Sad Silo Sight

Good news from City Hall….for a change.

The City of Toronto has abandoned a plan to turn these God-awful silos into a museum, and instead will raze the site which serves as a massive eyesore for residents of 650 Queen’s Quay.

So will our outgoing mayor, His Uselessness David Miller, give us a beautiful greenspace?  Or another condo…

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Just because I am a real estate agent doesn’t mean that I want to see condos anywhere and everywhere!

In fact, I think there are far too many condos in the city of Toronto, and more specifically: far too many ugly, poorly-designed, and poorly allocated condos in the city.

Take our waterfront, for example.

Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, probably spent a lot less time focusing on Toronto’s waterfront when appointed in 1834, and spent more time drinking at Montgomery’s Tavern and recruiting men to fight in the rebellion of 1837.

In the 1970’s, David Crombie served as our city’s mayor and tried to ensure that Toronto’s waterfront would be left unmolested, but eventually he was ousted as his urban-reform measures were seen by some as “anti-development policies.”

In the 1980’s, Toroto’s waterfront was home to some of the first condominiums on Queen’s Quay and Harbour Square.

Art Eggleton served as Toronto’s mayor from 1980 to 1991, and I’m going to assume that he is the man who is responsible (or at least paved the way) for the waterfront we all know and loathe today.

I’ve heard rumors and urban legends that in the 1980’s, some important figure-heads and politicians from Toronto met with the same from Chicago to discuss the risks and rewards associated with developing a downtown core that sits on a body of water.

Chicago has one of the most beautiful urban waterfronts among metropolitan areas in North America, and the Chicago brass warned those from Toronto about how quickly development could get out of hand, and how important a “master plan” would be since you really only get one shot at developing such a one-of-a-kind area.

But somewhere along the way, the advice from the Chicago team was lost, and the Toronto politicians welcomed the growing tax base from what started as 1-2 condos and now numbers somewhere around one-hundred waterfront condos.

And how much green-space do we have by the waterfront?

How many parks do we have by the waterfront?

How many beaches do we have?

And how does our waterfront compare to that of Chicago?

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It doesn’t compare.

Toronto’s waterfront is littered with condos, most of them sitting right on the base of the water leaving very little room (if any) for beaches, parks, or green space.

But what’s done is done, and we can’t look back.  We can only move forward.

Which brings me to the latest news from City Hall last week that the old Canada Malting Company towers down near 650 Queen’s Quay are going to be torn down.

Original plans called for the historic site to be converted to a $100 Million history museum, but nobody could seem to agree on what to do with the property.  The existing lease runs out in 2016, and plans have now shifted towards a demolition of the site.

The cost of restoring the “historic” property would be around $20 Million and the cost of demolishing it would be $7.6 Million.  The property has significant structural defects including unsafe marine legs and falling concrete.

Personally, I think the property is an eyesore.  I’m all for preserving Toronto’s heritage, as I have written about in countless blog posts before.  But this building is an industrial factory from the 1920’s which is ugly, decrepit, and unsafe.

I applaud the decision to tear down the structure, and I’m sure my clients with south-facing views at 650 Queen’s Quay will too.

But here is the question: what will be constructed on the vacant site once the building is gone?

There are two options:
1.  A park or green-space
2.  Yet, another condo

With a hundred condominiums already littering the waterfront, the choice is obvious to me: create a beach, a park, a baseball diamond, a jungle-gym, or ANYTHING that people might use!  Make a friggin’ hand-ball court or something, just not another condo!

When this story first broke, I assumed that David Miller would use this as a political tool to win re-election in 2010.  He could promise to build a giant ice-cream stand, and then simply not deliver on his promise just like every politician, everywhere…

But with the recent news that he won’t seek re-election (there is a God!), what will become of the land now?

I’m a huge fan of “The Atrium” at 650 Queen’s Quay.

The building is one-of-a-kind as far as Toronto condominiums go, as the atrium itself is unlike anything I’ve seen before…except in the movie True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Remember the scene when Arnold rides the horse into the lobby of a building and then while still mounted on the horse, he gets in the elevator?  The atrium from that scene is not unlike the one at 650 Queen’s Quay.

Here is a photo of the lobby from the elevator at 650 Queen’s Quay:

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Here is a view of the skylight from the floor of the lobby itself:

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Each floor has a corridor in the shape of a square the overlooks the atrium below.

There aren’t many amenities, common spaces, or building features in condominiums that can “sell” me, but the first time I walked into 650 Queen’s Quay, I was sold.  There is something so unique about the building.

The south-facing units provide the icing on the cake as the views of the lake can be spectacular, and in front of the lake is a massive park with a baseball diamond shown here:

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But look just a little to your left, and there you see the Canada Malting Company silos:

650pete2.JPGOn the one side you have a marina, and on the other side you have a beautiful park.

But there’s no avoiding this decrepit old building which ceases to serve any purpose but obscure the views for the residents of 650 Queen’s Quay, as my friend Pete can attest.  Thanks for the pics, Pete!

As I said before: I’m all for preserving Toronto’s history, but I don’t see the point in keeping this old industrial structure.

When Pete first bought his condo, everything about it was perfect, except for old Canada Malting Company tower.

Pete’s mom remarked, “Maybe they’ll tear it down in the next couple years,” to which I replied, “Let’s not base our purchase decision on a maybe.”

You’d be hard pressed to find a resident of 650 Queen’s Quay that is unhappy, but I can guarantee none of them would object to the demolition of the CMC.

But a word to David Miller -please, please please don’t allow the development of another awful 50-storey tower.

We’ve already got enough of those, and once they’re built, they’re here for good…

3 Comments

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  1. Krupo says:

    Ruined? Landfill created most of the land many of those condos sit on anyway – just extend the waterfront further out. 😉

  2. Meany says:

    yes, but, now that we have so thoroughly ruined the waterfront forever, what does it matter if they throw up yet another barrier to the water?

    It’s ruined!

  3. David Pylyp says:

    Wonderful and well meaning post aboout the future of the Toronto waterfront.
    I hope that those who are wise and in control of the development along the shoreline will consider the long term effects of endless development without public access to the parks and water.

    Thank you

    David Pylyp

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