Posts Tagged ‘development’

two women holding cups of coffee walk across Victoria St. on Queen Street East

Just after I wrote the previous blog post about some of the buildings on Yonge Street that are in the middle of an area being redeveloped, I walked across Queen Street East.  I noticed that there were a lot of similar three storey buildings here to those around the corner on Yonge.  Toronto must have been a booming city in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when these stores and warehouses were built.

below: What I also noticed is how many of the storefronts are empty.   This is the northeast corner of Queen and Mutual.

the northeast corner of Queen street east and Mutual street, with an empty building on the corner.

What I don’t have is a photo of the northwest corner – it is about to be developed, or at least there is a plan to develop it, into a 29 storey glass tower.   Urban Toronto called this location, “a spot that currently feels disconnected from the rest of the City. ”  … maybe because the Moss Park neighbourhood is on the lower part of the socioeconomic spectrum?    Urban Toronto is a website that is, their words, “populated by the tastemakers, condo aficionados, buyers, builders and realtors”.   I try to stay neutral in the pro/con condo development argument but it irks me to read things like, “Redefining the urban experience” and variations thereof over and over and over again to describe mediocrity.

To be fair, this 88 Queen West project is redeveloping a parking lot.  Why is it a parking lot?  Because in the 1950’s a parking lot was more important that the buildings, including Cooke’s Presbyterian Church (1857), that originally stood there.   Perhaps we get what we deserve.

 

below: Richard Bigley (1853-1933) started off as a woodworker but soon switched to selling stoves. He sold the ‘Happy Thought’ line of stoves. He holds two US patents, one for a water heater and one for a sectional water heater. The building was converted into loft apartments, one loft per floor, back in the late 1990’s.

tall brick building, Richard Bigley 1876 written in white at the top (4 storeys), large glass windows in front, once an old store and warehouse, now a 3 loft apartments. 98 Queen Street East

below: Two views at the corner of Queen East and Jarvis.  You can just see the Moss Park Armoury building on the right side of this picture.  This Canadian Forces facility was built in 1960’s and it takes up a large chunk of land.  Development  rising in the north…

Queen and Jarvis intersection looking north to tall towers being built on Dundas
below: … and development rising in the west.

the intersection of Queen and Jarvis, looking northwest, with a foodora cyclist in pink in the intersection, traffic, street car, and in the distance, development on Yonge and westward, cranes, glass towers

large blue public parking sign, also a large box shaped sign on a tall pole. The sign is wearing out

below: At Ontario Street, the street sign says, Old Town Toronto.  In 1797 the city limits were moved north to Queen Street (then called Lot Street).  Ontario Street was one of the most easterly streets at that time.   And, oh yes, the city was still York.  It officially became Toronto in 1834.

toronto street sign for Ontario Street with the top part that says Old Town Toronto

below: Posters on a boarded up window – once it was a barber shop?  Posters on Queen East for events on Queen West.

posters on an empty building, exterior wall, bottom of wall has barber pole stripes painted on it.

below: A blue and white Development Notice. I still haven’t found out how many of these there are hanging around the city.  My best guess is ‘hundreds’.

blue and white city of toronto development notice sign on a chainlink fence in front of a vacant lot wehre cars and trucks are parked. For 245 to 285 Queen Street East, Bridgen Place and Richond.

At the risk of another anti-development rant, I just want to say a couple of things about the above photo.  The development here involves the closure of two public lanes, McFarrens Lane and Brigden Place.  There will be pedestrian access (public access on private land) between Queen and Richmond, between two large buildings with three towers built above them – 39, 39, and 49 storeys high.

From a City of Toronto report written in April 2016…”City Planning staff is not in support of the proposal in its current form, as the proposal not only represent over development, but also fails to recognize the existing built-form character and scale of the King-Parliament Secondary Plan Area by departing from the existing warehouse and main street typology where the site is located.”

I am not sure what the status of the project is at the moment, but the developer has a website for this project, Queen & Sherbourne, that describes it exactly as the original proposal – Three glass towers on two boring bland base buildings. It’s yet another development that looks flashy from above but is blah ick at street level.

below: The northwest corner of Queen and Sherbourne

northwest corner of Queen and Sherbourne, Moss Park variety store on the corner, three storey brick Victorian buildings, cars, people,
below: Bright and cheerful.

three storey victorian buildings includia Acadia Book Store, established 1931 and Seaton Butcher

below: 310 Queen East at the corner of Queen and Berkeley.

below: Moving slightly east to the corner of Queen and Parliament (NE).  That looks like a solid old bank building on the corner.

northeast corner of queen and parliament, old brick buildings,

flat roofed old brick buildings, with oriel windows on third floor, Ray's Discount Convenience and Supermarket on the ground floor. A bus shelter on the sidewalk, people waiting for the bus, building painted rust red colour,

below: 354 and 356 Queen Street East

two narrow three storey buildings squished in between two slightly larger buildings. On the ground floor of the building on the left is Redline Coffee and Espresso while Ryans Restaurant is on the right.

below: 380, 382, and 384 Queen Street West.

two storey store fronts on queen street east, 380 Queen, 382 Queen and 384 queen.

below:  Wherever you walk there is construction.  Some of it good, some of it poor.  That’s Toronto these days.

a man walks through a covered sidewalk, past a construction site and towards a bus shelter

The other day I discovered that there is a small gallery on the 3rd floor of Ryerson’s School of Image Arts.  If you want to find it too, it’s in a building that it’s in is attached at the ground floor level to the Ryerson Image Centre on Gould Street.   At the moment, there is a small exhibit of photos by Avard Woolaver.

the back of a man looking at a wall in a gallery, old photos of Toronto

below:  The photos are ones that Woolaver took in Toronto in the late 70s and early 80s.

old photos of Toronto from the 1980s by Avard Woolaver.

below: This photo is one of Woolaver’s – it is looking towards the northwest corner of Spadina and Queen Street West.  For those of us who lived in Toronto at the time, it’s a bit of nostalgia.  Somethings are very familiar – the older TTC buses, the car styles, and a lot of the architecture, for example.   This photo in particular lends itself nicely to the game of ‘Spot the Differences’….. compare this with

photo by Avard Woolaver of Toronto in the 1980s, this view is the north west corner of Queen and Spadina

below: …..this. Here is the same intersection, at a similar angle, last week.   The large brick building is still there but without a billboard.   The poles are no longer wood but they are covered in posters and remnants of posters – so no change there.    The street signs have been updated and there is now a streetcar lane in the middle.   All in all, I was surprised how little had actually changed in 30ish years.

the northwest corner of Queen and Spadina in 2018, pedestrians, buildings, street scene

below: I found this photo online (originally from the Toronto City Archives, 1950?) but before we can play another round of ‘Spot the Differences’, we have to identify these buildings?  Any ideas?

vintage photo of 357, 359, and 361 Yonge street, black and white, 3 storefronts,

below: Here is the same location in the 1980’s (not a photo from the exhibit).  Not too many changes.   The building that housed George Richards Men’s shop, 361 Yonge Street, was replaced by a dull and boring two storey brick building but the other changes were just to the facades and the owners/tenants.   The tavern is still a tavern and the drug store is still a drug store.  The large brown building on the top right that you can only see part of is Ryerson College.   Unfortunately the Wrigleys ghost sign on the taller building on the left has been covered.

357, 359, and 361 Yonge street in the 1980s including the Zanzibar tavern

photo source BuzzBuzzNews online

below: Fast forward another 30 years.  The Zanzibar is all bright lights and dazzle while the building that housed the drug store is now for sale.  Ryerson is now a University and has expanded out to Yonge Street – that’s the large blue building in case you are not familiar with the area.

Yonge stree, easy side, just north of Dundas, about 357, 359 and 361 Yonge Street including the Zanzibar Tavern. The blue glass wall of Ryerson University behind the Zanzibar,

below: If you pull back a bit, and look just a bit farther north on that stretch of Yonge Street, you’ll see that there are many empty buildings

yonge street, between gerrard and dundas, most storefronts are closed and boarded up waiting for redevelopment of that stretch

below: … including what was until recently the XTC clothing company.  It looks like it has gone through a number of ‘renovations’, not all of which were good.  Some traces of its original brick facade can be seen at the top but at street level it is (was?) a mess.

empty two storey building, once was X T C clothing store

 There is a plan to build a 98 storey mixed-use building on this site including just over 900 residential units ranging in size from 520 to 2000 square feet.    It will be the tallest residential building in Canada.   In the promotional material for YSL Residences, as they will be called, is this: “The epitome of luxury living, designed to elevate the fortunate few who will call it home.”

 

below:  Back to Ryerson, also on the 3rd floor of the School of Image Arts, there was a small series of photographs like this one hanging on the wall in the hallway.  There was no sign as to the name of the artist that I could find either on the wall or online.   I quite like the technique and the resulting image.  Two ideas melded into one.  Two time frames in one frame.  Two artistic styles combined to create another.

a photograph on a gallery wall, a hand holding a photo printed on glass in the middle of another photo, superimposed landscapes

If you are interested in Woolaver’s work, you can find more on his blog.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Standing on the corner of Yonge & Bloor, looking south….  On one corner, a tower almost finished and on the other corner a tower another just started.  1 Bloor East and 1 Bloor West.

below: 1 Bloor East (7 photos)

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction, two men on a balcony, as well as a piece of plastic covering something part way up

below: The beginnings of an overhang at street level, NW corner of the building.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - reflections in the windows, looking up from the ground floor, the supports of an overhang at the first floor can be seen but the overhang itself is not finished

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - parts of two adjacent buildings

below: The podium level as seen from the SW corner of the building.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - the edge of the podium levels as viewed from the street, looking up

below: The full height of the building is more easily seen from farther east on Bloor Street.

looking west along Bloor Street towards Yonge, with highrises on the left, and the overhang from the entranceway to the Marriott hotel on the right. people on the sidewalks as well as bright red umbrellas over seating at a patio.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - curves and diagonal lines as well as the usual rows of windows

below: As seen from across the street, under the protective covering over the sidewalk.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction as seen from under a covered walkway across the street
below: Once upon a time the old Stollerys store stood on the southwest corner.  Today it is a construction site wrapped in hoardings covered by a mural of a forest scene.  I’m not sure what they’re trying to say or who they’re trying to fool.  Oh well, it looks pretty for now.

looking across the Yonge Bloor intersection towards the south west corner where there is a construction site with hoardings covered by a green mural of trees. High rises in the background, a few people on the ocrner waiting to cross the intersection.

below: If you look behind the hoardings, you will see that all the buildings except one have been demolished.   No hole has been dug yet so it’s going to be a while before this tower is completed.  And when it’s completed it will be Toronto’s tallest condo building at 72 storeys.

view of a construction site where one old building remains, a digger is on the site as is a very large orange rubbish bin

Two blocks north, at Yonge & Yorkville, there is another hole in the ground.

below: The doors and windows of the old brick buildings on Yonge Street are boarded up.  These buildings date from the 1860’s.

Looking across the intersection of Yonge and Yorkville streets at a row of old three storey brick stores that now have their doors and windows boarded up.

below: Peek around at the back and you’ll see that the old stores have been demolished but their facades have been saved.  Again, this project is in it’s early stages and again, it’s going to be a tall one.  This time, 58 storeys tall.

construction site, orange fence, the back part of a row of old buildings has been demolished, facades saved, now they are all boarded up.

below: The stores have been stripped of their signs and decorations.  It looks a bit desolate at the moment but it will be interesting to see just what the developers do with the facade.

a woman walks on a sidewalk on Yonge St past old brick buildings with their doors and windows boarded up

below: No one can argue that the old buildings were in good shape.  At least there is an effort being made to preserve the front of the buildings.  Preserving some of our history is important and I think that the old architecture adds visually to the look of the street.

an old wood column decorative piece on the front of an old brick building

As I walk back down Yonge street towards Bloor, a sign catches my eye.  Another development proposal sign – Toronto’s most common sign I think.  This one is for a 64 storey building at Yonge and Cumberland.  Anyone feeling a touch of vertigo at the moment?

development proposal sign on Yonge street

 

 

 

The eastern end of the Kay Gardner Belt Line Park crosses over Yonge St and the subway just south of Davisville station.  It then runs across the north side of Mt. Pleasant cemetery.  It comes to an end at Mt. Pleasant Road where the trail merges into the roads that run through the cemetery.

In 2014 students from Greenwood School painted a mural at this location.  The mural has three main elements.  A train to represent the Belt Line, the name of the community that it is located in (Mt Pleasant Village), and the words ‘use Dominion Coal and Wood’.    The last part is because not long ago, on this site, stood the large concrete silos that the Dominion Coal and Wood company used to store coal and wood.   The shape of the black background is very similar to the shape of the silos if viewed from above.

below: Mural, with Mt. Pleasant Road above it.

blog_domiion_mural_greenwood

mural celebrating mt pleasant village and the old dominion coal and wood silos that used to be at that location. At the end of the belt line trail where it merges into mt pleasant cemetery

below: Plaque located on the site of the old silos (now in the bushes beside a condo)

City of Toronto historical plaque describing the history of the Dominion Coal and Wood silos that used to be on Mt. Pleasant Ave near the old Belt Line Railway tracks.

transcription of the Heritage Toronto plaque:

“Dominion Coal and Wood

Originally located on Danforth Avenue, the Dominion Coal and Wood Company was founded in 1912 by William H. Smith.  In 1929, the company opened a landmark facility on this site.  Its nine adjoining concrete silos were designed by E.P. Muntz Engineering Company.  Coal and wood were transported here by rail car along the former Belt Line Railway and then sold as heating fuel to local businesses and home owners.

Originally just one among many similar suppliers in the city, Dominion Coal and Wood outlasted most of its competitors.  The company expanded into building supplies as coal sales dwindled, but continued to sell coal here until the site was closed in 1999.  Although recognized as an increasingly rare type of industrial architecture, the historic silos were demolished in 2001. “

 

below: The nine silos, about 1972.  The photo is from City of Toronto Archives and was found online at JB’s Warehouse (a good source if you are interested in more information at Dominion Coal and Wood)

picture of the Dominion Coal and Wood silos on Mt. Pleasant, from city of Toronto Archives, taken about 1972. With an old Mt. Pleasant streetcar on the street by the silos.

below: I tried to replicate the above photo, about 42 years later.  The Mt. Pleasant streetcars are long gone as is the gas station on the NW corner of Merton and Mt. Pleasant.  A corner of the tall white apartment building on the right can be seen peaking from behind newer condo buildings.  Of course, the dominant part of the picture is the condo development that was built on the site of the Dominion silos in 2002.

condo building across the street, about 12 storeys high, made of brick and glass, a couple of cars are on the street

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.