September 27 2011: The Wellspring property at 81 Wellesley Street East, which includes the 3-storey Odette House, has reportedly been sold for $4.5 million.
Tower proposal coming?: A condo highrise could be in the cards for the Church-Wellesley Village — the heart of Toronto’s lesbian and gay community — if news circulating in the downtown neighbourhood proves to be correct.
According to a Twitter post yesterday by Urbanation, a research and consulting firm that tracks Toronto’s condominium real estate market, 81 Wellesley Street East has been sold for $4.5 million, with a “future high-rise condo site planned.” The property, which includes the 5,000-square-foot, 3-storey Odette house fronting on Wellesley Street, and a 2,200-square-foot, two-storey coach house behind it, was owned by the Wellspring cancer support centre. Wellspring has been providing services to cancer patients, their families and their caregivers in the coach house since 1992, and expanded into Odette House in 2002. The Urbanation tweet did not identify the purchaser, nor did it provide any further details about possible redevelopment plans for the property, which is situated just a stone’s throw from the southeast corner of Church and Wellesley Streets.
However, the tweet did link to a Colliers International real estate listing for the property, which describes 81 Wellesley as a “rare boutique building” that is “free of any historical designation/listing” and offers “development potential.”
Neighbourhood residents weren’t completely surprised by news of the sale, since the Wellspring board of directors had announced nearly a year ago that the popular cancer support facility might have to be relocated and, last November, listed the property for sale. Then, in a June 9 relocation update on its website, Wellspring announced that its board was negotiating terms for a possible sale.
Wellspring decided to sell the property not only since it was outgrowing the site as it provided additional services to meet steadily growing demand, but also because it was becoming too expensive to operate from the two houses. “[t]he property at 81 Wellesley Street East requires a number of expensive repairs and renovations in the near-term, just to be maintained for, and accessible to, the growing number of cancer patients and families it serves,” the board explained in an October 2010 letter to Wellspring members and volunteers.
Although many neighbourhood residents had expected the Wellspring site to be snapped up by a condo developer, they’re now nervously wondering just how big a development might be in store for the long, narrow site. The block already boasts several midrise rental apartment buildings, but some people in the area worry that a tall condo tower could be coming — something they believe would have an adverse impact on the look, feel and character of the local community.
One resident who told me nearly two months ago that the sale of 81 Wellesley was imminent also said he has heard that a developer has a large condo tower in the works for the Wellspring site and the adjacent property to its west — a four-storey brick apartment building with street-level retail at the southeast corner of Church and Wellesley Streets. An H-shaped structure constructed in 1926, that building has street addresses of 77 Wellesley Street East and 501 Church Street. I asked a member of the City’s planning department staff last month if a condo tower has been proposed for the corner, and was told no development applications had been filed. However, the planner did say that since Church & Wellesley is among several downtown areas facing significant “development pressure,” it’s quite possible someone will seek to build a highrise there. (As of today, there were no development proposals for either property listed on the City’s planning application website.)
Below are several photos taken today of 81 Wellesley and the apartment/retail building next door.
September 27 2011: The south side of Wellesley east of Church Street includes the 10-storey rental apartment building at number 85, left, Wellspring’s Odette House at 81, and the 4-storey apartment/retail building on the southeast corner of Church & Wellesley Streets (largely obscured by the tree in front of Odette).
September 27 2011: Wellspring’s Odette House at 81 Wellesley Street East
September 27 2011: Odette House front entrance on Wellesley Street
September 27 2011: Odette House and the coach house at the rear of the lot
September 27 2011: Wellspring began offering services in the coach house in 1992 and acquired Odette House in 2002
September 27 2011: Odette House has not been listed or designated as a heritage property by the City of Toronto
September 27 2011: Odette House viewed from the northeast
September 27 2011: The two-storey coach house at the rear of 81 Wellesley Street East. A parking lot occupies the space between it and Odette House.
September 27 2011: Odette House viewed from the northwest
September 27 2011: The apartment/retail complex at the southeast corner of Church and Wellesley Streets, next door to Odette House.
September 27 2011: There is some speculation in the neighbourhood that a condo tower could be in the works for this property and 81 Wellesley to its east.
September 27 2011: Church Street view of the apartment/retail complex at the southeast corner of Church & Wellesley Streets