Tag Archives: CWNA

New development application proposes 28-storey tower for controversial site at 81 Wellesley East

81 Wellesley Street East Toronto

November 22 2013: A rainy morning view of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East in the Church-Wellesley Village …



81 Wellesley East Toronto

… where the City has posted this sign advising the public that a developer has applied to build a 28-storey residential tower on the site


New plan for Village site: A 28-storey residential tower with street-level retail space has been proposed for the Church-Wellesley Village site where a developer last year proposed building a 29-storey condo highrise in place of a Victorian-era mansion and coach house it had hastily demolished — much to the dismay and ire of neighbourhood residents.

The 182-suite, 95.7-meter-tall tower is proposed for 81 Wellesley Street East, former location of the Odette House mansion and coach house that for years had been occupied by Wellspring, a cancer support organization. Wellspring listed the property for sale when it decided to relocate to larger premises, and a small company called Icarus Developments acquired the site.


Odette House 81 Wellesley Street East

I shot this photo of the Odette House mansion at 81 Wellesley Street East on September 27 2011. The building, and a coach house behind it, were destroyed by the property’s new owner a little more than three months later.




Hope for new public park dims as Ontario Gov’t sells 11 Wellesley West lands for redevelopment

11 Wellesley West

Up to three office towers or highrise residential buildings could be in store for lands behind this wooden hoarding at 11 Wellesley Street West, seen here from the northeast at the corner of Wellesley and St Nicholas Streets. Last week, a deal was supposed to close under which the Ontario Government would sell the property and pass ownership to a so-far undisclosed buyer, at a so-far unknown price, for redevelopment purposes. The closing apparently has been delayed until February. See report below for further details.


11 Wellesley West

Hoarding along Breadalbane Street at the southwest corner of the 11 Wellesley West site. Since at least early 2011, downtown residents and neighbourhood associations have been pressing the City and provincial governments to create a new park or public greenspace on the vacant 2-acre property between Bay and Yonge Streets.


Hopes fading: A real estate transaction that was scheduled to close yesterday may dash many downtown residents’ dreams for the creation of a new public park on a vacant Wellesley Street West site surrounded by thousands of existing condo and apartment units, with thousands more on the way. But the local City Councillor has pledged to continue fighting for green space on the location.

Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told Tuesday night’s annual general meeting of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA) that Wednesday January 23 was the scheduled closing date for the sale of empty provincially-owned land at 11 Wellesley Street West. Barring an unforeseen event, she said, title for the land would rest in the hands of its new owner by 4.30 p.m. Wednesday.  [Editor’s Note: CWNA board of directors member Paul Farrelly posted this update on the CWNA’s Facebook page January 26: “Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been recently advised by the developer that the transaction will not close until the end of February. A visit on Thursday to Land Registry revealed a new construction lien for $650,000 was put on the property by a construction company on Jan 13,2013, but its not clear whether that has anything to do with the delayed closing.”]

Many in the CWNA audience had been hoping Councillor Wong-Tam would announce significant positive developments in her work to obtain at least some of the land for City park space, but she had no such good news to report in her brief update on the subject.  She could say only that the City will continue its efforts to secure part of the property from its new owner. The buyer has not yet been publicly identified.




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.)



Rally will urge Premier to create public park with vacant provincial land on Wellesley St W

wellesley green protest poster

This poster appears on the Save Wellesley Green Public Park Facebook page, and is being circulated by email by local neighbourhood associations and downtown residents


11 Wellesley Street West Toronto

Neighbourhood associations and city residents want the Ontario government to make government-owned surplus property behind the blue hoarding at 11 Wellesley St. W. available to the City for creation of a new public park


New park, please: Community groups and city residents concerned about the severe deficiency of downtown parkland have planned a rally for this afternoon to urge Ontario’s premier to make surplus government property on Wellesley Street West available for public green space.

At numerous public meetings I have attended during the past year, city planners, Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray all have acknowledged that downtown Toronto is “parkland deficient” with insufficient green space available for a population that is growing considerably faster than expected, thanks to the city’s ongoing condo building boom.

An opportunity to establish a new park or green space of some kind on Wellesley Street West lies within the provincial government’s grasp — after years of litigation, the Ontario government is finally able to do whatever it wants with a large piece of land at 11 Wellesley West, between Yonge and Bay Streets, that has sat vacant behind hoarding for most of the past decade. However, with eyes at Queen’s Park focussed on reducing Ontario’s enormous budget deficit, politicians seem more prepared to cash in on the condo craze by selling 11 Wellesley West and other surplus government land for redevelopment, rather than keeping it to create new parks for present and future generations of Torontonians to enjoy.




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.



Wellesley Street site touted as potential new park now listed for sale for highrise redevelopment

11 Wellesley Street potential city park site

The 11 Wellesley Street West site, viewed from the northeast last year …


11 Wellesley Street West Toronto

… and viewed today from the northwest on Wellesley Street near Bay Street


CBRE Limited website illustration of the Bay & Wellesley lands

This image, from a flyer on the CBRE Limited website,  shows an aerial view of the property now listed for sale for redevelopment


CBRE Limited website illustration of the Bay & Wellesley lands

This illustration, also from the CBRE Limited online flyer, suggests the highrise development potential for the 2-acre Ontario Government property


Park plans deep-sixed?: Downtown residents who were hoping a new public park would be created on provincial government property that has sat vacant near Yonge & Wellesley for years will be dismayed to learn that the land has instead been listed for sale for potential highrise redevelopment. Nevertheless, a city councillor plans to seek City Council approval to direct municipal real estate officials to negotiate acquisition of the property “for parkland purposes.”

A commercial real estate advertisement in today’s Globe and Mail newspaper touts the 2-acre “East of Bay” lands at 11 Wellesley Street West as a “downtown Toronto development opportunity.” The ad, published by real estate brokerage CBRE Limited, says the land “is located in a prime downtown residential development corridor,” and is “centrally positioned” between the city’s financial core and its tony Bloor-Yorkville district.



Developer gets city’s approval to raise One Bloor condo tower height from 70 to 75 storeys

One Bloor condo tower construction

June 13 2012: Excavation work continues at the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor Streets where Great Gulf Homes is building its One Bloor condo tower


Five more floors: One Bloor, the landmark condo tower under construction at the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor Streets, will be climbing five floors higher as a result of a Committee of Adjustment hearing at City Hall this week.

In an application to the committee, the project developer had requested a zoning bylaw variance that would allow it to raise the tower’s height from 70 to 75 storeys, as well as increase the building’s gross floor area from 55,910 square meters to 68,634 square meters.  The application was item number 26 on the Committee of Adjustment’s June 13 meeting agenda.




Dream still alive for green space or new park on boarded-up block of Wellesley Street West

11 Wellesley Street West Toronto

January 25 2012: The Ontario Government is examining its options to make a prime piece of real estate on Wellesley Street West available for new city green space. The vacant property has been surrounded by navy blue hoarding for years.


More parks for downtown?: City planners and politicians alike have admitted that the central downtown area, and particularly the district between College and Bloor Streets, is woefully deficient in public parks and green space. But at least one new park — and possibly several more — could be in the cards for the city core, according to an Ontario Cabinet minister.

Glen Murray, the MPP for Toronto Centre and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says the province is examining its options for making a vacant parcel of property on Wellesley Street West available to the city for redevelopment into green space or a park of some kind. Other provincially-owned lands in the downtown core also might become available for additional parkland, Mr. Murray told the first annual general meeting of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA) last night.




Neighbours planning Saturday “lawn occupation” to protest highrise plan for Church-Isabella corner

66 Isabella Street Toronto

January 5 2012: Neighbourhood residents are planning to gather Saturday at this private green space on the northwest corner of Church and Isabella Streets to protest a proposal to build a 23-storey residential tower on the site


66 Isabella Street Toronto lawn occupation notice

 This notice was posted today on the private facebook group page for the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA)


Occupy Isabella: Following on the heels of last autumn’s Occupy movement, a group of downtown residents is planning to gather at the northwest corner of Church and Isabella Streets for five hours on Saturday to protest a developer’s plans to construct a 23-storey residential highrise on the site.

As I reported in a December 14 2011 post, some residents in the Church-Wellesley area are angry that the city appears set to approve construction of a highrise addition to the 40-year-old apartment building at 66 Isabella Street. The addition — which would include 199 rental units plus 12 condominium suites in a 19-storey tower rising from a 4-storey podium — would be built on a 1,778-square-meter piece of property where a lawn and eight mature shade trees provide a private “park” atop the apartment building’s two-level underground parking garage. People in the neighbourhood are dismayed by the tower proposal because it would eliminate a sizeable, treasured green space in an area that city planners and politicians admit is sorely lacking in adequate public parkland.


Neighbourhood ‘green therapy’ jeopardized

“At present the lawn represents ‘green therapy’ for a wide community from as far away as Sherbourne Street and Bloor. Neighbourhood residents frequently choose to pass this corner on their way to and from work in order to enjoy the last bit of green space in an otherwise sterile landscape of steel, glass and pavement,” explains a notice posted on the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association facebook page today. (The CWNA’s facebook page is a “closed group” page accessible only by members who have been admitted to the group by moderators; currently, 350 people are signed up.)

Dog owners at 66 Isabella are disappointed they will lose a place to socialize while their pets enjoy the private “playground,” while tenants in 50 apartments on the east side of the building are upset that they will be forced to relocate for at least six months while their units are reconfigured to permit construction of the tower addition. “Many are seniors and have called it home for 30 plus years. Residents of the other 150 units who are already suffering deafening noise from the continuous construction of high rises on Charles Street will be exposed to another 18 months to two years of the same for 12 hours a day. Many of these residents are seniors, shift workers, home office workers or parents of small children,” the protest organizers state in the media release on the CWNA facebook page.

The organizers are calling for people to join residents of 66 Isabella in a “lawn occupation” being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday to protest the apparently imminent destruction of the lawn and trees. “The City of Toronto and East York Community Council meet next Tuesday, January 10, to decide the project’s fate. If Mohican Holdings (owners of 66 Isabella) get approval the destruction of the lawn and trees will be almost immediate,” the organizers state.


$450,000 for local streetscape and park improvements

The fate of the green space is indeed on the agenda for the January 10 meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council,  at which time the TEYCC will consider approving zoning amendments that would permit construction of the 23-storey tower addition. Passage of the amendments was recommended by city planners in a December 13 2011 background report about the tower proposal. “The proposed zoning by-law  amendment application is appropriate for the development of this site as it provides for a mixed-use development on an underutilized site and adds to the supply of purpose-built rental housing. The site is within the downtown core along Church Street and near the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.  There is already a mix of residential and commercial uses along Church Street and the proposed 23-storey addition to the east side of the existing building is an appropriate and compatible land use,” the planning report notes.

However, the planners recommended that the property owner be required to pay the city “$450,000 to be used toward local streetscape and park improvements” before  it can obtain its “first above-grade building permit for the development.”


66 Isabella Street Toronto

A view of the 66 Isabella private green space, looking to the northeast from Isabella Street this afternoon



Threat to corner green space alarms neighbours as approval of apt. tower addition appears imminent

66 Isabella Street Toronto

December 14 2011: This city notice, posted on the grounds of the 40-year-old rental apartment tower at 66 Isabella Street several days ago …


66 Isabella Street Toronto

… suggests that days are numbered for these eight trees and this open expanse of private green lawn at the northwest corner of Church & Isabella Streets …


66 Isabella Street tower development site

… which soon could be ripped up to make way for construction of a 23-storey addition to the apartment building rising behind the trees at left


Kiss the trees goodbye?: Church-Wellesley area residents are alarmed that the city appears poised to approve construction of a 23-storey addition to a rental apartment tower at the northwest corner of Church and Isabella Streets. Neighbours are upset not only since the construction will destroy eight mature trees and eliminate a large open green space in a downtown area that city planning staff admit is severely lacking in parkland, but also because they worry that the condo and rental unit addition to the 66 Isabella Street apartment tower could spark a wave of highrise development proposals for low-rise residential streets in the nearby Church & Wellesley village. And they fear for the fate of elderly tenants who will be displaced from their apartments on the east side of the apartment building, where suite layouts will have to be drastically reconfigured to accommodate hallways linking the addition to the existing structure.


32-storey addition initially proposed

The application for zoning amendments to allow construction of a highrise addition to 66 Isabella Street was filed with the city in late September 2010. Originally (and as I reported in a March 19 2011 post), the applicant proposed a 32-storey addition that would rise 95 meters (including mechanical penthouse), standing significantly taller than the 26-storey building to which it would be attached. The new wing would feature a 4-storey podium facing Isabella Street, with a 28-storey tower soaring above, with stepbacks at the 5th, 17th and 27th floors. The addition would include four condominium townhouses overlooking Isabella Street, 12 condominium suites on the top two floors of the tower, and retail stores along the Church Street flank of the complex. By adding 212 new suites, the addition would effectively more than double the number of residential units in the building. Most notably, the development would replace a large tree-shaded private yard which extends above the apartment building’s two levels of underground parking.


Private green space enjoyed by passersby

Although the lawn is private property, and signs advise that the yard is for the exclusive use of 66 Isabella residents only, people living, working and passing through the neighbourhood have long enjoyed its presence, particularly for its calm, cooling summer greenery and colourful fall foliage. But the greenery could be gone within weeks: a city notice was posted on the property last weekend, advising that an application to destroy the trees “to permit the construction of  a 23 storey addition” has been filed.

Though it now appears that the property developer has reduced the height of the proposed addition by 9 storeys, area residents remain dismayed at the prospect of any kind of development on the corner, and are disappointed by indications that the project will get the go-ahead from City Hall.

At a public meeting of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA) at the 519 Church Street Community Centre on Monday night, several area residents pleaded for people to strenuously oppose the proposal when it goes before the Toronto East York Community Council (TEYCC) for a statutory public meeting, which one Church Street resident said he has been told will take place on January 10. A man who identified himself as Morley urged the neighbourhood association to do whatever it can to “try to get [the project] killed.” If approved by the city, the addition to 66 Isabella will not only “kill the green space and stick a big huge block of building” in its place, he said, but will in turn spur further highrise development that will ruin “the character of the neighbourhood.”


City needs new rental accommodation

Another resident, who said he lives in the 48-unit Church-Isabella Co-Op across Church Street from the development site, said he has spoken to local City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam about the project, and is disappointed she isn’t supporting residents who object to the addition. He acknowledged, however, that the city desperately needs additional new rental accommodation, like the units proposed for the 66 Isabella addition, and said the project appears likely to get the nod from TEYCC no matter how strongly neighbourhood residents object. A woman told the meeting she was concerned for the welfare of senior citizens who have lived in apartments on the east side of 66 Isabella for decades, but will be forced to find new accommodation when construction commences. While several people at the meeting said they think losing the green space will be regrettable, they did concur with one man who said “we’re not anti-development, but we’re against development that takes away from the neighbourhood.”

As city planners noted in a November 15 2010 preliminary report, the original proposal for the tower addition offered to replace the 1,778 square meter (19,000 square feet) of ground-level green space with a 1,378 square meter (14,833 square foot) outdoor amenity area “on the private roof of the 4-storey podium and at the rear of the building at grade level.” It looks like area residents will have to wait until construction is complete in several years’ time to decide whether the building addition and its new amenity space adds to or takes away from the neighbourhood.


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.



Plug pulled on proposal to build 25-storey condo tower on heritage sites at Church & Gloucester

580 - 596 Church Street Toronto

August 22 2011: Heritage properties on the west side of Church Street between Dundonald and Gloucester Streets. The property owner has withdrawn plans to demolish some of the buildings and construct a condo tower in their place.


Glass ‘shoebox’ shelved: Dozens of residents in the downtown Church & Wellesley neighbourhood breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this month when a property owner formally withdrew its application to build a 25-storey condo tower on the site of several heritage properties along the west side of Church Street, between Dundonald and Gloucester Streets. The decision not to proceed with the development means, for the near future at least, that five charming brick buildings will not be either completely or partially demolished to make way for the tall glass and steel structure that had been proposed.

The heritage buildings had been threatened by a condo development plan filed with the City on April 9 2010. Property owner Church 18 Holdings Inc. wanted to build a 25-storey glass point tower with a podium ranging in size from 3 to 7 storeys. The project would have required the complete demolition of two listed heritage buildings and a 3-storey brick house built in 1909, along with partial demolition of two additional century-old buildings (also listed heritage properties) from which only the facades would have been retained.

Under Church 18’s proposal, the complex would have contained a total of 193 units, of which 158 would have been condos — in 1- and 2-bedroom configurations — and 35 would have been replacement rental apartments.  Condominium facilities and retail space would have occupied the ground level of the new building, while rental apartments would have been situated on floors 2 to 6.  Four townhouses and 10 “live-work” units would have been included in the podium.  Indoor and outdoor amenity spaces would have been provided on the top (7th) level of the podium, while condominiums would have occupied floors 8 to 25.

The development would have had a profound impact on half a dozen buildings constructed between 1873 and 1911, and would have drastically changed the look of an entire block in the area popularly known as Toronto’s Gay Village. Only one of the buildings would have remained largely intact: 580-582 Church Street, a 3-storey, Second Empire-style semi-detached house constructed in 1878 and added to the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1979. A popular restaurant location for years, the building presently is home to Fuzion Resto-Lounge and Sugo Trattoria, both of which have attractive outdoor dining terraces fronting on Church Street.  The rest of the buildings on the block would not have been as fortunate.

584 Church Street, a 3-storey detached house known as the Catherine Collard House, was built in 1909. In recent decades, it has been used for residential and commercial purposes, and is currently the home of Club 584 Salon and Spa. The building would have been demolished entirely to be replaced by the main entrance to the condominium tower.

592 Church Street is a 3-storey semi-detached building constructed in 1873. Known as the Wallace Millichamp House, it has been a walk-up rental apartment building for decades, and was listed on the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties in 2009. Only the front facade of the building would have been incorporated into the condo complex; the rest would have been destroyed.

596 Church Street is a 3-storey walk-up apartment building constructed in Edwardian Classical style in 1911 at the southwest corner of Church and Gloucester Streets. Part of the Gloucester Mansions, it was listed as a heritage property in 2009. Immediately to its west is 69 – 71 Gloucester Street, which was constructed in 1875 as a second part of the Wallace Millichamp House (the two buildings actually are connected).  It, too, contains rental apartment units. These buildings would have been completely demolished to make way for the condo tower and its podium.

67 Gloucester Street, another part of Gloucester Mansions, is a 3.5-storey walk-up rental apartment building constructed in 1911 and added to the City’s Inventory of Heritage Properties in 2009. Only its front bay and facade would have been retained as part of the condo complex; the rest of the building would have been demolished.

The condo plan drew swift and strong disapproval from the neighbourhood, not only since it proposed the demolition and partial destruction of several beloved heritage buildings, but also because it proposed to demolish nearly three dozen affordable rental apartments, and replace them (with presumably more expensive rental accommodation) in the new building. Indeed, the proposal galvanized area residents into organizing opposition to the development, and was a key catalyst for the creation of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA) last year. More than 150 people attended a community consultation meeting that the City held last December to obtain feedback about Church 18’s proposal, and reaction was overwhelmingly negative and critical. Many in the audience applauded and cheered in agreement when one man derided the proposed condo tower as an “ugly glass shoebox.”

City planners didn’t like many aspects of the plan, either. One drew cheers and applause when he told the December meeting that he would be opposing the development because of serious concerns about its proposed height and density, among other reasons. [A May 25 2010 preliminary report by the city planning department described the Church 18 proposal — and the issues it raised — in extensive detail.]

The condo proposal took an unexpected twist that delighted neighbourhood residents during this past winter when, as I reported in my March 14 2011 post,  the developer asked the City planning department for a six-month “hold” on its development application. Then, in mid-July, residents were further buoyed when Toronto City Council voted to declare its intention to designate the six historic buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act. [An April 17 2009 planning department report explained why the properties were recommended for inclusion on the city’s inventory of heritage properties, while a separate document elaborated on the historic significance of the Willace Millichamp House at 592 Church Street.]

[“Listing” and “designation” carry different legal weight when demolition or redevelopment is proposed for heritage properties. According to an explanation on the heritage preservation page of the City of Toronto website: “Listing” a property on the Inventory of Heritage Properties allows Heritage Preservation Services to review development and building applications affecting those properties. It also requires the owner to give the City 60 days notice of his or her intention to demolish the property. “Designation” confers a legal status on a property by a specific city by-law under the Ontario Heritage Act and gives City Council the legal authority to refuse an application that will adversely affect the property’s heritage attributes. Designation may fall under one of two categories under the Ontario Heritage Act: Part IV (individual property designation) or Part V (Heritage Conservation District designation). “]

Just 12 days ago, lawyers for Church 18 advised the City that the development applications were being withdrawn. Area residents and members of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association were thrilled to learn that the city had closed its files for the application, and even happier to see the project proposal signs being removed from the property several days later. However, their relief that the project isn’t proceeding has been tempered by the realization that the property owner can bring another redevelopment plan forward at any time. Unless and until that happens, the buildings will continue to grace Church and Gloucester Streets with their history, charm and character.

Below are recent photos of the Church and Gloucester Street heritage buildings.


580 and 582 Church Street

 580 Church Street, left, is home to Fuzion Resto-Lounge, while #582, right, is the location of Sugo Trattoria. Both restaurants have outdoor terraces.


584 Church Street

584 Church Street, center, is the former Catherine Collard House, built in 1909. It would have been destroyed and replaced by the condo tower entrance.


584 and 592 Church Street Toronto

584 Church Street, left, currently is home to Club 584 Salon and Spa, while 592 Church Street, right, has been a rental apartment building for decades


592 Church Street Toronto

 The Wallace Millichamp House at 592 Church Street was built in 1873. Only its  facade would have been retained if the condo plan had proceeeded.


Gloucester Mansions 596 Church Street Toronto

 The Gloucester Mansions apartment building at 596 Church Street was built in 1911. It would have been destroyed to make way for a condo tower


71 and 69 Gloucester Street Toronto

 71 Gloucester Street, left, is part of the Gloucester Mansion apartment building on the SW corner of Church Street. Number 69 Gloucester, right, is connected to the Wallace Millichamp House at 592 Church Street. Both would have been demolished if the 25-storey condo tower project had proceeded.


Gloucester Mansions at 67 Gloucester Street Toronto

 Only the facade of the Gloucester Mansions apartment building at 67 Gloucester Street would have been retained in the condo development plan that was withdrawn by the property owner two weeks ago


580 Church Street condo development proposal sign

 One of the condo development proposal signs that had been posted on the property for the past year. The signs were removed August 23.



Neighbourhood Watch: Developer asks city for 6-month hold on 25-storey Church St condo plan

580 Church Street condo proposal

Artistic illustration, from a former website for Church 18 Holdings, of the condo development proposed for the Church Street block between Gloucester and Dundonald Streets, now occupied by apartments, restaurants and a day spa.


580 Church Street condo development proposal

A Dec. 21 2010 view of the Church Street block proposed for redevelopment


6-month wait: A developer has asked the City for a six-month hold on its controversial application to redevelop a block of property in the Church Wellesley Village.

Just under one year ago, a developer sought City approval to redevelop properties it owns along the west side of Church Street, between Gloucester and Dundonald Streets. The properties include several low-rise apartment buildings as well as two brick mansions, one built in 1878, which currently are home to two popular Village restaurants and a day spa. 

The developer proposed to demolish some of the rental buildings and one of the mansions, constructing in their place a 25-storey condo tower atop a seven-storey podium.  35 replacement apartments would be built in the podium, while an additional 158 residences would be included in the condo complex.

The proposal drew considerable criticism and negative feedback at a community consultation meeting attended by more than 150 people in early December. A city planner drew cheers and applause from the audience when he told the meeting that the city did not support the application because of serious concerns with the project’s proposed height and density, among other issues.

According to the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association (CWNA), the developer recently requested a delay in the development application process. In a message to members of its Facebook page, the CWNA said the developer asked the city, at the end of February, to place a six-month hold on its application.

The CWNA message says the developer “has indicated that in 6 months time they will likely come back to the city with one of the following options: 1) withdrawing the application, 2) reducing the height on their revised option, 3) pursuing a totally different design scheme for the property, or 4) hiring a new team for a different design.” City planning rules specify that files can be put on hold for a maximum of six months. At that time, planners would have to advise the developer to either re-submit the application, or withdraw it. If the developer does nothing at that point, then the city could close the application.”

Below is a screenshot, from the CWNA website, of a building rendering and project details that city planners showed the audience at the December community meeting. There’s also a series of photos I’ve taken at various times of the properties involved in the redevelopment plan.


580 Church Street condo development proposal

Condo development proposal sign posted on one of the Church Street properties


580 Church Street condo development proposal rendering

Project details and an artistic illustration of the proposed condo complex, from a city planning department presentation to a community meeting held in December to provide neighbourhood feedback on the developer’s plan.


67 Gloucester Street apartment building

67 Gloucester Street apartment building on December 21 2010. According to the developer,  the building would be retained as part of the new condo complex.


71 Gloucester Street apartment building

71 Gloucester Street apartment building on December 21 2010


Gloucester Mansions on Gloucester Street

71 Gloucester Street at the corner of Church & Gloucester Street. Under the developer’s proposal, this building would be demolished and replaced by a 25-storey condo highrise with a 7-storey podium.


71 Gloucester Street and 67 Gloucester Street apartments

December 21 2010 view of 71 Gloucester Street and 67 Gloucester Street


71 Gloucester Street apartment building

Another view of the 71 Gloucester Street apartment buildings


Gloucester Mansions apartment building

November 1 2010 corner view of the Gloucester Mansions apartment building


596 Church Street Gloucester Mansions apartment building

Church Street view of the 596 Church Street Gloucester Mansions apartment building on December 21 2010


596 Church Street Gloucester Mansions apartment building

The Gloucester Mansions on November 1 2010


Gloucester Mansions apartment building

A November 1 2010 view of the 584 Church St. Salon & Spa, left, and one of the Gloucester Mansions apartments. Under the development plan, the spa mansion would be demolished and replaced with the main entrance to the condo, while the facade and part of the Gloucester Mansions building would be saved.


Fuzion and Voglie restaurants on Church Street

This elegant mansion at 580 – 582 Church Street was built in 1878. Much of the building, including the facade, would be incorporated into the condo development. The building currently is home to two restaurants: Fuzion, left, and Voglie.


Fuzion restaurant at 580 Church Street

Fuzion restaurant at 580 Church Street on December 21 2010. In summer, its patio is one of the most pleasant dining terraces in downtown Toronto.


Fuzion restaurant at 580 Church Street

November 1 2010 view of Fuzion on the corner of Church & Dundonald Streets


Fuzion restaurant viewed from Dundonald Street

Fuzion restaurant building viewed from Dundonald Street on February 15 2011


Dundonald Street view of Fuzion restaurant

Dundonald Street view of the Fuzion restaurant building on February 15 2011


580 Church Street proposed condo development site

A November 1 2010 view of the proposed condo development site