Tag Archives: Maitland Street

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 Webshots.com; however, on December 1 2012 the Webshots site was shut down by the company that owns it.