Tag Archives: Masonic Hall

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.