Tag Archives: Toronto and East York Community Council

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




Proposal to add 43-floor apt tower + townhouses to Sherbourne Str. complex goes to TEYCC Tuesday

565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Rental apartment buildings at 565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne St. A fourth tower and townhouses would be added to the complex under a proposal being reviewed tomorrow (October 4) by Toronto and East York Community Council.


555 Sherbourne Street and 565 Sherbourne Street

A northeasterly view from Earl Street of the 28-storey rental apartment tower at 565 Sherbourne Street, left, and the 31-storey tower at 555 Sherbourne, right. A development plan calls for construction of a 43-storey rental tower between the two buildings, behind what is presently a No Frills grocery store.


Earl Street between 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

 This podium segment that crosses over Earl Street to link 555 Sherbourne, left, with 545 Sherbourne, right, would be demolished, creating an open “gateway” to the St James Town highrise neighbourhood to the east.


Rear of 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses would be constructed along the east (Bleecker Street) side of 545 Sherbourne Street, which currently features a deteriorating elevated podium above this unsightly loading zone and garbage storage area.


Rear of 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses also would be built along this stretch of Bleecker Street behind 555 Sherbourne and the site where the new apartment tower would rise


565 and 555 Sherbourne Street retail stores

Street-level retail shop frontage along Sherbourne Street would be expanded and improved under a plan to redevelop the podium for the apartment towers.


Spruce-up for Sherbourne?: At its public meeting tomorrow morning, Toronto and East York Community Council will consider an intriguing development proposal that would see a 43-storey rental building and rows of 2- and 3-storey townhouses added to a complex of three apartment towers constructed on Sherbourne Street in the late 1970s. The plan also would see the redevelopment and improvement of the retail space occupying the street level of the apartment complex podium along Sherbourne Street.

The development application, filed by community planning and urban design firm Bousfields Inc. on behalf of Medallion Properties Inc., would add 409 rental units to the Medallion-operated complex, which currently has 1,117 apartments on the northwest edge of downtown’s densely-populated St James Town neighbourhood. Although the proposed development would increase density in an already-crowded residential area likely to experience significant condo tower development in the next several years, it also would substantially improve the appearance of the tired and worn-looking complex as well as three adjacent streets — Sherbourne, Earl and Bleecker.

A background report prepared by the city planning department for Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) has recommended that the redevelopment application be approved on certain conditions, including payment of $1 million — in what’s known as Section 37 benefits under the Ontario Planning Act — in exchange for the increased project height and density. Of that sum, $900,000 would be put towards the future construction of a swimming pool at the Wellesley Community Centre next door, while $100,000 would be earmarked for streetscape improvements on Bleecker Street.

The TEYCC will consider the report and recommendations as part of the agenda for its regular monthly meeting tomorrow. Subject to any decisions the TEYCC makes at that time, the proposal could wind up being considered for approval by Toronto City Council at its meeting on October 24 2011.

Although many nearby residents dread the thought of hundreds more people moving into yet another highrise building in an already crowded area  (ethnically diverse St James Town is one of the most densely populated districts in Canada), I welcome Medallion’s redevelopment plan and hope it gets the green light from City Council.

I have lived a short walk from the 545-565 Sherbourne complex for more than 20 years, and have always considered its badly-designed dark and dingy east side, along Bleecker Street, to be an egregious affront to the streetscape. The west side of the complex, which stretches for roughly a full city block along Sherbourne Street, isn’t much better. The buildings’ podium, which houses an extremely busy grocery store and other street-level retail shops and services, is an eyesore that has been long overdue for a major makeover. Medallion’s redevelopment plans would spruce up the buildings and greatly enhance the appearance of Sherbourne Street at the same time. The proposal to remove an elevated podium segment between 545 and 555 Sherbourne Street would vastly improve Earl Street by eliminating a dark and dreary passageway that looks more like a barrier than a gateway to the St James Town neighbourhood next door. Meanwhile, new townhouses along the building’s ugly east side would drastically improve what is possibly the bleakest stretch of Bleecker Street.

Below are photos I’ve taken of 545-565 Sherbourne at various times during the past year, along with some architectural illustrations submitted to the City’s planning department that depict how the apartment complex would appear with a taller fourth tower.

Full details of the proposed townhouses, apartment tower and podium redevelopment are provided in the city planning department’s September 13 2011 background report to the TEYCC.



545-565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The 545-565 Sherbourne Street towers, viewed from the northwest at the corner of Sherbourne and Linden Streets. The towers were built in the late 1970s, but the 1-storey Shopper Drug Mart addition wasn’t constructed until 2007.


545-565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The concrete and brown brick apartment towers at 545-565 Sherbourne, viewed from the west at the intersection of Jarvis and Isabella Streets. The new tower would rise in front of the white St James Town apartment building visible in the middle rear of the photo.


555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The new tower would soar 120 meters — and stand more than 12 storeys taller than 565 Sherbourne Street, left, and 555 Sherbourne Street, right, seen here from the west along Isabella Street.


555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Northeast view from Sherbourne Street of the podium for the apartment complex, including the elevated segment above Earl Street (right).  The podium would be completely redeveloped and improved.


545-565 Sherbourne zoning amendment proposal sign

One of the zoning amendment proposal signs that had been posted outside the 545-565 Sherbourne complex for the past two years. The original plan called for a 38-storey apartment tower that would be connected to 565 Sherbourne by landscaped “sky garden” bridges at five-floor intervals …


public meeting sign at 545 Sherbourne Street

… but a standalone 43-storey tower ultimately wound up being proposed, and will be considered tomorrow by Toronto and East York Community Council. These signs appeared outside the complex on Sherbourne Street last month.


development proposal illustration for 545-565 Sherbourne Street

This illustration from a city planning report depicts how the 43-storey tower would appear viewed from the west …


illustration of east elevation for 545-565 Sherbourne Street

… while this illustration depicts the east elevation and indicates where 2- and 3-storey townhouses would be built along Bleecker Street.


No Frills grocery store at 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Area residents aren’t happy that this No Frills store, situated at street level in the podium between 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street, would be closed for several years during redevelopment construction. It is one of only two grocery stores serving more than three dozen nearby highrise and lowrise buildings.


No Frills grocery store at 555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A fitness centre — the Bloor Valley Club — once operated above the grocery store. The gym boasted a full-size swimming pool in the space with the large west-facing windows, as well as squash courts and rooms for aerobics, cardio and weights. The space has been vacant since Bloor Valley closed around 2001. 


555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Stairs leading to the second-floor entrance to the former Bloor Valley Club space were removed from this corner of the podium several years ago. A Loblaws store occupied the street-level retail space beneath the gym from the 1980s until the late 1990s, when it was replaced with the No Frills.


545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The street-level entrance to the 31-storey 545 Sherbourne apartment tower will be improved when the elevated podium (left) is demolished.


555 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The entrance to 555 Sherbourne Street is off Earl Street in the dark space under the elevated podium which will be demolished


545 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

545, 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street viewed from the southeast


Rear podium of 545 Sherbourne Street

Bleecker Street view of the elevated podium behind 545 Sherbourne Street. Under the redevelopment plan, the podium will be replaced with townhouses.


The podium behind 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The podium behind 555 Sherbourne, viewed from Bleecker Street


rear of podium between 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Bleecker Street view of the dark and dreary loading zone under the elevated podium behind 555 and 565 Sherbourne. Under the redevelopment plan, a row of 3-storey townhouses will enhance this streetscape.


Rear of 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street

The loading zone under the podium is a cold, dark void that creates a hostile streetscape along the west side of Bleecker Street. The new service area will be enclosed, situated behind townhouses, and accessed by large garage doors.


The rear of the podium for 555 and 565 Sherbourne Street

Concrete steps lead from Bleecker Street to the elevated podium.


Bleecker Street view of rear of podium for 555- 565 Sherbourne

Originally known as The Sherbourne Club, the Bloor Valley Club once occupied most of the podium building between 555 and 565 Sherbourne. The gym closed in 2001 after its owners extensively renovated the Bloor Park Club on Park Road and decided to discontinue operations on Sherbourne Street.


Bleecker Street view of rear of 565 Sherbourne Street

A redevelopment proposal sign on Bleecker Street near the stairs to the podium.


rear of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

A row of townhouses will revitalize this moribund stretch of Bleecker Street


rear of 555 Sherbourne Street

The Bleecker Street side of the podium looks dreadful year-round. The podium, which has long suffered from disrepair and neglect, will be revitalized.


Bleecker Street behind 565 Sherbourne Street

The tall trees are the only attractive elements on the entire Bleecker Street side of the complex. Unfortunately, aabout 10 trees will have to be destroyed to allow for construction of townhouses and revitalization of the podium.


555-565 Sherbourne Street  Toronto

Podium view looking south along Bleecker Street toward 555 Sherbourne


rear of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

The east side of the 565 Sherbourne tower, seen here looking north along Bleecker Street, will be drastically enhanced by a row of rental townhouses


East side of 565 Sherbourne Street Toronto

Townhouses will enliven this dreadful strip on the east side of 565 Sherbourne


east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

In total, 40 townhouses will be built along Bleecker and Earl Streets.


the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

South view of the east side of 565 Sherbourne along Bleecker Street


a street level unit on the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street

 The entrance to a street-level unit on the east side of 565 Sherbourne Street


parkette on Bleecker Street Toronto

This St James Town parkette is situated on the east side of Bleecker Street, directly opposite the 565 Sherbourne tower


Bleecker Street parkette

The parkette and one of four St James Town apartment highrises on the east side of Bleecker Street opposite the 545-565 Sherbourne complex


St James Town community centre and library

The Wellesley Community Centre and St James Town public library branch are situated immediately south of 545 Sherbourne. They opened in 2004.


Future swimming pool site on Bleecker Street

This grassed area off Bleecker Street, behind the Wellesley Community Centre, is where a public swimming pool will be constructed once sufficient funds become available. The pool will cost at least $10 million, but the City has collected only one third of that amount so far in fees from developers. Medallion Properties will have to pay $900,000 into the pool fund if it receives approval to redevelop the 545-565 Sherbourne apartment complex next door.


Future swimming pool site on Bleecker Street

The future swimming pool location viewed from the Bleecker Street sidewalk behind 545 Sherbourne