Should We Replace Toronto Heritage Buildings With Condos?

I ask the question, because it’s probably being posed behind closed doors among Toronto City Councilors, as they seek to raise more and more revenue to fund a city that, I believe, spends far more money than they can afford to.

I’m a proud Torontonian, and believe it or not, I’m sappy and nostalgic too.

I love living in the St. Lawrence Market area specifically because of all the history that exists, and this is showcased through every red brick on every vintage 1800’s building that adorn the streets of the SLM neighbourhood.

Would you be in favour of tearing that down?

Well, that “Notice” sign sure fooled me!

When a blog reader emailed me to say, “Can you believe they’re going to tear down 187 King Street?” I immediately set out to investigate for myself.

Here’s the public notice:

65GeorgeNotice

And if you want to zoom in on the image, you can see that 187 King Street, aka the “Little York Hotel,” will be retained, and possibly incorporated into the project.

As I mentioned in the video, this site, as well as the building itself, have historical significance.

Here are the two plaques that appear on the building.

The first is the “Home School District” plaque, that explains the importance of this site:

HomeDistrictSchool

The second is the “Little York Hotel” plaque, that refers specifically to the existing building, which is almost as old as Canada itself:

LittleYorkHotel

So as to the question, “Do you care if heritage buildings are torn down to make way for condominiums?” I would think the answer would be a resounding “yes,” and that most of you would be in favour of preserving what little history we have in Toronto.  But then I remember a blog post I wrote back in 2013, about a landmark home in Leaside, which was being torn down so a developer could build three homes in its place.

Read the 2013 blog post HERE.

I’m not often caught off guard when I write a blog.

I know the night before, when I click “Publish” on tomorrow’s blog, whether or not I’m going to be on the receiving end of nasty comments, and as you know, sometimes it’s by design.

But when it came to this 2013 blog about the demolition of 262 Bessborough Drive, I was shocked at the response from my readers, who couldn’t care less about that house, and told me I was naive and foolish to think otherwise.

So was I wrong then?  Am I wrong now?

Let me know what you think…

10 Comments

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  1. Marina says:

    I like incorporating the facade of old buildings into new ones.
    That said, there is also something disturbing about the sheer number of condos going up. When do we start to outpace the infrastructure we have?

    David, I’d love your take on the condo building being put up next to John Fisher up at Yonge and Eglinton. I’m super biased in absolutely hating that project, but I’d love a professional take on it.

    1. @ Marina

      It’s a sign of the times – that the City of Toronto disapproved of the project, and the Ontario Municipal Board gave it the green light.

      Developers run the city of Toronto. Without development levies and property taxes, the city would be bankrupt. Developers get to do what ever they want.

      I hate the idea of a 35-storey condominium being built on a tiny lot, overlooking morning and afternoon recess. But what’s worse, in the short-term at least, is going to be the 3-years of construction that leads to road closures, incessant noise during classes and outdoor activities, and dust and debris that no child should have to deal with.

  2. Natrx says:

    It’s funny. The very thing that gave Toronto it’s character (old buildings, small shops) are all being replaced by Condos. The Yonge corridor, especially Yonge and Bloor and Eglinton come to mind.

    Why not just get rid of every small business building, apt, heritage building, etc., and replace it with condos. This whole idea about shops and parks is nonsense. The city should be wall to wall condos all throughout.

  3. sevyn says:

    DON’T DO IT. I am against it completely. We should leave historic buildings alone as long as they are not falling apart outside and leaving debris.

  4. T says:

    Tear them all down! Who cares about these old absoestos and mould infested structures? The ugly facades are keeping property values down in the areas around these old properties.

  5. Joel says:

    As long as they leave the brick up, or restore and replace it I am fine with it. What Loblaws is doing on Queens Quay comes to mind and I like that project. Loblaws also did wonders with the Maple Leaf Gardens.

    There are few buildings in Toronto that I think need to be left as is, and this is not one. Now if the St.Lawrence market were to be turned into condos I would be upset.

  6. esmeralda says:

    I also live in the St. Lawrence neighborhood and I”m saddened by this. Based on the notice, it is a 17-storey twoer that will be wedged in & over this heritage building. Is this even in keeping with other buildings that are not as high in the surroundings? I know you can’t stop progress… but gee whiz can we get away from yet another glass tower replicant??

  7. johnny chase says:

    There is good heritage and then there is bad heritage. Take a look at 25 Ontario… apparently it’s a heritage building and the facade needs to be kept.

    1. Geoff says:

      +1 on good heritage and bad heritage. Just cause it’s old, don’t make it good…. (though undoubtedly this opens up a can of worms on who gets to decide what’s good or not, even if 90% of people can agree that still leaves the 10% who don’t).

      1. jeff316 says:

        Agreed. We venerate some pretty average architecture simply because we’re young. I’m less concerned about saving every brick building and more concerned with the quality and the character of what’s being put up.

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