Posts Tagged ‘development’

There is no theme to this blog post.  It’s just a description of some of the things that I saw as I walked down Bathurst Street the other day after taking the 512 streetcar to St. Clair West station.   In a lot of ways its like other busy Toronto streets, some houses, a few corner stores, and an alley or two along the way.   A little bit of architecture and a little bit of history round out the story.

At St. Clair West and Bathurst, the northeast corner remains vacant. About four or five years ago there was a gas station and car wash on this corner.  St. Clair West subway station is just to the east, just beyond the trees on the right hand side.

northeast corner of Bathurst and St. Clair West, vacant lot, St. Michaels College in the background as well as a couple of highrise condos.

below: I went looking for an old photo of this corner and this is what I found.  It’s from 1924.  If the streetcar’s destination is Caledonia, then it is going westward.  In 1924, St. Clair was the northern edge of the city and very little development had occurred here.  It is interesting to note that the streetcar tracks came first, then the development.   In addition, I’d love to be able to read the sign about dogs but the resolution of the photo is not good enough.  An ad?  A sign saying no dogs allowed?  Or something else?

vintage black and white photo from 1924 of a streetcar on the St. Clair line stopped at Bathurst to pick up passengers.

below: Of course, no vacant lot remains that way for long.   At the moment, three 30 storey towers joined with a 6 or 7 storey podium has been proposed for the site but it is still in the re-zoning and planning stages.  The light brown building to the left is St. Michael’s College School (boys school).

blue and white city of Toronto development notice sign on a small hill, by some trees, in front of a vacant lot. Highrises in the background

below: New development on the southeast corner of this intersection is almost complete. People have moved into the units above while the finishing touches are put on the lower retail floors. Developments like this are all over the city. Developments that look great (maybe?) on paper but are lackluster and banal at street level.

street level of a new glass and steel building, empty retail space available for lease, just finishing being built

below: As I walked south on Bathurst, this mural caught my eye.

mural in a laneway, painting of many trees with red and yellow sky, dark brown earth, and a few small black figures, some words beside it

Words written beside the mural:
“Long before concrete and steel
Punctuated the landscape
The land was pure and natural
This mural acknowledges and honors 13 trees and 21 medicinal plants that have thrived here since time immemorial.”

The mural was funded by Toronto’s Start program (street art) and Na’Ma’Res Sagatay, a residence for indigenous men that is nearby.

close up of mural, large trees with wavy red and yellow sky, small black figures standing under the trees

I will admit that the main reason that I was walking in this area is because I wanted to check out the new public artwork that I’ve read about at Bathurst and Vaughan.  It is “Three Points Where Two Lines Meet” by Christian Giroux and Daniel Young and apparently there is some controversy about it.

below: For those who don’t know that intersection, it is V-shaped.  This photo shows the approach to  the intersection from the north, on Vaughan.  I took this photo because my first reaction to the scene was “Ugly.  Ugly is what Toronto does”.  From this angle the sculpture gets lost in the visual noise.

sidewalk, lined by tall hydro utility poles, wood, road, some buildings, approaching the intersection of Bathurst and Vaughan

Cities have rules and regulations for public art. It needs to be weatherproof and graffiti-proof.  It can’t block the view of drivers and pedestrians.  No sharp edges or structures that people might hurt themselves on – note the two black poles are to prevent people from hitting their heads.

A woman walks past Three Points Where Two Lines meet

From Giroux & Young’s website:  “Taking its form from the orphaned triangular site on which it sits, this artwork produces a new urban room by combining a multicoloured truss structure, the triangular plot of wild grasses it encloses, and an encircling sidewalk thats acts as a podium and plinth. Located between the converging energies of uptown and downtown, the structure densifies an intersection already clotted with utilities and challenges established forms of urbanism and spatial representation in Toronto.”  Think of that what you will.  While you’re thinking, you can check the website for more photos and information.

Three Points Where Tao Lines meet, a public art sculpture in bright colours, metal grid like construction cranes, by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux at the intersection of Bathurst and Vaughan.

below: An interesting (unique?) roofline on what turns out to be The Occult Shop.  I made one mistake – I neglected to cross the street to go inside and find out just what one can buy here.

brick building with a large rounded roofline, the bulding is a semi, one half has doors and windows covered with white from the inside, the other is the occult shop

below: These people can still be seen in the space above the doorway at 1358 Bathurst.

the space above a doorway at number 1358 Bathurst is painted with pictures of people (head and shoulders) in shades of brown

Continuing south on Bathurst, as you go downhill towards Davenport Road, there is a retaining wall beside the sidewalk on the west side.  This wall was painted back in October 2013.  The city paid $23,000 to two Brooklyn NY street artists (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, together known as Faile) who designed the mural and in turn paid other artists to paint it.

The mural is quite long and I only have a few pictures of bits and pieces of it.

mural, large blue and white owl, with words in large letters that say no change my heart

mural, large painting of a blond boy sleeping, head on pillow, head and shoulders only

mural, by faile, orange car, woman driver, the word vanity written on the side of the car

below: Apparently Davenport Road is considered to be one of Toronto’s oldest roads.  It follows the base of a ridge and provided a route between the Humber River in the west and the Don River in the east.

toronto historical society plaque for Davenport Road, 1995, description of the history of Davenport Road

below: There is a park on the northwest corner of Bathurst and Davenport, The Tollkeeper’s Park.  The old house, the Tollkeeper’s Cottage, is now a museum run by The Community History Project.  It is open on Saturday afternoons (and some Sundays during the summer)

The Tollkeeper's Park, sign, green space, trees, and an old small wood frame house, now a museum,

below: And across the road is Tollkeeper’s Lane.  There are chairs everywhere in this city not usually as comfy looking as these.

two comfy chairs in an alley withtheir backs agains a grey garage door

below: An old Comet parked in the alley

a yellowish beige Comet car, old, parked behind a house in a lane

below: Tomatoes and other vegetables growing in a front yard.

small front yard packed full of vegetable plants looking very green and healthy

below: A hand, part of an Elicser mural.  This mural, which is on both sides of the railway underpass just north of Dupont, is still there.  Photos can be seen in a blog post from Nov 2014 (Yikes!  Have I been blogging that long?!).

part of a mural, a blue hand horizontal on a wall with some weeds growing in front of it

There are a few remnants of a more industrial past in the area near the railway tracks.

a window consisting of 18 panes of glass, 6 across and 3 down, some have texture and some are clear. the clear ones are reflecting the blue sky and clouds.

old wood door, once painted green but the paint is peeling

below: Another door –  I doubt that it’s open now, or that it ever will be again.

back door of an empty house, window boarded over, door with board nailed across it, open sign in the window, also a sign that says beware of dog

below: These windows, and the house too, probably won’t be here much longer either.

green trim around roof and windows of an old house

below: A very standard row of semi-divided houses; a common sight.  Hundreds (thousands?) of these were built around the city.

a semi divided house on bathurst street, two storey, bay windows on upper floor, porches, stairs to front door

below: And a not so usual semi.

a semi divided house on bathurst street where one side has been rebuilt into a taller square structure

below: A touch of art deco.

two doors side by side with art deco motifs, on a low rise brick building

below: Slight larger houses, with turrets even!  (or is there another name for this architectural element?)

a semi divided house on bathurst street both with small turrets above upper floor bay windows

below: This is part of Coopers Hawk Lane which is just south of Dupont.

buildings and garages in a lane, Coopers Hawk Lane, garage doors have street art on them.

painting of a wooden box with papers in it, pictures of people on the papers

below: In another nearby alley …. a pink cat eating ice cream

two doors in an alley, painted, one in colours, the other in black and white

below: And a gate with a frame, and the laundry beyond.

a chainlink fence and gate in a back yard, laundry hanging out to dry in the yard, brick houses, some green grass

red octagonal stop sign with a sticker on it that says take a breath

 

July is still hot and still humid.  Not complaining though – it’s just part of my excuse as to why I haven’t posted much recently.  Yesterday morning I managed to get myself out the door around 7:30 so I could walk comfortably – without drowning in sweat.

below: Getting ready to walk.

looking out the window of a Starbucks, backwards writing on the window, a dog tied to a tree, a bike,

I followed the morning light but still trying to stay away from places that are too familiar.   The following pictures are in no particular order.

below: With hands on hips, in an alley near Queen & John.

a woman walks down an alley, away from the camera, metal fire escape staircase is above her, brick buildings beside her

below: Vincent Van Gogh has taken up a position on Dundas Street across from the AGO.  This 8′ x 8′ sculpture sits in front of the Mayberry Fine Art gallery.  It is the work of Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard who recently had an exhibit at that gallery. Fafard has other works in the city – he is the artist that produced “The Pasture” which is the seven life-sized bronze cows outside TD Centre.  I don’t have a photo of the cows for this blog post, but if you don’t know the piece (or want to see it again), here is a link to an article about them.

large square blue and yellow artwork that looks like the face of Vincent Van Gogh in front of a building with pillars and front steps. A young woman is walking by

below: A large flower in an alley doorway.

painting of a large flower on a door in an alley

below: Beside the flower is a black and blue butterfly.

spray paint street art mural of a blue and black butterfly

below: A heart bursting with colour on Cayley Lane.

garage and garage door painted in mural with a red heart in the center, surrounded by pink, purple and blue triangles

below: Black face, white face. What emoji face are these?

graffiti on wall and on wood pole, both are faces with mouth and two round eyes

below: Harriet Boulton Smith is the ceremonial name for the section of John Street between Queen Street West and Stephanie Street.  Harriet Smith was the last owner of “The Grange” and Grange Park.  When she died in 1910, she left her home and seven acres of land to the Art Museum of Toronto (AMT).  The site is now the home of the Art Gallery of Ontario.  She also bequeathed the family art collection to the AMT.    This section of John Street was once the driveway to the Grange.

Toronto street sign for John Street, also called Harriet Boulton Smith Way

below: He lost his head in the lane.

a headless cardboard cut out of a Toronto Blue Jay baseball player, in a doorway, in a lane.

below: Taking the bathroom stall with him.  The toilet paper holder is empty though.

a man carries a metal divider from a bathroom, with toilet paper roll holder still attached, carrying it on his shoulder

below: One of my favorite windows.  Sunday was the day of the French vs Croatia soccer/football World Cup game and there was a group of France supporters gathering on Peter Street to watch the game.  Apparently the party after the game, celebrating France’s victory, spilled out onto the street afterwards but unfortunately I missed it.

the window of Nickys coffee shop, on red brick wall, with two women walking past, both are carrying French flags

below: Old rusty metal barrels and butterflies.

a tree grows behind old rusty metal barrels and a wall painted blue with little butterflies painted on it.

below: The ice cream “mane” is still there.  I frequently walk down an alley and wonder if I’ve ever been this way before… and then I spot an old friend and recognize where I am.  That was the case when I spotted the ice cream guy (mane?  why mane?).  I think he dates from 2014.

street art painting in a laneway of a man in white uniform and hat, holding popsicle in one hand and ice cream cone in the other, words say ice cream mane

below: Same alley as the ice cream man, perhaps the same vintage originally?  The white swirls and the ‘love’ came after I think.

old street art, paint fading, of a blue man's face, and the word love

below: 24 hour public parking on the large sign, private parking on the small pink one but no one’s parking there anyhow.

parking lot, white wall behind, parking lot attendant booth covered in signs, 24 hour public parking, private parking,

below: Pasteups on plywood hoardings.  A love love love lovebot and a blessed urban ninja squadron amongst others.

paste ups on plywood hoardings,

below: Reflections

reflections of City TV building in a puddle

below: Large mural behind Queen Street West (south side) featuring queens of different sorts – cards, chess and people at the minimum.  “Queen Street West” designed and painted by Christiano De Araujo near the end of 2017.

large mural on the side of a building in an alley, theme is Queen Street west, queen of hearts heart, musicians,

below: Looking south on Soho Street towards Queen.  On the right is the new Mountain Equipment Coop store under construction.

looking down street towards Queen Street West

below: Street art in the greenery

street art in an alley

below: Lines. Electrical lines.  Horizontal lines of the stairs.  Vertical lines of the buildings.

metal staircase on upper level, street lights, electrical wires,

below: The next two photos are of a large mural on the back of a new building.  The first picture shows the figures on the right hand side of the mural.  Figures in action.

below: The Umbra building is clad with vertical lines made from a material that takes on different colours depending on the light.

building, umbra store, vertical lines on exterior of a material that changes colour depending on the light

below: Who is she?

below: Bent metal bracket

bent metal bracket on a white (painted) wood utility pool

Today, Monday, the sky looks stormy.  Perhaps a good thunderstorm will take away the humidity.  Whatever the weather, I’ll be back soon!

Another story of changes underway;
more documentation of buildings about to disappear.

trees and overgrown yard, two large signs advertising townhouse developments to come

On a leafy stretch of Bayview Avenue, there are some buildings that now sit empty.  The weeds have taken over the yards, as have large signs advertising the townhouse development that will be built there.   Actually the signs are only on one yard, this one:

below:  There are curtains in the window but some shingles are missing and the frontyard is overgrown with weeds – 2716 Bayview Avenue, sitting empty.   If you drive past it on Bayview you’d probably miss it because of the large trees between the house and the street.

small brick house with attached garage, overgrown front yard, tiger lilies growing by the front, piles of mulch on driveway, some ivy on front of house, some shingles missing from the roof

below: Nature takes over very quickly if you let it.  The lilies haven’t lost to the thistles yet though.

thistles, orange tiger lilies, and ivy, growing in a garden at the front of a house

below: The backyard was very overgrown too. The side door was open but I didn’t go in.  The basement appears to be in good shape.

an open basement door on the side of a house, overgrown yard, pile of debris in the foreground

If you go to their website, only 7 townhouses are shown in the drawings while the properties on either side of it (4 in total) are included in the plans as “future development”.   If you look at the original application on the City of Toronto website, the whole plan called for 20 townhouses facing Bayview Ave and a single family dwelling facing the street behind.  Each townhouse is 4 storeys (including basement level which is half garage and driveway) and 18’9″ wide.  The above ground levels are 47′ deep.   The site drawings and architectural plans were from June 2017.   I am not sure why the discrepancy.  It’s not uncommon for changes to occur between the planning stage and the final product…   So take the measurements that I just gave you with a grain of salt.

below:  One house to the south, 2710 Bayview.  A newer style house than its neighbour with part of its front yard hidden behind a glass block wall.   It too is set back a large distance from the street.  Once upon a time, someone put some love and care into this house.   I hoped that it was well used in its time.

modern style house with glass brick wall in front, around a front porch, large spruce tree, overgrown driveway,

modern style house with glass brick wall in front, around a front porch, large spruce tree, overgrown driveway,

double red doors, front entrance way to an empty modern design house

below:  Moving north, this is 2720 Bayview.  There is evidence that large trees have already been cut down.  At the moment all the evidence is well hidden from passers-by.   A year ago, farther south on Bayview a developer cut down 30+ large trees without permits from the city because they were building townhouses on the site  The outcry was big but the penalty is small.

white stucco bungalow with the remains of a chopped up tree in front

below: But….  if you have permission to build townhouses, there is no way the trees can stay.  Any plan that involves creating 20 new townhouses in less space than four single houses doesn’t leave room for large trees.  Those will be a thing of the past on this stretch of Bayview.  The one below was so big that I couldn’t reach around the trunk of the tree.

a large mature broadleaf tree in summer, green

below: The fourth building, 2722 Bayview, was originally built as a residence, but it has been a medical clinic for decades.  If you peer in the window, there are still posters on the wall (Is It Flu?) and even reading material on the table ([something] Task Force).  There is a sign on the front door that says that 2 June 2017 was the last day the clinic was open.

interior of medical clinic, no longer used, looking in the window, chair, posters on wall,

weeds coing up through the cracks in the pavement of a parking lot in front of an unused medical clinic, front entrance of the clinic, full length windows

Lastly, I took a picture of this house too as it is beside the ones above.   The “Notice” sign on the fence was a bit of a surprise considering how new the house was.  My original assumption was that the house was going to be demolished.  In fact, the planning application says that the house will be moved to the back of the property and three townhouses will be built in front.  One driveway down the north side of the property will access both the new townhouses and the moved house.

Apparently the application was submitted in December 2016 –  However, I noticed that the original application called for three 3 storey townhouses (and is on the City of Toronto website as such).  The sign says three 4 storey townhouses and a three storey single family dwelling.  The house in the photo is only 2 storeys.

a city of Toronto blue and white notice of development sign is on a black wrought iron fence in front of a large stone faced two storey house with a large front yard, grass and shrubs

What I’ve also learned while researching these properties, is that there is an official document called, “Bayview Townhouse Design Guidelines” that covers Bayview Avenue from the 401 south to Lawrence Avenue East.  It was adopted by City Council late in 2015.   In fact, large portions of the city have design guidelines and you can find them online.

I was curious to find out how many ongoing development proposals/applications there are in the city.  There is an interactive searchable map online that I used.  When I searched on ward 25 (where the above sites are), it showed 52 locations.  When I tried searching on the whole city, there were too many results.  If you’re interested in development, you can play with the website too!

thistles, close up of flower part of thistle, one purple flower

weeds growing out of cracks in the pavement of a parking lot, handicapped parking sign still there.

… and vicinity

The Bentway is a new park being built under the Gardiner Expressway between Bathurst and Strachan.  I walked it almost two years ago when the park was only in the planning stages.   I thought that I’d take a look at it again the other day.  Originally, it was supposed to be ready last summer so it’s a bit behind schedule.  Surprised?

Walking south on Strachan from King, and whoa, there are changes happening here too.  Cranes everywhere.  Holes in the ground.   How many people are employed in the construction industry in Toronto?  in the GTA?

below: Looking eastward from Strachan Avenue, immediately south of King Street.

looking east from Strachan, immediately south of King, past older brick buildings to the CN Tower and city skyline

below: The view from a few metres farther south on Strachan.  The metal grid covers the railway tracks and supports the retaining walls on either side.  It also makes an interesting pattern.  These tracks turn northward – they are used by the UP Express to the airport and GO trains to places like Georgetown and Barrie.   There’s the CN Tower again – just in case you’re a CN Tower junkie like me.  I can’t resist taking pictures of it, especially when I find new angles, new foregrounds.

looing over the railway tracks to city skyline and CN Tower, construction of new building on the right

below: Immediately south of the train tracks is Ordnance Street.  Until recently it was a sleepy little dead end street of light industrials.

cement truck on street in front of construction site, cranes, fences, building about 20 storeys high

below: Ouch! Look at all those transformers on the poles.

 

white crane in the background, many hydro utility poles, with large grey cylindrical transformers on each of them

below: The east end of Ordnance Street is at Strachan.   It doesn’t actually end there, but continues on the west side as East Liberty Street.  This is the eastern edge of Liberty Village.

the NW corner of Strachan Ave and East Liberty Street, construction site with fence and hoardings.

Sorry, we haven’t got to the Bentway yet.  If you are a Torontonian you should now have your bearings and know at least approximately where you are.  Not far to go now.  It’s a beautiful day and we’re walking slow!

The Ordnance Street development is on a triangle of land with one side as Strachan Avenue and the other two sides as railway lines.

below: You’ll have to take my word for it that the construction on Ordnance Street is just behind the bushes on the left.   These are the tracks that run to the west and the bridge over the tracks is at Bathurst Street.  By this time, the two sets of tracks have come together as they approach Union Station.

railway tracks and CN Tower

below: One of the first views of the Bentway.  More construction.  I was standing on Strachan when I took this picture.  This is the beginnings of a new entrance to the Bentway – a large staircase down the hill from the street.  The steps are wide to allow for multiple uses – a place to gather, a place for entertainment.

construction under the elevated Gardiner Expressway, making a large set of stairs down from Strachan Ave to Grenadier Common near Fort York

below: This end of the Bentway parallels Garrison Common.  The Ordnance Street development can still be seen but there is also another structure being built on Garrison Common side of the railway tracks.

construction of an elevated ramp beside a park from a distance, with condo building going on behind it

below: A closer look.  It appears to be a ramp to a pedestrian/cycle bridge that will cross the tracks and join Ordnance Street to the Bentway, Fort York, and the streets/paths to the south.  I also really like the billboards – one with graffiti and the other is empty.

billboard beside construction of an elevated ramp beside a park

below: The new rusty entrance to the Fort York Visitors Centerentrance to Fort York visitors centre, rusted metal panels on exterior walls and as covering over doorway

 

below: Just beyond the visitor’s center, the Bentway is closer to completion. There was a skating rink here this past winter.

concrete path winds under the bents and pillars of the Gardiner Expressway

below: Also here is an installation by Dana Claxton called ‘Forest of Canoes’.  Colourful images of canoes on the concrete pillars.  Light-wise, they are probably best seen in the morning but that’s not when I was there.

at the Bentway, Dana Claxton's 'Forest of Canoes' art installation of pictures of canoes on the concrete supports of the Gardiner Expressway - grey canoe on black background

The Bentway follows the shoreline of Lake Ontario that existed before landfill was used to create a space for the railway lines.  Canoes were once an essential means of transport.  Now their images sit on concrete pillars that hold up the Gardiner Expressway where thousands of cars pass by every day.

at the Bentway, Dana Claxton's 'Forest of Canoes' art installation of pictures of canoes on the concrete supports of the Gardiner Expressway - blue canoe

at the Bentway, Dana Claxton's 'Forest of Canoes' art installation of pictures of canoes on the concrete supports of the Gardiner Expressway - cedar strip canoe

below: In the bottom left corner of this picture is what looks like a bluish blob.  My apologies to the artist for calling it a blob but I’ll blame it on the lack of light and therefore, the lack of detail, in the photo.  This is another art piece.  It is ‘Future Snowmachine in Kinngait (Colossus)’ by Janice Qimirpik, Moe Kelly, Embassy of Imagination, and PA System.  Embassy of Imagination is a collaboration between PA System (Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka) and youth in the Cape Dorset community of Kinngait.  This sculpture started with small playdough models of snowmobiles made by Qimirpik and Kelly.  They were then scaled into a larger than life sculpture.

at the Bentway, Dana Claxton's 'Forest of Canoes' art installation of pictures of canoes on the concrete supports of the Gardiner Expressway

The next part of the Bentway is under construction and there is still no pedestrian crossing across Fort York Blvd and is passes diagonally under the Gardiner.   There is (was?) one in the plan.

below: This sculpture is on the corner of Fort York Blvd and Grand Magazine Street.  It is ‘Fountaingrove’ by Carlo Cesta and Nestor Kruger, 2014.  It sits above the Garrison Creek Culvert that carries the now buried creek to the lake.  Like the name states, it represents water in fountains.   Of course there is a white crane hiding behind it.

part of a metal twisty sculpture, condos behind, blue sky, sun spot

below: Just west of Bathurst Street

blue surface, window relief sculpture in it, other side is artifical rock, under the Gardiner Expressway, lock stone ground,

below: Getting cosy.  Condos rise up right beside the Gardiner Expressway.  If you’ve driven across the Gardiner, you’ll know just how close some of the buildings are to the traffic.   How useful is a balcony if it’s metres away from a highway and from all those cars and trucks?  They keep being built and people keep buying them.

below: I couldn’t resist all the yellow and orange bits and pieces!

yellow circular bike rack, bikes, condos,

below: On the east side of Bathurst is the construction of a new Loblaws.  It never ends does it?

construction site that is partially covered by the Gardiner Expressway

This blog may have been a bit heavier on construction photos than you were expecting, especially since the title was about canoes. There was just so much work going on in that area that it was hard to avoid.  The next time that I walk this area it will probably be totally different… unfortunately new buildings are a lot duller to look at than construction sites so there may not be many photos!

on grey construction hoardings, a sign tat says post no bills. Someone has added 4 stencils of different Bills, Bill Murray, Bill Clinton.

Dana Claxton canoe image at Bentway, Forest of Canoes, multicoloured, bright colours,

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.