OA_show('Wallpaper');
OA_show('Leaderboard - Xx90');
Choose your edition:

Search form

Massive condo & retail complex slated for Yonge & Alexander

Massive condo & retail complex slated for Yonge & Alexander

IMAGE 1 OF 4
'It's gonna be a nightmare during construction,' resident
“A daunting presence on Yonge Street” is how an area resident describes a twin-tower condominium complex slated for development at Yonge and Alexander streets, a stone’s throw from Buddies in Bad Times theatre.

Two 58-storey glass towers containing 960 residential condominium units on a shared seven-storey podium/parking garage plus retail space has been proposed to stretch across a city block at 501 Yonge Street. The development proposal notice has been posted on the perimeter of the site.

“That area is dense with people. This is too much for that site. It overloads it,” says Robert Fabian, who owns a condo at 25 Maitland, home to about 162 units. His building, and its rooftop pool, will be in shadow for most of the day if he towers are built. Fabian says his condo board has lawyered up and is preparing for a fight.

“This is an oppressive, Soviet-style design,” he says. Fabian recently launched a website to gather feedback from neighbourhood residents and share information on the proposal. “It’s going to be an overpowering, ungrateful and ugly structure.”


Lanterra Developments did not return Xtra’s interview requests. An application to develop the strip of restaurants and retail shops from Maitland to Alexander streets is moving through city hall, ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says.

If the “aggressive” project goes through as planned, Wong-Tam says she fears Yonge St will start to look similar to Bay St. “Right now this looks very much like a Bay St tower, which means in its current form it doesn’t quite fit on Yonge St, yet. It needs work.”

Both Wong-Tam and Fabian identified several concerns that could affect development as the process unfolds, including major traffic tie-ups, a less attractive and less inviting pedestrian walkway, increased congestion and pollution during construction and a transit infrastructure that is already at capacity.


“There’s going to be serious issues while they construct it because they are going to have to close lanes,” Fabian says. “It’s gonna be a nightmare during construction.”

Wong-Tam says an influx of that many people will weigh heavily on services. An improved transit strategy will need to be included in the plans. “The amount of people who take the Yonge Street subway at rush hour is already at capacity. It’s crowded. It’s unsafe.”

Construction will have major impacts on the Church and Wellesley Village. “It’s gonna get crowded. Keep in mind, our sidewalks aren’t getting any wider and we haven’t received new money for infrastructure or transit. There’s going to be shadow impacts and we have to take that into consideration,” Wong-Tam says.

Brendan Healy, artistic director at Buddies in Bad Times, says he’s been to city hall to see the plans and is watching the development closely. “It’s massive, so we are going to want to work with the developer to minimize the impact on us, especially during construction. But, I feel development is inevitable, especially on Yonge… This will certainly change the character of the neighbourhood.”


Wong-Tam says she will ensure traffic and environmental impact studies are done. “This is an opportunity to really enhance the streetscape or to be another missed opportunity if we don’t carefully manage the application.”

Still, area residents are asking questions. “What’s going to happen to World Pride in 2014?” Fabian reminds. “That’s about the time they’ll be closing off Maitland and lanes on Alexander and Yonge.”

It’s too early in the process to know, Wong-Tam says. Right now, various city departments are reviewing and responding to the proposal. “We have to look at the application in its entirety, and that includes the public realm experience, how the development will impact pedestrians.”

City planner Sarah Henstock says no date has been set for the community consultation meeting yet. Wong-Tam expects the meeting to be lively and well attended. “I hope that residents, business owners and property owners bring some ideas, not what they don’t want to see, but come to the table with what they do think is appropriate.”

The application won’t see approval for about a year, she says. In the meantime, Wong-Tam is setting up a working group with interested stakeholders. “We’re very far away from an approved application.”

“We have to ensure developments are appropriate, sustainable and responsible in the long run. And, ultimately, beautiful. People want to see beauty out their window… We can do better in Ward 27.”


OA_show('Text Ad - #1');
OA_show('Text Ad - #2');

Comments

NIMBY not the issue
From day one I recognized that some form of development was likely in this block of Yonge Street. The question really is about the kind of development that will make a positive contribution to the Yonge streetscape, and maintain the connection between the Church Wellesley neighbourhood and the commercial Yonge Street. On both counts, the Lanterra proposal comes up short. In the larger scheme of things, the impact on the condos at 25 Maitland should not be seen as all that important. Living downtown, it's almost inevitabel that there will be some new buildings put up "next door". But the new buildings should enhance the Yonge streetscape and maintain if not improve the flow between commercial Yonge Street and the Church Wellesley neighbourhood.

Bob Fabian
Meet the Street!
I don't care how high they build it, but they need to meet the street properly. This street is packed with pedestrians even in the winter!

Why not have an open area underneath the podium meeting the street with columns overhanging wide sidewalks. Bell Lightbox did a decent job with the restaurant at the base. Also, a major development like this should at least try to do what Ryerson is doing, or show some respect to the heritage of the street and make some faux buildings.

And really, with the amount of people in the area, what you really need is more retail, not more parking spots.
Not About NIMYISM
Wong-Tam is clearly not against development, but rather for responsible development. I personally don't feel any loyalty to developers who are throwing up generic, unattractive towers and cramming in as many people as possible to get as rich as possible. Rather, my loyalty lies with our communities. It amazes me that there are some people who feel this odd need to fight for massive corporations who couldn't care a flying fuck about them. Sure, put up a condo and some new shops, but don't be a greedy dick about it. Compromise is golden.
Enough Condos
Isn't this the 4th or 5th project going forward on Yonge between Bloor and Dundas? Taken together, I believe they're going to basically destroy the strip.

Most condo units in Toronto are being bought on speculation by offshore money, looking for an investment, not a place to live. And with prices averaging $500 a square foot now, who can afford to live in them anyway?

Condos are turning downtown into a tacky glass and plastic wasteland. The old brick buildings of Yonge are steeped with character, history, legend and culture. How many great bands are going to get their start playing a condo building? How many great films, plays & novels are going to be inspired by or written in these monstrosities? How many artists and painters, individualistic entrepreneurs, rebels and visionaries, are going to be incubated by an ugly monoculture of tacky crap consumerist architecture and corporate chain stores?

None, nada, zilch. Bye bye, Yonge - Thanks for everything you've done for Canada. It was nice knowing you.
Height isn't the issue...
To argue against downtown densification, construction and the protection of swimming pool views is the height of NIMBYism Mr. Fabian. Nonetheless, Kristyn Wong-Tam seems to have it. It's not the height that is really the issue here, but how it interracts with Yonge. T.O. doesn't have a good history of successful, colourful condo retail and that's a completely legitimate issue and actually the real issue here.
Good riddance
It will be wonderful to see the end of that strip of tacky shops and their replacement with residential property that will attract new businesses and cultural attractions as has been taking place in the entertainment district.
NIMBY
The proposed buildings aren not beautiful, but this isn't a discussion about aesthetics. We deserve better buildings in this city, but this guy is just concerned about shadows and noise. His own building is enormous, ugly, and was certainly a noise problem for someone else when IT was built.

I'm not one of these people who says that you can't complain becasue you live in a big city (I'm firmly in favour of strictire regulation on patios, for example) but living half a block off Yonge Street and not expecting construction? Come on.

At least they're not tearing down a heritage building.
Beautify our neighbourhood with Sculptural condos
2 plain ugly towers will just block the sun. We deserve more interesting sculptural buildings than they propose. Some examples come to mind: Burj Dubai, Shanghai Center, Absolute Tower in Mississauga, Twin Towers in Guangzhou, Tezozomoc and Xochimilco towers in Mexico, Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, Cobra Tower in Kuwait, Coop Himmelb(l)au in Frankfurt, even the Torre Espacio in Madrid. Toronto already looks like a city of warehouses. Lets push the condo company to contribute to the identity of Toronto and our neighbourhood with a unique international design including botanical gardens for the public to visit and to create oxygen. Let's work on beautifying our neighbourhood.
We deserve more interesting sculptural buildings
Anything would be better than the small rat-trap stores that are on Yonge/Maitland. now. BUT 2 plain ugly towers will just block the sun. We deserve more interesting sculptural buildings than they propose. Some examples come to mind: Burj Dubai, Shanghai Center, Absolute Tower in Mississauga, Twin Towers in Guangzhou, Tezozomoc and Xochimilco towers in Mexico, Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, Cobra Tower in Kuwait, Coop Himmelb(l)au in Frankfurt, even the Torre Espacio in Madrid. Toronto already looks like a city of warehouses. Lets push the condo company to contribute to the identity of Toronto and our neighbourhood with a unique international design including botanical gardens for the public to visit and to create oxygen.
Sign in or Register to post comments