in the building’s midsection …


The Berczy condos

… and two floors along Front Street, across from the iconic Flatiron Building


The Berczy condos

August 15 2012: Construction progress viewed from the northeast on Front Street


The Berczy condo building

This artistic illustration from The Berczy website shows how the 13-storey building will look once construction is completed sometime early next year


Catching glances: While Toronto’s iconic Flatiron Building continues to attract strong interest from tourists exploring the St Lawrence Market neighbourhood, The Berczy condo building across the street seems to be catching more attention from locals — especially now that construction has climbed several levels above grade.



Highrise condo cluster could threaten character of leafy low-rise street near Yonge & Wellesley

Dundonald Street Toronto

The lush trees and gardens adorning the front yards of these brick homes on the north side of Dundonald Street could be imperiled by construction of up to four condo highrises …


17 Dundonald Street Toronto

… including an 18-storey tower that would incorporate parts of the brick, travertine and glass facade of this Modern-style office building constructed in 1956 at 17 Dundonald …


31-37 Dundonald Street Toronto

… a potential 18-storey condo on the site of these three-storey houses at 31-37 Dundonald, currently being offered for sale as a block for redevelopment …


22, 40 and 50 Wellesley Street East Toronto

… and two more condo towers, each at least 28 storeys tall, that would loom above Dundonald Street from this location on Wellesley Street East to the immediate south ….


40 Wellesley Street East Toronto

… including a 118-meter-tall (32 storeys) condo tower that a developer wishes to build on the site of this 5-storey office building at 40 Wellesley Street East …


50 Wellesley Street East condo site

… and a 28-storey condo, now being marketed to prospective purchasers, on the site of what is currently an empty lot at 46-50 Wellesley Street East


Dundonald doomed?: A quiet, tree-lined residential street in north downtown’s Church-Wellesley neighbourhood could lose much of its appeal, charm and character — and possibly even much of its lush greenery — if proposals for four condo towers in the area come to fruition.

Only one block long, Dundonald Street runs east-west between Yonge and Church Streets, just one block north of Wellesley Street. It’s among my favourite downtown streets, one I walk several times each week to avoid the noise, steady vehicular traffic and busy sidewalks of Wellesley Street. But my alternative walking route might lose its quiet, pleasant appeal in several years’ time if two highrise condo buildings get built on the south side of Dundonald, along with two more right behind them on the north side of Wellesley Street.



52-storey condo tower proposed for site of historic Selby Hotel on Sherbourne near Bloor

Clarion Selby Hotel & Suites

The Clarion Hotel & Suites Selby mansion at 592 Sherbourne Street is where celebrated writer Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, lived in the 1920s while Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star.


Tower and townhouses: A condominium complex featuring a 52-storey tower with a 4-level podium and 5 townhouses has been proposed for the site of an historic 130-year-old Victorian mansion on Sherbourne Street near Bloor Street.

Designed by architect David Roberts and constructed in 1882 for the founder of Toronto’s Gooderham and Worts Distillery, the mansion is perhaps best known as the residential hotel where Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway lived in the 1920s while working as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star.



Passersby get good street-level views of Burano as condo construction hoarding comes down

Burano Condos

June 13 2012: The Burano condo tower, viewed from the north on Bay Street, has long been in public view as the construction climbed 50 floors above the ground …


Burano Condos Toronto

… and the 3-storey glass atrium at the north side of the Burano condo site is finally in full view, too, now that hoarding has been removed from Grosvenor Street


Burano Condos Toronto

 June 13 2012: Landscaping and construction of an Italian-style piazza is underway next to the atrium on the Grosvenor Street flank of the condo complex


Burano Condos Toronto

June 13 201: Most of the rebuilt Bay Street facade of the historic Addison automotive building is now visible as construction hoarding is gradually removed from the sidewalk


Burano Condos Toronto

June 13 2012: The new Women’s College Hospital building (left) rises behind the Burano condo complex, viewed here from the southeast corner of Bay and Grenville Streets


Better views: Construction progress on the Burano Condominium on Bay Street has been clearly visible for many months as the tower climbed 50 storeys into the sky, but now passersby are getting to see how downtown’s newest skyscraper looks at street level.

With exterior work on the Burano tower nearly complete, crews have been able to begin removing the wooden hoarding and the chainlink security fences that have obscured street-level views of the building, including its signature glass atrium on Grosvenor Street and the rebuilt brick facade of the historic Addison on Bay automotive showroom and garage along Bay Street and Grenville Street.



Development plan in works for 81 Wellesley East?

81 Wellesley Street East Toronto

June 14 2012: A drilling machine sits in the vacant lot at 81 Wellesley Street East …


Odette House at 81 Wellesley Street East Toronto

… site of the former Odette House mansion, seen here on September 27 2011. Residents in the Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood were outraged when the building and its charming coach house were demolished without warning in January of this year.


Condo proposal coming? Almost six months after the contemptible demolition of an historic mansion on Wellesley Street East infuriated a city councillor and residents in the downtown Church & Wellesley neighbourhood, activity on the site suggests a development proposal for the property may finally be in the works.

For at least three days this past week, a crew and drilling machine could be seen working on different parts of the now-vacant lot at 81 Wellesley Street East. An area resident said he was told that the crew was taking soil core samples — a procedure which is often a precursor to property redevelopment.

Neighbourhood residents suspect that a developer will soon file an application with the city to erect either a condo or apartment building on the site — an application they have been expecting ever since the two buildings that once occupied the property were suddenly destroyed during the winter. Now, they’re nervously awaiting word about just how big and tall any proposed new building might be. (A city planner told me last winter that the site is suitable only for a low-rise or mid-rise building, and is not large enough to support a highrise condo tower. However, many area residents fear that a tower is exactly what’s in the pipeline.)




Living Shangri-la to unveil Zhang Huan sculpture

Living Shangrila hotel condo tower Toronto

May 4 2012: Rising, a dramatic sculpture by contemporary artist Zhang Huan, will be unveiled Saturday at this location outside the Living Shangri-la Toronto tower on University Avenue, between Richmond and Adelaide Streets


Living Shangrila hotel condo tower Toronto

May 4 2012: Workers prepare the giant sculpture for its official unveiling ceremony, scheduled for 1-2 pm tomorrow afternoon


Living Shangrila condo hotel tower Toronto

May 4 2012: The large-scale sculpture occupies a space at street level …


Living Shangrila condo hotel Toronto

… and soars above the glass ‘Ice Cube’ at the building’s NE corner …


Living Shangrila condo hotel Toronto

… seen here, from the University Avenue median to the east. This section of the building encloses a pool on the upper level, with a Momofuku restaurant on the floor below. The Momofuku Toronto is scheduled to open in August.


Taking flight: As construction of the 66-storey Living Shangri-la Toronto draws closer to completion, the building’s developer is set to unveil the dramatic sculpture it commissioned for the public art component of its project.

Full-page advertisements published in local newspapers this week announced that the art installation — Rising, by Shanghai and New York-based contemporary artist Zhang Huan — will be unveiled at a public ceremony Saturday afternoon from 1 – 2 p.m.