Tag Archives: heritage building

52-storey condo tower proposed for Grenville St. parking lot site near Yonge & College Streets

9 Grenville Street site for proposed condo tower

A northwest view of the proposed condo tower site at 9 – 21 Grenville Street on March 12 2011. Toronto police headquarters is the blue-domed building at left. In the middle background is the 35-storey Murano north condo tower.


9 Grenville Street proposed condo tower site

The condo development site viewed from Grenville Street, looking southeast, on March 12 2011.  At left is the 2 Carlton Street office building; in the middle background are The Met condo towers on Carlton Street.


9 Grenville Street proposed condo tower site

Grenville Street view of the development site, looking south on January 10 2011. The College Park office, condo and retail complex is just half a block to the south.


Intersection of Yonge Street and College Street Toronto

The proposed 52-storey condo building would tower above the northwest corner of Yonge and College Streets, seen here March 12 2011. The beige building at the left is The Gallery, a 27-storey apartment highrise at 25 Grenville Street.


Will Grenville Street grow up? What is now a side street parking lot near police headquarters could become the second-highest building in the Yonge & College area if Lifetime Developments gets City approval for its latest condo tower development proposal.

Lifetime wants to construct a 52-storey condo on the south side of Grenville Street, just a stone’s throw west of Yonge Street. The development is planned for properties at 9 – 21 Grenville Street, currently occupied by a parking lot and a three-storey brick heritage house.

Lifetime’s tower would rise 167 meters to the top of its penthouse-level mechanical facility, and would have 438 residential units in bachelor, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom configurations. Part of the heritage building would be incorporated into the condo complex and would hold 120 square meters of retail space. There would be five levels of underground parking for vehicles and bicycles.

The condo would rise in a prime downtown location less than a block from the Carlton streetcar route and the College station on the Yonge subway line. At 167 meters, it would become the neighbourhood’s second-tallest tower (the 75-storey Aura condo, currently under construction just one block to the south at College Park, will stand 264 meters).

9 Grenville’s height, which is more than 3.5 times as tall as city zoning presently allows for the area, is just one element of the proposal with which municipal planning officials and neighbourhood groups take issue. A background file prepared for the Toronto and East York Community Council lists 15 different concerns with the proposal, including height, density, parking, heritage and traffic impacts, mix of unit sizes and the building’s relation to the streetscape.

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood’s Bay Cloverhill Community Association identified numerous practical issues that it planned to raise at a community consultation meeting last month.

Below are building elevation and site plan drawings that had been submitted to the City planning department, along with recent photos I’ve taken of the proposed tower site and surrounding area.


9 Grenville Street condo development proposal

Condo tower development proposal sign posted at 9 Grenville Street


9 Grenville Street condo tower development proposal

North and east elevation drawings for the proposed condo tower


9 Grenville Street condo tower development proposal

Site plan drawing for proposed 9 Grenville Street condo tower


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

Grenville Street view of the proposed tower site on November 15 2010


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

Grenville Street southeast view of the site on November 15 2010


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

The eastern half of the site, seen here on January 10 2011. The historic College Park building is visible on College Street just half a block south.


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

A January 10 2011 view of the heritage building at 21 Grenville St.


The heritage house at 21 Grenville Street

The designated heritage building at 21 Grenville Street,  the John Irwin House, was built in 1873. The front half would be kept as part of the condo complex.


9 - 21 Grenville Street condo tower development site

The development site viewed from the north side of Grenville St.


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

The parking lot where the tower would rise, seen here on January 10 2011


Wood Street view west toward Yonge Street

Wood Street westerly view toward the proposed condo site on March 12 2011. The 52-storey tower would rise directly in front of the beige apartment building, which has no windows on either its east or left walls.


Yonge Street view west down Grenville Street

Yonge Street view down Grenville Street on March 12 2011. From left are an office tower at College Park, a two-storey office building with an RBC bank branch, The Gallery apartment building, the 45-storey Murano South condo tower, the 16- storey Peregrine Co-Op apartments, and the 21-storey George Drew Building (the Ontario Coroner’s headquarters on Grosvenor Street).


Yonge Street view west toward Grenville Street

Another view from Yonge Street toward the proposed development site


Grenville Street looking west from Yonge Street

Looking west from the corner of Yonge and Grenville Streets


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

The 9 Grenville site viewed from the corner of Grenville Street and St Luke Laneway on March 12 2011


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

St Luke Laneway view of the proposed condo tower site, looking northwest


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

St Luke Laneway view of the site, looking to the west


21 Grenville Street heritage building

The three-storey half of the heritage building would be incorporated into the condo development, but the rear half would be demolished.


9 Grenville Street condo tower development site

Northeast view from the back corner of the parking lot at 9 Grenville.


The Peregrine Co-Op apartment building

The Peregrine Co-Op apartment building on the north side of Grenville St.


Will City’s fear of heights trim plans for 39-storey condo tower at King & Spadina?

415 King Street West at Spadina

The LCBO store at the corner of King Street West and Spadina Avenue on Jan. 14 2011. A developer wants to build a 39-storey condo tower here.

Goldilocks planning principles?: The bizarre attitudes that City Hall sometimes displays toward building development proposals in the downtown core can be enough to drive a guy to drink. Thank God the big liquor store at the southeast corner of King & Spadina should be staying put for at least a few more years!

The one-storey LCBO outlet occupies part of a prime piece of property on which a developer has unveiled plans to build a 39-storey condo tower featuring high-tech windows that would harness solar energy. The proposed building would have fewer floors than the Theatre Park tower I wrote about yesterday — the condo building that Lamb Development Corp. got the go-ahead to build just three blocks east, next door to the Royal Alexandra Theatre, after initially getting double thumbs-down from city planners and politicians. (Lamb appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board; ultimately, the parties settled the case and the Theatre Park project is now being marketed to purchasers.)


Councillor advocates block-by-block development

Yesterday I mentioned a November 11, 2010 National Post story that described the Theatre Park planning ruckus. The article quoted Ward 20 City Councillor Adam Vaughan as saying Theatre Park “may be the last tall building on this block.” According to the National Post, Vaughan “wants to move away from site-by-site development, and toward block-by-block development, so that neighbourhoods retain a certain scale, and residents can count on keeping the view they purchased.”

Protecting precious views sounds like a great idea, but it’s totally unrealistic for a city that’s expecting its population to increase by hundreds of thousands of people in the decades ahead. Toronto certainly won’t be able to pack all those people into low-rise accommodations (which wouldn’t have views in any event). And while it seems completely reasonable for the city to oppose highrise construction in certain places, such as established, low-rise residential neighbourhoods, it doesn’t make sense to object when towers are proposed for downtown locations totally suitable for tall structures.


Is developer “aiming too high?”

That’s the case with the LCBO site, over which Vaughan is up in arms because the developer is aiming too high with its condo plans. “We’ve got a building there that’s too short. They’re coming in with a building that’s just a bit too tall,” Vaughan told The Globe and Mail earlier this week. He “would like to see the developers shave at least 50 metres off the proposed height — and throw in some community benefits like supportive housing or family-centred units,” the Globe reported in a story published on Tuesday.

Okay, so a one-storey building is “too short,” 39 storeys is “too tall,” but something 50 metres shorter would be just right? Sounds to me like the city is purporting to apply Goldilocks’ porridge and furniture preferences to city development planning!  Given Vaughan’s strenuous objection, you’d think that the developer, Cabo Three Investments Inc., was proposing to plunk its tower smack in the middle of a historic residential district with streets of distinguished one- and two-storey houses. But that’s not the situation with the liquor store location.


Neighbourhood already has condo towers

Spadina is one of the city’s widest and busiest streets and there’s already several condo towers in the immediate vicinity, with more under construction and even more being marketed for sale. And just two blocks south, the mammoth Concord CityPlace condo development is a dense urban canyon of enormous tall towers, with even more on the way. I have walked around the King & Spadina area three times in the past six weeks, and think Cabo Three’s tower would suit the site perfectly. Heck, an even taller one would, too! To me, Vaughan’s height complaint seems ridiculous. Besides, the tower won’t be going up until the end of this decade at the earliest, because the LCBO’s lease runs until 2019. Moreover, the solar-energy gathering glass windows the developer would like to install in its tower are still in the development stage, but should be a viable technology by the time Cabo Three wants to sink its shovels into the ground.


Residential plus office and retail space

By the end of this decade, tens of thousands more people will be living downtown, and the King & Spadina area will be substantially more busy and dense than it is now.  In those circumstances, building tall makes sense and is realistically the only way to go. So I’m hoping that this project, like Theatre Park, gets the green light and ultimately comes to fruition. By the way, as proposed, the tower would house 443 residential suites atop two floors of commercial office and retail space (the LCBO has said it would be interested in acquiring space in the new building, no doubt because the neighbourhood’s population is forecast to grow by nearly 11 per cent in the next five years). The tower would have five underground parking levels with 311 spaces, and the brick heritage building next to the LCBO on King Street would be incorporated into the complex. Below are photos I’ve taken recently of the project site and immediate vicinity.


LCBO 415 King Street West

Development proposal sign on the LCBO store at King & Spadina

LCBO store 415 King Street West

The LCBO store at King & Spadina seen here on February 3 2011

401 - 409 King Street West heritage building

This 6-storey heritage building at 401 -409 King St. W. would be incorporated into the 39-storey condo complex proposed for this prime corner location

401 - 409 King Street West heritage building

Upper floors of 401 – 409 King St. W. seen February 17 2011

401 409 King St West heritage building

Street level view of 401 – 409 King St. W. on February 17 2011

LCBO store 415 King Street West

Site viewed from the NW corner of King and Spadina on February 17 2011

Spadina Avenue looking south from above King Street

Spadina Avenue view of the LCBO store, left, and some of condo skyscrapers at the massive Concord CityPlace development two blocks south on Spadina

Spadina Avenue view south to King Street West

Site viewed from west side of Spadina Avenue, just north of King Street

Spadina Avenue looking south from Adelaide Street West

Site viewed from the NW corner of Spadina Ave. and Adelaide St. W.

LCBO store 415 King Street West

LCBO store seen from west side of Spadina Avenue on Feb. 17 2011

Spadina Avenue looking northwest to King Street

Intersection of King and Spadina viewed from the west side of Spadina

East side of Spadina Avenue below King Street West

Oh the horror! The proposed condo would completely dwarf the Winners store and the Petro Canada gas station to its south, seen here on February 17 2011

Townhouses on Clarence Square

These townhouses on Clarence Square, one block south, are the nearest low-rise houses. Although  highrises already overlook their back decks, including the M5V condo tower at center, they face charming tree-lined Clarence Square, so residents can’t complain about losing nice views.


Update: Demolition continues at Yonge St. fire site

January 14: There’s very little left of the first floor of 335 Yonge


Remains of the day: Crews have demolished the top two floors of the heritage building at 335 Yonge Street that suffered extensive and irreparable damage in a suspicious fire on January 3, and are working to clear the rest of the site.

The fire marshall’s office has yet to report if it has determined what started the fire; however, a police criminal investigation is underway based on surveillance videos that showed a man entering the building and then leaving only minutes before the blaze broke out.

On January 26, city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam will meet with the building owners, local businesses, and officials from Ryerson University to discuss what will happen with the site.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail reported today that a contracting firm is suing the owners for allegedly not paying a $70,000 bill for work performed after part of the building facade collapsed last April. I’m sure there will be even more legal proceedings in the months ahead to determine what will happen with the property.


Local TV celebrity Marilyn Dennis smiles down on the ruins of 335 Yonge


Covered fence blocks street views of demolition at 335 Yonge


Overnight blaze destroys 123-year-old downtown heritage building … what will take its place?

What caused the fire? That’s the question investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office will try to answer following a massive six-alarm blaze that destroyed a stately heritage building at 335 Yonge Street early this morning.

Built around 1888, and originally home to the Empress Hotel, the three-storey brown brick William Reynolds Block at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets recently housed several retail stores and eateries. Its busiest and best-known tenant was Salad King, a Thai restaurant that was enormously popular with students from the Ryerson University campus right next door.

All of the businesses were forced to close last April after a section of the building’s façade collapsed without warning onto Gould Street (there’s more information about that incident in a Toronto Star article here). Since then, the two eastern lanes of Yonge Street and the stretch of Gould adjacent to the building have been fenced off as a safety precaution while the City and the property’s owners discussed whether the structure could be restored.  That now appears highly unlikely, since fire investigators say they must demolish what remains of the structure so they can safely inspect the rubble to determine the cause of the blaze.

While they’re busy grappling with that mystery, I’ll be keen to hear answers to some “burning” questions that have been on my mind since April: What’s going to happen with this piece of prime downtown real estate? Will the old Empress Hotel building be reconstructed in some shape or form? Will a new retail or office building or a condo tower take its place? Or will Ryerson University acquire the property to expand its downtown campus?

Just before Christmas, I snapped some photos of the cordoned-off building; they appear below, along with pics I took this afternoon. For more news, and to view additional photos of the fire and its aftermath, see this Toronto Star article and this follow-up story in The Globe and Mail.