Posts Tagged ‘demolition’

Relentless

Ubiquitous

These are two apt words to describe construction in Toronto, or to be more precise, the tearing down of  older houses and building smaller condo units or townhouses in their place.  We are experiencing the downsizing of living space as land values continue climbing upwards.

I drove past this Bayview Avenue house on the weekend and was intrigued by the look of it – a pale yellow,  once grand older house now sitting empty.   Many of the mature trees that were in its front yard have been cut down so the house is now easily visible from the street.  I went back to that section of Bayview Avenue with my camera yesterday morning.

older two storey house, pale yellow, with black and white trim and black front door, mature trees in the front yard.

There wasn’t much of a chain across the front yard so it was easy to walk up to the house.  It looks like the front door hasn’t been used in quite some time.   The window appears to have an old fashioned storm window on the outside although the shutters look more modern.   I’d love to know the history of the house (How old is it?  I suspect that it was built when this section of Bayview was still on the fringes of the city and before Bayview became 5 lanes wide but I don’t know for sure.)

front door of an older house, number 2450, pale yellow walls, white frames around door and window, black door, black shutters,

Right next door is this large bungalow:

large bungalow set back from the street behind a few pine trees, brown roof, stone facing on the exterior, large lawn,

Originally built as a family home, this became the Bayview Hebrew School of the Arts in 2008.  The school is relocating and the building now sits empty.

nonsdescript white double doors as front entranceway of a house, flagstone steps and porch are buckling as is the ashphalt walkway leading to the front door.

looking through the front window into an empty building, looking through the back windows to the yard beyond.

Just up the street was this house.  It looks empty but there was a recycling bin beside the garage and some curtains in the windows so I didn’t wander up to the front door…. even though I really like that red door!  There was no chain across the driveway, nor were there any “keep out” signs.   Neither of those things would stop me, but they are good indicators that no one lives there anymore.   Google street view of this address is from August 2015 and at that time there was a for sale sign on the property.

bungalow set back from the street, large front yard with uncut long grass and a few mature trees, also a low wood fence,

The above are the “going” half of the title of this blog post.  The “coming” are these doors under construction; they too are on this part of Bayview Avenue.   Side by side front doors with a concrete layer between them – two of a row of five townhouses.  One day (soon?) someone will be able to walk in their front door and go up a level or two, to floors that haven’t yet been built.

from the front, street view, two of a row of townhouses under construction, plywood exterior with holes where the doors and windows are going to be.

This is the development that caused an uproar a year ago when they illegally clear cut two lots – cutting down about 30 large trees including a linden tree that was close to 150 years old in the process.  According to the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article III, conviction for cutting down a mature tree  results in a “minimum fine of $500.00 and a maximum fine of $100,000.00 per tree involved in an offense; a special supplementary fine of $100,000.00 is also possible.” (source).

In October 2016, Format Group (the developers involved) paid a fine of $155,064.  This amount includes $657.30 per tree to cover city inspection costs and $116,600 for the planting of 200 new trees — mostly at other sites.

The two lots will be developed into 11 3-storey townhouses and 4 single family houses.  All units have already sold.

a row of townhouses being built, the lower floors are framed with plywood, the upper storey hasn't been started yet.

Before I leave the area, there is something similar going on across the street.

tree with yellow caution tape in front of an empty lawn with empty house in the background

First – there is this empty house sitting on a corner lot at Bayview and Wilket.  This one property is the future home of seven 3-storey townhouses as well as one single detached house.   Does anyone want to do the math on the potential profit – one house for 8 units in a time where even a townhouse sells for more than a million.

driveway and entranceway of a brick house that is now empty

Second – this sign has also appeared nearby. When I checked their website I found this description: “Located in north Toronto, The Bridle Path is synonymous with prestige and exclusive luxury. Known for its spectacular homes and refined neighbourhood character, it’s no wonder that this is the place that Toronto’s discerning elite prefer to call home. Now, on Bayview Ave. in the heart of the Bridle Path neighbourhood, Kingsmen Group is excited to introduce a new luxury townhome community that embodies the very essence of refined prestige living. Register today for more information coming soon.”

There is so much wrong with that paragraph.  I wouldn’t call this part of Bayview a part of the Bridle Path neighbourhood; you might be able to make an argument that it’s on the fringes of said neighbourhood but that would be stretching it.  “Prestige” and “luxury” are words that are so overused that they are almost meaningless with respect to Toronto real estate.   It seems silly to compare a townhouse on Bayview with the homes on the Bridle Path but I guess that’s what sells.  Actually, you could probably sell them without such a comparison!

sign advertising new townhouse devlopment by kingsmen Group inc.

Oh dear, I want to call this a Thursday Doors post so I’d best call it quits here.  I’ve probably already strayed too far off topic!  For more information on the Thursday Doors project see here.

Right now, the section of Sheppard Avenue East between Yonge and Leslie streets is a mix of old, middle aged and new – a hodge podge of sizes, styles and uses.   It’s neither ugly nor pretty.  It’s not sure if it’s city or  suburban.

below: The intersection of Bayview and Sheppard from the southwest.

main road with traffic, coming to an intersection, with a tall building in the background

You’ll probably never hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk along Sheppard”.  So why was I there?   I’ve driven along this stretch many times but I have never walked it.  Have I been missing something?

below: A short distance west of Bayview is the modern brick St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, or ÁrpádHázi Szt. Erzsébet Római Katolikus Templom according to their sign.  Sunday mass is in Hungarian.   If you are driving past on Sheppard Ave, it’s easy to miss the simple steeple and cross that marks this building as a church.

steeple of St. Elizabeth of HUngary RC church, modern brick building with simple cross on the top

below: A large mosaic adorns one of the exterior walls.

mosaic on the exterior brick wall of St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church showing St. Elizabeth and two people kneeling beside her.

below: A small shrine is in front of the church.

small picture of Mary and baby Jesus in bright colours, on a small shrine in front of a church

below: The south entrance to Bayview subway station.  There are no escalators at this entrance  – instead, there is an elevator and a LOT of stairs.

south entrance to Bayview subway station with tall residential buildings behind and a construction site beside

below: The artwork at Bayview station is by Panya Clark Espinal, titled ‘From Here Right Now’.  Half an apple lies on the platform.

art on a subway platform, a line drawing of a very large apple that has been cut in half, on the wall and floor of the station

below: A salt or pepper shaker on the wall.  I’ve only shown two of the images in the series.  There are 24 in total and they are scattered throughout the  station.

art on a subway platform wall, a salt or pepper shaker in black on white tiles

below: There is a small park behind the south entrance to Bayview subway station, Kenaston Garden Parkette where I saw this tree in bud.   The first signs of spring are always wonderful to see.   Today it’s -12C outside so I hope the tree is okay.

pussy willow buds on a tree

below: This little park was designed by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture and it incorporates a large number of rocks including a glacial boulder found on the site.   A bronze sculpture of a tree clinging to a rock  by Reinhard Reitzenstein is one of the features of the park.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock

below: If you stand in the park and look east,  you can’t miss the construction.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock - crane and construction site in the background

a convex mirror beside a black and yellow caution sign, condos are reflected in the mirror

the front and side of a large truck is in the foreground, right side, with a construction site beyond

Construction is everywhere on Sheppard Avenue.

below: All of the houses on Cusack Court are now gone.  Only the ‘No Exit’ sign remains.

a construction site where the houses on a a whole street have been demolished. The no exit sign for the street still remains., the site is behind a chainlink fence

a banner of the Canadian flag has fallen over and is lying on the ground behind a chainlink fence

below: The single family homes on the south side of Sheppard are slowly being demolished to make way for condo developments.  At the corner of Sheppard Ave East and Greenbriar  the proposed development of 184 residential units is the subject of an OMB prehearing on the 8 May 2017  (case number PL161113).

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below: Five houses are empty and waiting to be demolished to make way for two buildings, 11 and 6 storeys, mixed use (i.e. retail at street level) and incorporating a few townhouses.  In other words, the same old same old.

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below:  I said “same old same old” above because these types of buildings are popping up all over  many major roads that are outside the downtown core.  I suspect that Sheppard Avenue will be lined with structures like this one that’s already been built on the north side of Sheppard.

across the street is a 10 storey residential building, cars on the street, small trees in the foreground

Many people make the argument that there isn’t the density to support a subway along Sheppard.  I am of the opinion that if they’re not wrong now, they soon will be.   Development and public transit are dependent on each other, a symbiotic relationship if you will.   If you are affected by the construction along Eglinton for the new Crosstown line, you might agree that waiting for density only increases the problems and inconvenience (and cost?) of building new subway lines.   Also, have you seen photos of what the area around Davisville or Finch (and others) stations looked like when the subway opened there?   What is the required density?  Why do we want to funnel even more people towards the overcrowded Yonge line anyhow?   Is there an end to the questions we can ask?

And that’s another reason for my walk here…. to make note of the construction that is occurring whether we agree with it or not and to document some of  the changes.

below:  Two low rise apartment buildings.

two three storey brick apartment buildings with balconie in the front, taken from across the street

below: Once upon a time there were a lot of these little houses along Sheppard (even more so on the west side of Yonge Street).  At least one of these is still used as a family home but most are now offices or businesses.

a few small brick houses on the south side of Sheppard Ave

below: The north entrance to Bessarion station

looking across the street to the small north entrance to Bessarion subway station, with a small two storey plaza beside it

below: Looking east from Bessarion.  You can see as far as the condos on Don Mills Road.

looking west from Bessarion subway station towards Leslie Street and beyond,

   There is a reason that you haven’t seen many people in these pictures and it’s not because I waited for people to get out of the way.   Sheppard Avenue is a “major arterial road” under Toronto’s road classification system and traffic movement is its major function.  20,000+ cars are expected to use it every day.

I don’t like to say it, but why would you be walking along Sheppard anyhow?

below: Bayview Village parking lot at the NE corner of Bayview and Sheppard.

parking lot of a mall, Bayview village with surrounding buildings in the background.

As you might know, scroll down to the next blog post to see some pictures of Bessarion station!

 

We looked out side and saw that it was a beautiful sunny day!
These gals may be all dressed up with nowhere to go but I decided to hit the streets again.

looking out a store window, 3 headless mannequins are in the window, dresses in women's clothing, one has a red tam on her shoulders, one has a dress with a repeating pattern of typewriters, one has a red skirt with with white hearts all over it.

window mannequins, Doll Factory by Damzels, Queen St East

below: It seems I’m in a neighbourhood that lovebot watches over and protects!

a neighbourhood watch sign posted on a hydro pole, a lovebot sticker is on each of the three houses on the sign

below: A ghost sign that has been revealed by demolition of a building on Queen Street East .
“Relieves fatigue, sold everywhere” is part of an old coca-cola ad. I wonder if 5 cents was a bargain at that time.

an old wall has been exposed after a building has been demolished. The sign is part of an old coca cola advertisement and says relieves fatigue 5 cents.

below: Another ghost sign.  Mr. Frankfurt “Toronto’s hot dog king” opened their restaurant in July of 1984.  It is long gone but the large yellow sign remains.

a large yellow sign for Mr. Frankfurt restaurant showing a red headed girl trying to eat a hot dog that is larger than she is. yellow sign attached to building.

below:  Peace and love encounter number two!

spray paint large red lips, outline drawing, on an old wood garage door in an alley

below: Love and concern of a different kind.   Part of COUNTERfit memorial where people have scratched words and drawings into the metal.   An angel, a heart, a dove, a coffin.  “The war on drugs is a war on us”.   “For every prohibition, you create an underground”.  “Each death is an end of the world Cada muerie es un fin del mundo.”   There is more to this memorial including a list of names as well as flowers and candles that have been left at the base of the metal sculpture.

part of a metal memorial for people who died of drugs and AIDS, Counter fit (a harm reduction organization). people have scratched words and drawings into the metal, a dove, a heart, words like The war on drugs is a war on us

below: Eddie’s Convenience with it’s bit of history.  The mural on the wall is from an old photograph of Queen Street East circa 1926.   The old “drink Canada Dry” sign that hangs over the doorway is a piece of history too.  The faded words on the top of the sign say “Eddie’s Confectionery”.    Does anyone know how old the sign might be?

looking diagonally across the steet to Eddie's convenience store with it's old Canada Dry ad sign hanging over the doorway and the black and white mural taken from a view of Queen St. East long ago.

below: More peace and love!

painting on a garage door, black line drawing of a face on blue with peace written above and love written below the face

 below: It seems like everywhere I go I encounter a building being demolished and today was no exception.  The Church of Our Lady and St. Basil near Queen and Logan is in the process of coming down.  It was not an old building.

vertical windows on a birck church, behind a chain link fence. Two of the windows have panes missing and are covered with orange cloth

below: Alley access is blocked beside the church.
You can see into the church where part of the exterior wall has been broken.

orange cones and a construction fence block entrance to an alley beside a church that is being demolished

below: Dust drifts past the stained glass windows.

dust from demolition drifts up and past church stained glass windows that are now seen more clearly because one of the exterior walls has been partially removed

below: Valentine love (and Christmas bells) for all those who pass through the gate.
How can you resist smiling as you pass by?

a small archway over a gate at the entrance to a front yard, the arch is the shape of a heart and it has been decorated with flowers.

below: A different house, a different arch over a gate – this time little balloon shaped objects made of fabric with tassles at the bottom.  Do they have any significance?

hanging lantern shapes made of fabric, with tassles at the bottoms, hanging over a gate, yellow, green, orange and white

below: A large plant grows inside.

a metal grille that was painted green covers a window with a rusty metal frame and one pane cracked. A plant grows inside the window.

below: A sunny day makes for interesting shadows.

shadows on a sunny day, a metal fire escape is diagonal across the back of a light teal coloured house, it passes the bottom corner of a window

below: A little bit of whimsy.  Someone has hung three little decorative bird houses from the branch of a tree, not in someone’s front yard but by the sidewalk on Queen Street East.

three little decorative bird houses hang from a tree branch by the sidewalk

below: And whimsy is good.   This isn’t exactly cupid but it’s naked and has wings.  Cupid as a grown-up?

a wood cut out in pale pink, mounted high on an exterior green wall, naked person with wings and a funny shaped face

below: Full circle, back to Doll Factory by Damzels – have a happy day!

mannequin head, bright yellow short hair, blue eyes, red lips, pink ears, big smile on her face, wearing a beige tam

The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, commonly just called the Gardiner, has been in the news a lot lately.  This 18 km stretch of road between the city and the lake was completed in 1965 after years of planning and building.  At the time that it was built, Toronto’s waterfront was largely industrial and there wasn’t much objection to having a 4 to 6 lane expressway, with many sections elevated, built there.   The railway had begun the process of dividing the city from its waterfront a hundred years previously.

As the city changes and grows, more and more people live in the downtown core.  Industry has moved out and residents have moved in.  For so long the land south of the Gardiner as well as under the Gardiner was neglected, especially from a city planning point of view.  But now, the city is looking differently at that swath of land.  The far east elevated section between the Don Valley Parkway and Leslie Street was demolished in 2001 and there have been calls for the next section (Jarvis to the DVP) to be demolished as well.   There has been some controversy as to whether to demolish it or move it… and if move it, where to? I am not even sure what the plans are at the moment.   On the other hand, the western section of the elevated expressway (Strachan to Spadina) will remain standing.  Work is underway to refurbish the structure – the city doesn’t want any more stories of pieces of concrete dropping onto cars beneath!  Plans are being implemented to use the land under the Gardiner much more efficiently.  To make it work for the public.

The Bentway is the name that has been given to this new park, or public space, beneath the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan 1.4 kilometres east to Spadina. The first phase is due to open Canada Day 2017 and it involves the stretch between Strachan and Bathurst.  Many of you have probably driven on the Gardiner but do any of you know what is under it now?  Let’s take a look.

below: The Gardiner passes over Strachan Avenue which  in turn passes over the railway tracks.

bridge over a street, many orange and black construction cones down the center of the road, some pedestrians on the sidewalk

below:  On Strachan Ave looking west.   Condo development in this area has extended right to the railway line.  The Exhibition GO train station is in the distance.  You can also see the Gardiner to the left of the tracks.  Here the north side of the under part of the expressway is walled in and the enclosed space is used by Exhibition Place.  At this time there is no plan for the Bentway to extend this far; I have used this photo to provide more context as to the location of the park.

railway tracks in the center of the picture, condos on the right. On the left is the elevated Gardiner expressway, but under it is a concrete wall that makes it look more like a concrete building than a road

below: A closer look at the Gardiner on the west side of Strachan Avenue.  Maybe there is potential to expand the park westward? to Exhibition GO station? And by the way, those concrete structures holding up the expressway – those are called ‘bents’ and that is why the park is called what it is.

a dirt road runs alongside the Gardiner Expressway, some condos in the distance

below: This photo was taken as I stood on Garrison Common and looking towards Strachan Avenue.  This will be the western end of the new park. You can see the underside of the Gardiner as it passes over Strachan Ave which in turn is also a bridge.  This bridge once crossed the Grand Trunk Railway tracks that were built in the 1850s.  New entrances to the park are planned that incorporate the present sloped embankment of the bridge.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway passes over Strachan Ave which in turn has a bridge over what used to be a rail line. The bottom part of the bridge is covered with graffiti. The whole area is a construction site at the moment.

below: A quick aside:  It’s a slightly different angle, but here is a photo of the Strachan Avenue bridge from 1959, before the Gardiner was built.  I suspect that there has been upgrades made to the bridge since then.  Photo credit: R.L. Kennedy, found online (also a good source for the history of the Grand Trunk Railway in Toronto).  Garrison Common is to the right.

vintage photo from 1959, GTR tracks pass besidde Garrison Common park and under the bridge at Strachan Ave

Garrison Common is the green space surrounding Fort York.  It will abut (be continuous with?) the new Bentway.  Fort York is a National Historic Site and on its 43 acre site are original buildings from the War of 1812 as well as an 1813 battle site.  Did you know that the Americans beat us here in 1813 and controlled the city of York (as Toronto was known then) for a few days?

below: The new Fort York Visitors Centre is now open. There is still being work done both inside and outside, but it is open to visitors. For so long the fort was hidden away and difficult to get to; it is nice to see it receiving more attention.

entrance to Fort York, under the Gardiner, still a construction site but nearing completion

below: Jake from Park People, one of the groups helping to design the new park, stands under the Gardiner as he talks to a group of us on a tour.    Here, by Fort York, the Gardiner is the equivalent of 5 storeys from ground level, the highest it reaches as it crosses the city.

a man is standing in front of a group of people on a walking tour, he is standing under the Gardiner Expressway where it is 5 storeys above ground level.

below: Standing on the grounds of Fort York.  The Bentway will be beyond the stone wall.  You can get a good idea of the spacing between the bents.  These spaces are being referred to as ‘rooms’ and there are 55 of them between Strachan and Spadina.

from the grounds of Fort York looking south to the Gardiner and the condos built beyond it. Grass field in the foreground.

below: One obstacle is the fact that Fort York Blvd passes under the Gardiner on a diagonal.  Plans are to build a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the street.  Also in the photo, note the TTC bus – Fort York and vicinity are finally on a bus route.  Route 121 runs between the Portlands and Fort York via Union Station.

fort york blvd is in the foreground, a TTC bus and a car are on it, the Gardiner is to the right and a short condo building is in the background along with the CN tower

below: The section under the Gardiner Expressway between Bathurst Street and Fort York Blvd is not city owned. It is owned, and has already been developed, by the Onni Group who built the Garrison at Fort York condominiums on either side of it.  This is the eastern end of phase 1.

evening, low angle sunlight shines under the Gardiner Expressway where it has been developed with paving stones and some large rocks.

below: Northbound traffic on Bathurst passes under the Gardiner.

some traffic on Bathurst street on a rainy day, as the street passes under the Gardiner Expressway, condos on the right, construction hoardings on the left.

Phase 2 of the park’s development involves land between Bathurst and Spadina. This is an area that is undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, i.e. a lot of construction.

below: Immediately south of the Gardiner on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore is a construction site.  Demolition of the old 1928 Loblaws warehouse building is now complete.  The facade of the old building was disassembled rather than demolished; after cleaning and refurbishing of the bricks, it will be rebuilt in its original location.  Two condo towers are planned for the space between Loblaws and the Gardiner.  Yes, more condo towers to face the Gardiner and add to the tunnel effect that you get when you drive on the expressway.

construction site in downtown Toronto, Gardiner Expressway runs behind the site, rubble in the foreground, a few remaining remnants of the old Loblaws building that was there, high rises in the background.

below: The development of this site is a collaboration between a number of developers.  I found a photo of one rendition (source) of what the space under the Gardiner will look like here in the future.  Public space including a cafe are part of the plans.  Check back in a couple of years to see what really happens here!

artist's rendering of what a planned development for under the Gardiner would look like, part of a larger condo and retail development.

below:  Standing on Bathurst Street, looking east along what will be Housey Street.  This is just north of where the Loblaws development (above) will be.  As you can see, you can’t walk there yet.

the elevated road, the Gardiner Expressway passes over a construction site on the right, a new street being built on the left.

below: Southeast corner of Bathurst and Fort York Blvd.  This is the section of land just north of Housey Street.  Construction hoardings and cranes – familiar sights in this area.  It also means that taking photos of under the Gardiner here are difficult!

late afternoon, long shadows, yellowish tint to the photo, looking east from Bathurst, south of Front, north of the Gardiner, wood construction hoardings with posters on it, many orange cranes, some condos already built, a woman jogging past, cars on the street.

below: Development north of the Gardiner between Bathurst and Dan Leckie Way.

construction site under the Gardiner, cranes and condos being developed on the left, CN tower in the fog in the distance.

Dan Leckie Way is a north-south road that runs under the Gardiner just east of Bathurst.  It is the western boundary of Canoe Landing Park.  This park is north of the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

below: ‘Tom Thomson’s Canoe’, by Douglas Coupland sits at the highest point of land in the area; it’s almost at the same level as the Gardiner and is very visible as you drive by.   This park extends down the hill.

The end of a large red canoe, an artwork by Douglas Coupland called 'Tom Thomson's Canoe' sits in a park, high above the surrounding scenery. Looking southwest towards the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the condo developments south of it.

below: Looking the other way from the same vantage point. The street running under the Gardiner here is Dan Leckie Way . Up until this point the Lakeshore is south of the Gardiner.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway with traffic is in the middleground, some trees and parkland in the foreground, and condo developments in the background.

At Dan Leckie Way, the Lakeshore is still south of the Gardiner and the space under the expressway is wide open.   By Spadina, one major block east, the situation changes.   The Lakeshore splits and westbound traffic lanes go north of the Gardiner and eastbound lanes stay south.  Shortly after Spadina, the Lakeshore runs under the Gardiner and there is no room for any further development under the road.

below: Standing on Spadina, just south of the Gardiner and looking west.  Here there is a lot of road to cross for pedestrians on Spadina.  Not only has the Lakeshore split to run on either side of the Gardiner, but there are also ramps between the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

major road with traffic under an elevated expressway in a city, long ramp from the upper level to the lower. Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd in Toronto, at Spadina looking west

below:   Still on Spadina, and still looking west, but now under the Gardiner.  The space under the road is not as high as it was previously.  Its lower and darker and not as inviting.   It will be interesting to see what phase 2 of the Bentway development will look like in this space.  I am not sure when it will to be finished but I will keep an eye on it!

under an elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway, at Spadina.

As for the eastern Gardiner, what does that look like?  Well, that’s a whole other blog post!

 Project: Under Gardiner  On this site you’ll find detailed maps and diagrams of this area as well as information about the plans for the various sections of the space.

 

 

 

Sometimes when I walk I find a view or a photo that suggests a theme for the day; something that summarizes the area that I’ve been walking through.  On Saturday, this was the photo, a construction site on Wellesley Street -a massive hole in the ground amongst a growing number of high rise buildings.

red and white danger sign on a makeshift wooden fence that says danger due to open edge. Beyond it is a very large hole for a construction site. A bulldozer is in the hole, downtown Toronto is in the background.

a large number of new high rise buildings just beyond a large hole in the ground where another condo is being built

This piece of property, between Wellesley and Breadalbane streets, had been vacant for a number of years.  It was once owned by the province; back in the 1980s there were plans to build a ballet and opera house there.  Those plans fell through and the land remained vacant while community groups lobbied for a park to be developed there.

When I first walked the area in April 2013, there was a blue fence around the site.

A wood plywood fence painted blue. Someone has painted three large white dollar signs on as well as the word ka-ching.

The blue fence is gone. According to the development proposal sign, two towers are being built here with a combined height of 99 floors.  A nine or ten storey L-shaped podium will run along St. Luke Lane and Wellesley Street to join the towers.    The plan also allows for park land on Breadalbane.  When I checked the website for the development, 11 Wellesley aka Wellesley on the Park, there is only one tower pictured and it doesn’t look like the description on the sign.

Ah, a little light bulb goes on.  The sign describes the developers’ original plan.  A change in the plan doesn’t mean a change in the sign.   So…  this seems to be the future home of one 60 storey condo tower on one third of the land and a 1.6 acre park on the remainder.

two bicycles parked on a sidealk in front of a fence that has a development proposal sign on it. Building site behind that, thena wall of skyscrapers in the background.

My Saturday walk had actually started close to Yonge and College.   I was drawn to the nondescript block of stores that are now boarded up in preparation to be demolished.

A block of two storey stores on Yonge street has been boarded up in preparation for demolition.

I’m wishing that I had taken pictures previously of these stores just to document the history of that part of Yonge Street.  I had many chances to do so, but the building never seemed interesting enough.

a man is walking past a row of boarded up stores that are about to be demolished.

development proposal sign above a large number 501, with an office/retail for lease sign above it.

Whether or not you think that two 58 storey towers with a shared 7 storey podium is an improvement is an entirely different question. It will contain 960 condo units and 5 storeys of above grade parking (because the subway runs underneath) with 320 parking spots.  Lobby access for the buildings will be from Maitland and Alexander Streets on the north and south sides of the property.  Or at least that’s what’s on the sign.   But fool me once, so I checked the  website for the condo (TeaHouse Condos in this case) and once again the information doesn’t match.  According to the website there will be two towers but the north one will be 25 storeys and the south one will be 53 storeys.  Whatever the end result, it will be different from what’s there now!

 

At least one person had an objection.

development proposal sign on a yellow wall that someone has written enuf on in big pink letters

A walk around the back of the building shows that we aren’t losing much there either.

two stroey building boarded up and ready for demolition, with a parking lot, behind a chain link fence.

 

The next site that I explored is just to the south where a hole is already in progress on the SW corner of Yonge and Grenville.

A hole in the ground on Yonge Street for construction of a building.

Photo taken from St. Lukes Lane

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below: This hole has exposed the north wall of the brown brick Oddfellows’ Hall as this view shows.  This is looking south, with College Park in the background (built by the T. Eaton Co. and opened as a 6 storey Eatons store on 30 October 1930).  Behind the chain link fence is St. Luke Lane.

back of a large four storey brick building behind an open hole construction site, taller buildings in the background (College Park)

Now you see it… soon you won’t.  The condo tower here will be 66 storeys high.

open hole at construction site surround by fence, brick building in the background.

Oddfellow’s Hall was built in 1891 and 1892 by architects Norman B. Dick and Frank W. Wickson for the Independent Order of Oddfellows.  It has two octagonal turrets and is a playful mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles.   The building had a 20’ x 46’ long grand hall for IOOF private meetings as well as offices and storefronts.

below: Looking north up Yonge Street at College Street, about 1970.  The Bank of Commerce (later Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and now CIBC) was an early tenant of the building.  Also in the picture is the old fire hall tower but more about that later.

old photo from about 1970 looking north up Yonge Street from College Street. Oddfellows Hall is on one corner with main tenant as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Old fire hall tower is in the distance.

Photo found online, original source was City of Toronto Archives

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below: Most people will recognize the building as Starbucks.

Oddfellows Hall, a large brick building with two hexagonal turrets, brick, now a Starbucks on the ground floor.

starbucks at the corner of Yonge and College

Back to Grenville Street where there is yet another development.  On the west side of St. Luke Lane is a partially completed condo that has incorporated the facade of what is known as the John Irwin house.  It is one of the oldest surviving residential buildings in the area;  in 1873 it was recorded as being owned by a John Irwin.

An old three storey brick house, the John Irwin house has been restored and incorporated into a new condo development that is in the process of being built, cement mixer in front, men working.

This house wasn’t always in this location though.  It was moved a few metres east along Grenville, from one side of the condo development to the other.  I found a photo that I took in April 2013, just after the house had been moved.  Here you can see the back of the house as well as St. Luke Lane to the right.

back of an old house from the 1870s, the John Irwin House, a three storey brick building, that was moved from one site to another. It is sitting on supports at the edge of a construction site.

Does your head hurt yet?  Because there is more…..
But first, a break.  A few other pictures from the area.

below:  No Parking in St. Luke Lane, twice.

A red sign on a red wall. In yellow letter that are peeling off, the sign says Private Parking Only, mcdonalds.

A light yellowish grey wall with a yellow sign that says no parking. Old sign, looking worse for wear. A piece of flat scrap metal is leaning against the wall
  below:  And a man (Van Gogh? someone else?) with a red umbrella but more remarkably, a white picket fence almost hidden under vines by Wellesley Street.

A drawing of a man on white paper pasted to a concrete wall. A red stenciled umbrella is on top of his face. A white picket fence is beside the wall.

below: Also in St. Luke Lane, a mural commemorating the Highway of Heroes.

A mural commemorating the Highway of Heroes

And back to the program….

So far we have two holes in the ground, a partially finished condo, and a block that has just begun to be demolished.  The last development that I saw in the area was one that is still in the planning stages.  The development proposal sign posted beside Currys Art Supplies (the blue awning) is a clue that changes are imminent at 480-494 Yonge Street.  This building is on the SW corner of Yonge and Grosvenor.   The sign says one 45 storey tower but by now I don’t believe the signs!

development proposal sign at 490 Yonge street

480 Yonge Street is a heritage building as is the old fire hall (1872).   The top corner of 480 Yonge is just visible in the bottom left of this picture.  It is to be incorporated into the new development if it goes ahead.  The fire hall tower is going to be preserved but the building in front of it will be removed.  The sidewalk will also be widened as a result.  That’s the opening act of this story; there may be changes before the final curtain.  The developers applied for a zoning amendment (increased height and density) earlier this year but I do not know the results of that.

old fire hall tower above a newer building, or a newwer facade on an older building, red dump trunk on the street, large new condo being built in the background, Yonge St.

below:  On the NW corner of Yonge and Grosvenor is this building.   I don’t know if there are any plans in the works to redo this stretch of Yonge Street but after seeing all the new developments, I’m starting to get a bit sentimental about the old buildings.  So here is documentation of what remains, starting with  A & W Home of the Burger Family at 496 Yonge.

Three storey older grey building on a downtown corner.

below: between Grosvenor and Breadalbane – Cuban cigars and Persian food

Three three storey buildings in a row, old brick buildings, on Yonge St in downtown toronto, 502, 504 and 506. Yonge Market, Persian restaurant, a Cuban cigar store.

below: SW corner of Yonge & Breadalbane – old and new, short and tall

sw corner of yonge and breadalbane streets showing older stores in the foreground and taller condos in the background.

below: SW corner of Yonge & Wellesley – tattoos, massages, and payday loans.

southwest corner of Yonge and Wellesley, a row of old buildings, now storefronts. A Massage parlor and a tattoo place, a convenience store and a Money Mart. Gass condos in the background.

below: NW corner of Yonge & Wellesley – Not just noodles

not just noodles restaurant on the corner of Yonge and Wellesley as well as more stores going north up Yonge Street.

‘Demolition Site’ by Jihyun Jung,
at MOCCA as part of the CONTACT photography festival

This Korean artist visits demolition sites where he paints one of the rooms red.
Over time, he documents the changes to this room as demolition proceeds.

below:  One of his photographs of a red room covers the entire wall at MOCCA.

 A large photograph of the inside of an abandoned building.  The interior walls have been painted red.  Rubble has started spilling into the hall from the demolition of the rest of the building.

One of the walls of the courtyard in front of MOCCA is covered with one of his photographs.   It is 30 feet long.  Very annoyingly, a car was parked in front of it the day I was there.  It was promoting a car dealership in return for their support of an exhibit at the gallery that shares courtyard space with MOCCA.   The two planters with the tall evergreens are very tacky too.

A large photograph (30 feet long) that covers the side of a building.  The photo is of a building being demolished.  It is to scale with the real building.

A close up of A large photograph (30 feet long) that covers the side of a building.  The photo is of a building being demolished.  It is to scale with the real building.

Along with many other people, I have been watching the demolition on the southeast corner of Dundas & Sumach streets, part of the Regent Park redevelopment.  This 14 storey apartment building was designed by Peter Dickinson; it was built in the late 1950s.

 

January 31st, 2015

I first saw this building being demolished on a grey day at the end of January.
I’m not sure when the demolition actually started.

A large 14 storey brick clad apartment building in the initial stages of being demolished.

Looking north up Sumach Street.

 

View of the interior of some of the apartments that were exposed when the exterior brick was removed.  Some of the rooms are painted in bright colours, purples, pinks and greens.

The colours of past lives.

 

 3 February

A workman dressed in orange coveralls works on the street in front of a building being demolished

It would have been a cold job, working outside during the coldest February on record.

 

Part of a 14 stprey apartment building that is being demolished.  The exterior walls have been removed and some of the interior walls are buckling.

In the midst of demolition.

 

blog_demolition

 

10 February

Two very large cranes are being used to demolish a large apartment building on the corner of Dundas and Sumach streets.  Some men in bright yellow vests are directing traffic as some of the debris is falling towards Sumach street.

Looking across the intersection of Dundas and Sumach.

 

A purple and yellow sign against a metal fence that says Regent Park Revitalization Phase 3 has started.  Demolition of an apartment in the background.

A view from the south.

 

Hydraulic crane and truck and other machinery used in the demolition of the building.

Looking west from River Street.

 

Vacant lot in the forground with demolition of a building in the middle.  In the background are the new buildings that have been built in that area

Another view from River Street.

 

12 February

Two large cranes are demolishing an apartment building.

 

17 February

A lot of rubble, concrete, metal and brick, from the demolition of a building lies in front of the partially demolished building.

Looking into the remains of a partially demolished building.  The pipes that used to run between the walls vertically are now exposed.

 

23 February

Machinery is being used to sift through the debris and rubble from a building demolition

27 February

A man is taking a picture of a demolition in progress of an apartment building.

There were always a number of people taking pictures whenever I was there.

 

As part of the upper stories of an apartment are brought down, a cloud of dust forms as the debris hits the ground.

dust storm in the sunlight

 

28 February

vacant lot, truck, and remains of a building being demolished

… after 5 weeks, 6 March

A large hole in the ground where a building once stood, vacant land is around it.  A street of houses in the distance, machinery to one side.

Just another hole in the ground.