Category Archives: 501 Yonge

Public gets opportunity to weigh in tonight on controversial condo tower plan for 501 Yonge

501 Yonge Street condo development proposal sign

One of the development proposal signs that has been posted on each side of the 501 block of Yonge Street since last spring


501 Yonge Street proposed condo tower site

November 6 2011: The 501 Yonge Street block seen from the southwest


501 Yonge Street proposed condo tower site

November 6 2011: The 501 Yonge Street block viewed from the northwest


Glass wall: Toronto residents get their chance tonight to tell city planners what they think of a controversial proposal to build two 58-storey condo point towers atop a 7-storey rectangular glass podium on the east side of Yonge Street, between Alexander and Maitland Streets.

The community consultation is the second meeting city officials scheduled for this week to get public input on a major condo tower development plan by Lanterra Developments, a 10-year-old Canadian company that boasts sales of more than 6,000 condo units in downtown Toronto.

At the first, held two nights ago, Lanterra and architect Peter Clewes of Toronto’s architectsAlliance were on the hot seat during a community consultation over Lanterra’s ambitious plans for a massive 4-tower condo complex that would revitalize three blocks of long-neglected property along Bloor and Howard Streets in North St James Town. During that meeting (which I’m planning to report soon in TheTorontoBlog), at least 30 people stood up to speak their mind with overwhelmingly negative comments and observations.  Tonight, city planners and Lanterra’s team face Toronto residents again at a session that many people expect will be equally raucous and critical.

Tonight’s community consultation was requested by Toronto and East York Community Council, one of four groups of city councillors that make recommendations and decisions about local planning and development, as well as neighbourhood-specific issues within their jurisdiction. The session will give city residents an opportunity to review, ask questions about and express their opinions on Lanterra’s application to redevelop the low-rise 501 block of Yonge Street with a condo project that is vastly taller and denser than present zoning bylaws permit.

As noted in a May 30 2011 background report by city planners, Lanterra wants to build two 58-storey residential towers that would rise from one 7-storey podium. The podium would include two levels of retail space with five floors of parking above them (parking must be built above grade because the Yonge subway line runs diagonally beneath the entire 501 Yonge site). Each tower would contain 480 condo units and have its own lobby entrance; the north tower’s would be off Maitland Street, while the south tower lobby would be accessed from Alexander Street. The towers would soar 192 meters (including mechanical penthouse) and would be constructed in two phases, with the podium and south tower being built first.

Under current zoning regulations for the 501 Yonge site, the maximum permitted density is 3 times the lot area, with 2 times the lot area for commercial uses and 3 times the lot area for residential uses,” the city planners’ report notes. “The maximum height permitted is 18 metres.” However, Lanterra’s proposed condo complex would be 20 times the permitted density, with the height “significantly” exceeding what is presently allowed.

The size and height of the project horrifies many area residents, who fear that the podium’s enormous glass wall and the soaring towers above it will ruin the historic low-rise character of north Yonge Street (the section between College and Bloor Streets), destroy the pedestrian ambience on the street, and wreck what they consider to be “gateways” to the nearby Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood — the tree-shaded outdoor dining and bar patios on the Alexander and Maitland ends of the block.

The consultation starts at 6.30 pm in the 2nd-floor auditorium at the Grosvenor Street YMCA.

Below are drawings, from the city planners’ report, that show the proposed elevations for the 501 Yonge complex, along with some photos and a video I have taken of the project site. 


501 Yonge west elevation drawing

This illustration, from city planning documents, depicts a west elevation for the proposed two-tower complex


501 Yonge south elevation drawing

From the city planners’ report, this drawing depicts a south elevation for the rectangular 7-storey podium and 58-storey point towers


Yonge Street viewed from Alexander Street

 A view of Yonge Street looking north from Alexander Street on June 30 2011. Many neighbourhood residents fear the Lanterra project would overwhelm and destroy the historic low-rise character of Yonge Street.


The tree-shaded outdoor patios for Kokyo Sushi and Pi-Tom’s Thai Restaurant on Alexander Street would be replaced with the south tower’s lobby.


SE corner of Yonge & Maitland Toronto

Two more patios would be lost at the north end of the block …


La Cocina Lucero patio at 501 Yonge Street Toronto

… including the Cocina Lucero restaurant patio at the corner of Yonge & Maitland …


Lola and Cocina Lucero patios on Maitland Street Toronto

… and the terrace for Lo’La martini bar to the east, at the corner of Maitland Street and Maitland Terrace




Developer proposes two 58-storey condo towers to replace retail/restaurant strip at 501 Yonge Street

510 Yonge Street strip of retail shops and restaurants

May 13 2011: The 501 Yonge Street strip of retail shops and restaurants, viewed from the southwest corner of Yonge & Grosvenor Streets


Going big & tall on Yonge: In my Ripe for Redevelopment post on April 14 2011, I wondered what Lanterra Developments was planning to do with the 501 Yonge Street strip of restaurants and retail shops it had recently purchased — as well as when it was going to announce its plans. When I walked past 501 Yonge last week, I knew something was imminent because three of the former retail tenants have moved out, leaving suspiciously empty storefronts. Now I know what’s happening with the property — or should I say, what the developer hopes will happen.

The company has filed a development application with the city to build a mixed-use complex that would include two 58-storey condo towers and an entirely new retail strip along Yonge. The towers would soar 190 meters from a 7-storey podium featuring retail space at street level plus five levels of parking above that. The complex would contain 960 condo units, 302 residential parking spaces and 58 parking spots for visitors. Lobbies for the condo towers would sit at opposite ends of the block: the north tower lobby would be on Maitland Street, while the south tower lobby would be on Alexander Street. The city’s development application notice says that driveway and service access to the complex would be from Maitland Place; however, that’s clearly a mistake because Maitland Place is a one-block street two blocks east, between Homewood Avenue and Jarvis Street. They must have meant Maitland Street.

The city received the application only on May 5, so no community consultation meeting has been scheduled yet, nor has the developer publicly released renderings of its proposed towers. But I’m sure there will be strong opposition to the towers’ sheer height from some area residents, particularly those in the 18-storey Cosmopolitan condo building at 25 Maitland Street, which would be absolutely dwarfed by the 501 project. Will keep you posted on further news about this project. Below are two more pics from this afternoon, showing the vacant storefronts.

vacant retail shops at 501 Yonge Street

May 13 2011: Looking northeast toward the vacant retail outlets at 501 Yonge


vacant shops at 501 Yonge Street

May 13 2011: A body piercing shop is bookended by empty retail space; the 18-storey Cosmopolitan condo building on Maitland Street is visible at left rear


Ripe for redevelopment: What’s Lanterra going to do with the 501 block on Yonge Street?

Retail stores along the 501 block of Yonge Street

February 20 2011: Restaurants and shops along the 501 block of Yonge Street, viewed from the southwest corner of Yonge and Breadalbane


Businesses on the 501block of Yonge Street

February 20 2011: Looking north toward the 501 block of Yonge Street from the southeast corner of Yonge & Grosvenor Streets

Lanterra land: I wasn’t surprised when a city planner told a neighbourhood association meeting I attended nearly a month ago that Lanterra Developments had purchased the entire 501 block of Yonge Street, from Alexander Street at the south to Maitland Street at the north. I live only a few blocks away and for years have been wondering, each time I have walked past, why someone hasn’t redeveloped the long two-level building with either a bigger retail complex or a condo or office tower. Parts of the block have had a rather shabby and almost run-down appearance for years and, since it’s only two storeys tall on a prime section of the city’s main strip, it looks like it’s practically begging for someone to replace it with something bigger and better.

I always thought it might be impossible to build a larger, taller structure on the site because the Yonge subway line passes beneath part of the property between the Wellesley and College stations. However, the city planner said that while the subway tunnel presents a challenge for redevelopment, it’s not insurmountable. It likely means there would be a very limited amount of space available for underground floors and parking, he said, but above-grade parking levels would solve that problem nicely.

Lanterra hasn’t yet filed a development application with the city, nor has it publicly announced any plans for the site. But I’m keen to see what changes it envisions for 501 Yonge. The upside to redevelopment here is that a Lanterra building would greatly enhance Yonge Street by classing up what is basically a tacky, cheap-looking retail strip. Any civic and private effort to revitalize Yonge between College and Bloor Streets certainly would get a huge boost if Lanterra improved this particular block. The downside is that small independent businesses, like many of the shops and restaurants currently operating here, probably couldn’t afford the significantly higher rents that would be charged for commercial streetfront space in a new development. As much as I’d like to see this section of Yonge Street spruced up,  and even though I don’t care for most of the businesses along this block, I would probably regret seeing them replaced with outlets for ubiquitous international retail chain stores, fast food franchises and coffee shops. There’s already enough of those establishments elsewhere on Yonge and throughout the downtown core. More of them here would detract from Yonge Street’s quirky character and the strip’s unique look and feel.

Below is a link to an online album with a few dozen photos showing all four sides of the 501 Yonge block, the block on the opposite side of Yonge Street, and other nearby buildings.

Editor’s Note: I regret that access to the online album is no longer available. The album had been available on; however, on December 1 2012 the Webshots site was shut down by the company that owns it.