Category Archives: 2-8 Gloucester

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.)



Hollywood film director slams ‘bizarre’ condo tower proposal for Yonge & Gloucester

Norman Jewison Park Toronto

A 29-storey condo tower proposed for Gloucester Street would cast shadows on Norman Jewison Park as early as 3 pm each afternoon, and would block sunlight from Mr. Jewison’s offices in the 5-storey light-brown brick building at right …


18 Gloucester Lane Toronto

 … the former Rawlinson Furniture warehouse, constructed in 1878 at 18 Gloucester Lane just east of Yonge Street between Gloucester & Isabella Streets


No celebrity endorsement: I have attended a number of community consultation meetings the City has held in the last year to get feedback on proposed condo developments, but this past Tuesday night was the first at which one of Canada’s leading cultural icons stood up to express an opinion. And what world-renowned movie producer/director Norman Jewison had to say was anything but a celebrity endorsement for the condo tower project proposed for 2-8 Gloucester Street.

Mr. Jewison, 85, has offices in a 133-year-old building he owns immediately to the north of the potential condo development site. He told the meeting he was “amazed” that the condo proposal “has gotten so far,” because he had not even been advised that a tower might rise next door, just 3 meters from his windows.

Calling the condo plan “a bizarre idea,” Mr. Jewison expressed dismay that his building “will be completely in shade. Every single window in our building will now be looking into somebody’s bedroom. We’ll have no light. No sun. No view,” he said. “Everything is just squeezed in,” he added, referring to the compact site for the proposed L-shaped, 200,000-square-foot tower which, he said, would bring “a tremendous influx of people into this neighbourhood.”

The acclaimed director and producer of more than two dozen major Hollywood movies which have collectively received 46 Oscar nominations and won 12 Academy Awards, Mr. Jewison was among 25 people who commented on the condo proposal during the two-hour meeting.

As I have previously reported in posts on October 11 2011 and June 22 2011, a developer has applied to the City for zoning changes to permit construction of a 29-storey tower with 211 condominium units next to two heritage buildings at the corner of Yonge and Gloucester Streets. In an August 15 2011 background report, city planners identified 12 main issues with the development plan, and recommended that a community consultation meeting be held to obtain public feedback on the proposal. On September 12 2011, Toronto and East York Community Council directed staff to arrange the consultation session, and the meeting took place this past Tuesday evening at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.

Although many downtown residents and people involved in the condo development industry believe that the ultimate fate of the 2-8 Gloucester project could set the tone for further highrise projects along Yonge Street, turnout was lower than expected. I counted just over 50 people in the room midway through the meeting, but at least 15 of those were city officials, including Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, and the developer’s team of professional consultants and advisors.

Chaired by city planner Diane Silver, the meeting featured presentations by the developer’s planning consultant, Craig Hunter, and its architect, David Pontarini of Toronto’s Hariri Pontarini Architects. They led the audience through a slideshow of illustrations, renderings and photos that suggested how the proposed condo tower might look, and how it would visually and physically impact the surrounding neighbourhood.

Mr. Hunter said the developer has been working with its architects and other consultants for more than a year and half to develop its condo proposal. He said the parties realized the project had to be “sensitive” to the linear park and low-rise neighbourhood to its east, and also had to address transportation, heritage and density concerns. He called the proposal filed with the city “a very compatible fit with the existing mix of buildings in the area.”

Mr. Pontarini noted that his firm has “extensive involvement on North Yonge,” having designed the 45-storey FIVE Condos project currently under construction one block southwest of 2-8 Gloucester, as well as the 70-storey One Bloor condo tower presently being built three blocks north. Hariri Pontarini also was one of the consultants involved in the City of Toronto’s Tall Buildings Downtown Project. “We’re very interested in what’s happening along Yonge Street” and in Yonge Street historical preservation, Mr. Pontarini said, adding that the 2-8 Gloucester project “shows how development could occur along Yonge Street.”

His slide illustrations showed that the project calls for the 1878 Masonic Hall building at 2 Gloucester (a City-designated heritage building that now contains street-level retail, along with upper-level offices and condo units) to be preserved and restored, while the building at 8 Gloucester Street (listed, but not yet designated by the City as a heritage building) probably would be pushed forward closer to Gloucester at the southeast corner of the site. No decision has yet been made as to whether that building will be moved in its entirety, or dismantled and reassembled in the new location. Currently occupied by a restaurant and a nightclub, 8 Gloucester would become a “retail component” of the condo development, Mr. Pontarini said.

The condo entrance, forecourt and lobby would be situated off Gloucester Street, but the developer and architects are still considering “how to position the entrance,” Mr. Pontarini said. All service access to the condo would be from Gloucester Lane, including access to an elevator that would move cars into and out of the two-level, 34-space underground parking garage. Mr. Pontarini did acknowledge that city planners are “not happy with the transitions” that have been proposed between the tower and the two heritage buildings, and said the developer’s team will have to take another look at their design plans. “We want to do something remarkable because it [2 Gloucester] is a remarkable building,” he said.

Audience reaction to the proposal was mixed. I found it curious that several people who spoke in favour of the development used the exact same words, all saying they wanted to  “commend” the developer, and all saying they found the glass tower design “intriguing” and “interesting.” One supporter said he thought the development would be “a plus for the neighbourhood,” while another said she thinks it “will upgrade the neighbourhood and make it more beautiful,” since the project will “improve amenities” in the area. But people who voiced criticism of the development, including several Gloucester Street residents, complained that they haven’t seen any amenity improvements in the area since three major condo towers were built close by on Charles Street.

At least six people objected to the tower’s height, including several who identified themselves as members of the recently-established Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA). One man complained that a 29-storey tower will be “a looming force over the Yonge Street heritage strip,” while another agreed that the tower “doesn’t work with existing buildings” nearby, and “overwhelms” the two heritage buildings incorporated into the development. A third concurred that the project “breaks the context of the low-rise neighbourhood.” 2 Gloucester is “the Crown jewel of Yonge Street between Bloor and College,” he said, but the condo tower would completely “wreck” that context. And a woman who identified herself as a member of the Bay Cloverhill Community Association (BCCA) argued that the condo would be nearly three times too tall as it should be for an area characterized by so many heritage buildings. “The last best piece of heritage left on Yonge Street” is along the strip from Grenville Street to Charles Street, she said, offering the view that “Yonge Street should become a heritage street from top to bottom.” When she asked: “What could you do with a 10-storey building on the lot instead?”, Mr. Hunter replied that it was “not likely” that the developer would work toward building a shorter condo.

Pointing out that most units in the condo tower will be studios or 1-bedrooms, one Gloucester Street resident said she wanted to know “Where do families fit in?” Although the development was being “sensitive to Yonge, what about the side streets?” she asked. “What are you bringing to our neighbourhood?” She noted that, not only would the tower block Mr. Jewison’s office building views and sunlight, but studies showed it would cast shadows on the adjacent Norman Jewison Park — one of the few public green spaces in the area — as early as 3 p.m. each day. Mr. Hunter responded that it was possible some of the condo units could be redesigned in a “convertible” configuration of 2-bedroom plus den or 3-bedroom styles that would be suitable to families. As for what the developer would be doing for the neighbourhood, he said it was proposing “custom crafted” amenities. It had plans to “transform” Gloucester Lane into “a more pedestrian feel,” he said. And while he admitted that the tower would cast afternoon shadows on Norman Jewison Park he said that, with any development, “there are gives and takes.” And, he pointed out, the City’s own mixed-use designation for the site “is meant to accommodate growth.”

Several speakers weren’t critical of the condo plan per se, but of the problems that would be posed by a new building that would bring several hundred more residents into the neighbourhood without a corresponding expansion of city services and resources, especially for transportation. Even though the tower would rise along a subway line, two speakers pointed out that the Yonge subway is already stressed and overcrowded, so adding more residents to the Yonge Street strip will only make a bad problem worse. “That has to be addressed,” said one area resident who complained about subway congestion. Another said it was “incongruous” that the city would consider further intensification in the neighbourhood without balancing that off with improvements to public transit.

And in what I thought was a novel argument, one man said he thought the city must allow the tower to be built because people who will move to downtown Toronto in future years have a “right” to live in buildings such as the one proposed for Gloucester Street.

Getting back to Mr. Jewison, who was upset to learn about what he repeatedly called a “bizarre project” only after the public consultation meeting was scheduled. Mr. Hunter said he had believed someone had contacted Mr. Jewison’s family to discuss the condo development proposal, and had not received any objection to the plan. Nevertheless, he apologized to Mr. Jewison for the oversight in not contacting him directly.

Below are several photos I shot today, showing Mr. Jewison’s building and the proposed condo tower site.


Rendering of condo tower proposed for 2 Gloucester Street

This rendering of the 29-storey condo tower proposed for 2-8 Gloucester Street appears on a zoning application sign posted outside the building site


Masonic Hall heritage building at 2-8 Gloucester Street Toronto

October 14 2011:  The 1878 Masonic Hall heritage building at the northeast corner of Yonge and Gloucester Streets, viewed from the southwest. The proposed condo tower would rise to the right of the five-storey brown brick building.


2-8 Gloucester Street Toronto viewed from the east

 October 14 2011: Looking northwest from Norman Jewison Park toward the proposed condo tower location at 2-8 Gloucester Street


2-8 Gloucester Street Toronto tower location

October 14 2011:  The proposed 29-storey condo tower would be built where the two-storey building is situated. Canadian movie producer/director Norman Jewison owns the five-story building on the right, at 18 Gloucester Lane


18 Gloucester Lane Toronto

October 14 2011: Mr. Jewison’s building at 18 Gloucester Lane, viewed from the linear park that the City of Toronto named in the film director’s honour


18 Gloucester Lane Toronto

October 14 2011: Looking up the east side of 18 Gloucester Lane. The 5-storey brick building was constructed in 1878.


18 Gloucester Lane Toronto

October 14 2011: A street-level view of 18 Gloucester Lane, location of the offices for Mr. Jewison’s Yorktown Productions Ltd.


18 Gloucester Lane Toronto

October 14 2011: Looking up at the south side of 18 Gloucester Lane. The proposed condo tower would rise only 3 meters away from Mr. Jewison’s building.



Public gets to give feedback at city meeting tonight for 29-storey Gloucester Street condo proposal

2 Gloucester Street Toronto

A community consultation meeting notice posted outside the 519 Church Street Community Centre advertises tonight’s public feedback session …


2 Gloucester Street Toronto

… for a 29-storey condo tower proposed for 2-8 Gloucester Street, seen here in an illustration on a city zoning notice outside the building site


Public feedback: What do the neighbours think? That’s what city planning officials will find out this evening during a community consultation meeting being held to gather feedback on a condo highrise planned for the northeast corner of Yonge and Gloucester Streets.

The two-hour presentation and question-and-answer session, taking place at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, will review plans for a 29-storey glass condo tower that would rise next to a 5-storey red brick heritage building constructed in 1888 as a Masonic Hall.

The heritage building, now known as Gloucester Mews, has street-level restaurant and retail tenants, and condominium suites on its upper levels. It would be kept intact as part of the proposed highrise condo development.  A 2.5-storey semidetached building next door, at 8 Gloucester Street, would be “rehabilitated” and incorporated into the base of the proposed highrise , though the rear of the building and an addition behind 6 Gloucester Street would have to be demolished to make way for the condo tower.  6 Gloucester is currently the location of Fire on the East Side restaurant, while 8 Gloucester is home to Olympic 76 Pizza and Fly Nightclub.

Although the 29-storey height of the proposed tower is modest, and though the development would save the historic Masonic Hall, many people in the area believe the condo highrise has serious drawbacks, and are concerned about its potential negative impact on their neighbourhood.

Besides usual concerns about traffic congestion and related issues posed by increased population density on the street, residents are not happy that the development will eliminate two popular outdoor restaurant patios and require the destruction of several mature shade trees on Gloucester Street.  They point out that people are attracted to live downtown not only because of its convenience to transit and workplaces, but also because of the proximity of appealing city amenities like restaurants and bars. And though Torontonians clearly love their downtown patios, fewer than 20 remain on or near Yonge Street along the stretch between Bloor and College Streets. The Fire on the East Side and Olympic 76 Pizza patios will be lost in the 2-8 Gloucester development, while several more patios are threatened by condo development proposals for other nearby Yonge Street locations. Residents worry that the continuing loss of restaurant terraces will rob the neighbourhood of charm, vitality and liveliness. (The street-level Brownstone Bistro & Bar in the Masonic Hall will remain, however, as will its outdoor terrace on Gloucester Street.)

Residents also consider the Yonge-Gloucester intersection to be a gateway to the Church-Wellesley residential area to the east of Yonge Street, and feel that the loss of the tree-shaded patios would be detrimental to this important element of their streetscape. (The building owner told me last month that the trees must be destroyed to permit construction; however, he said he intends to plant as many replacement trees as possible afterwards.) Moreover, there is concern that the tower could cast shadows over adjacent Norman Jewison Park, one of the few public green spaces in the neighbourhood. And some believe that a tall glass box simply doesn’t suit the district’s character.

Below are some recent photos of the 2-8 Gloucester site; additional photos appeared in my June 22 2011 post about the condo proposal.


2 Gloucester Street Toronto

Development proposal sign outside 2-8 Gloucester Street


Irwin Avenue Toronto

July 9 2011: Looking east along Irwin Avenue toward the Masonic Hall building at the corner of Yonge & Gloucester Streets. The proposed 29-storey glass condo tower would rise behind the red brick heritage building.


2-8 Gloucester Street Toronto

July 7 2011: The tree-shaded terraces outside Fire on the East Side and Olympic 76 Pizza on Gloucester Street would be lost as a result of the condo development.


2-8 Gloucester Street Toronto

July 8 2011: These mature shade trees would be destroyed to permit construction of the condo. However, replacements would be planted afterwards.


Norman Jewison Park Toronto

June 30 2011: Looking west across Norman Jewison Park toward the Gloucester Street site on which the proposed condo tower would rise


Gloucester Lane Toronto

July 8 2011: Gloucester Lane extends from Gloucester Street north to Isabella Street. The 2-8 Gloucester condo tower would rise on the left side of the lane.


Norman Jewison Park Toronto

July 8 2011: Norman Jewison Park, looking north from Gloucester Street. Some neighbours are concerned about the tower’s shadow impact on this park, one of the few public green spaces in the area.


Northeast corner of Yonge & Gloucester Streets Toronto

October 11 2011: The Gloucester Mews (Masonic Hall) building at the northeast corner of Yonge & Gloucester Streets. The Brownstone Bistro & Bar and its outdoor patio on the corner would remain, but the two restaurant terraces to its east would be lost when the condo highrise is constructed.


Condo tower in the works for 2 Gloucester Street?

Gloucester Mews at 2 Gloucester Street Toronto

June 22 2011: Constructed  in 1888, the Gloucester Mews building at 2 Gloucester St. / 601 Yonge St. was originally a Masonic Hall. A rezoning application for the property has been filed with the City.


How big? How tall?: Originally constructed as a Masonic Hall, and currently housing loft condos, retail shops and restaurants, the elegant red brick Gloucester Mews building that has graced the northeast corner of Yonge & Gloucester Streets for the past 123 years could soon become part of a condo tower development project.

According to a development projects entry on the City’s website, an official plan amendment and rezoning application for 2 Gloucester Street was filed earlier this month. However, the website provides no further details about the June 10 application, such as the size or height of whatever building a developer may be planning for the site.

It’s no secret that the heritage building and its next-door neighbours to the east — the Fire on the East Side restaurant and bar at 6 Gloucester Street, along with Olympic 76 Pizza and Fly Nightclub at 8 Gloucester Street — have been in property developers’ sightlines for quite some time. Architects and urban planning consultants identified the properties as a suitable condo tower site several years ago, and city planners told public meetings I attended this past spring that highrise condo development on the corner site was inevitable. Also this spring, word circulated amongst area residents that the Fire on the East Side building had been sold to a developer. What hasn’t been certain, though, is just how big and how tall a developer will seek to build there. I expect those details will be released soon. And until that information is available, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Gloucester Mews — one of my favourite downtown buildings — will be retained as part of whatever development occurs, rather than being reduced to a mere facade. I’m sure many Toronto heritage enthusiasts will be hoping and praying that it’s left alone, too, but I won’t be surprised if it isn’t.

According to architectural journalist Patricia McHugh’s Toronto Architecture: A City Guide (Mercury Books 1985), the Gloucester Mews/Masonic Hall was for “many years the tallest building on Yonge Street north of Dundas.” She noted that the Masons met in a fourth floor hall “for 33 years until 1921 when a new Masonic building was constructed at Davenport and Yonge.”  In 1972, the firm Adamson Associates renovated the Masonic Hall, joining it to the “Bay-n-Gable” house at 8 Gloucester with a two-storey glass link. “Though still called Gloucester Mews, the shops-around-a-courtyard mews plan was early abandoned to allow Fenton’s Restaurant to fill the glass-covered interior space as well as the old house,” McHugh wrote.

Below are some photos I snapped this afternoon of Gloucester Mews and its neighbours. 


Gloucester Mews building at 2 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: Lower south side of Gloucester Mews building


Gloucester Mews at 2 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: Upper floors of the 5-storey Gloucester Mews building


2 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: The gated entrance to 2 Gloucester Street is next door to the Fire on the East Side restaurant and bar at 6 Gloucester Street (right)


Fire on the East Side at 6 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: Fire on the East Side restaurant & bar at 6 Gloucester


Olympic 76 Pizza and Fly nightclub at 8 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: Olympic 76 Pizza and Fly nightclub at 8 Gloucester Street


2, 6 and 8 Gloucester Street viewed from the east

June 22 2011:  2, 6 and 8 Gloucester viewed from Gloucester Lane


Laneway and parking lot next to 8 Gloucester Street

June 22 2011: Looking south on Gloucester Lane outside the “back” (east side) of 8 Gloucester Street. The Norman Jewison Parkette extends from Isabella to Gloucester Streets on the other side of the parking strip.