Leaside residents are enraged that a buyer has purchased a historical, landmark home, and has sought approval to sever the lot into three parcels!
Fight the good fight, folks!
This from the East York Mirror this week:
A new owner of a heritage-listed Leaside home is holding an information session to let residents know about planned changes to the property.
Elgie Farmhouse, the prominent red brick farmhouse at 262 Bessborough Dr., is listed, but not fully designated, under the Ontario Heritage Act. The property’s new owner wants to remove the house’s north and south wings, which were added after it was originally built, and restore the front and sides of the building.
The owner also plans to relocate the home near the front of the property, and sever the current lot into three, with the farmhouse occupying the middle lot and a new house built on each remaining lot.
The new lots would be approximately 30 feet wide and would conform to applicable bylaws.
To change the design of the lot, at least one mature tree would be removed, and a number of new trees planted.
A rezoning application for the property has not yet been filed with the city. The meeting, held at the suggestion of Don Valley West Councillor John Parker, is for the benefit of interested community members, and is not a required meeting.
At the information session, residents will have the chance to speak with the property owner and architects about the proposed changes.
The meeting takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Leaside Library, 165 McRae Dr.
So let me get this straight…
A developer, whose name is not known by anybody in the Leaside community, and who hasn’t worked in the area before, has purchased a magnificent, original, historical home, and now wants to demolish it and build three in its place?
Oh I know – he says he wants to “reposition” the house, but let’s cut through that crap and get right to the point: the developer wants to sub-divide the 100-foot lot and build three houses in its place, on a prime street, in a booming neighbourhood.
Fight it, folks.
Fight it, tooth and nail.
About ten years ago, another original, landmark house came up for sale in Leaside, and there was some discussion about “what to do with it.”
Residents were afraid that the farmhouse, which sits sideways on Heather Road (it was built before any of the other homes, and thus it’s turned diagonally when compared to the ‘newer’ homes built in the ’40’s and ’50’s), would be purchased by a developer or opportunist, and torn down.
As luck would have it, a former Toronto Maple Leaf who lived in the area ended up purchasing the house, and he and his wife worked to restore the home to its former glory. The house is now a landmark of a different type; it combines Leaside’s history with a bit of a modern flair. For example, the property is fenced-in with a very classic-looking cowboy-ranch-like wooden fence that is only waist-high. It looks to me like something out of Wyoming or perhaps the time period when this house was built.
The problem with houses like the one on Heather Road, and the one at 262 Bessborough Drive, is that they’re not “designated” as historical under the Ontario Heritage Act, but rather just “listed.”
The house at 262 Bessborough Drive, like the one on Heather Road, and like another down on Sutherland (home to one of my childhood friends), is an original Lea home, as in the Lea Family, after whichLeasidewas named.
These houses are a part of the social fabric of Leaside, and I don’t think you can make any comparison to other homes in the area. Look at the map of the house on Land Registry and you’ll see just what a magnificent and unique piece of property this is:
I talked to Patrick Rocca about this on Tuesday afternoon.
For those of you that don’t know Patrick, he’s the number-one real estate agent in Leaside, about 10-15 years running, but he’s also a resident who has raised a family in the area, in three different homes, and who has served on just about every community board and in every group.
“I can’t even believe it’s being considered,” said Patrick. “It’s one of the most historical properties in Leaside; it just can’t happen.”
Patrick, like every other Leaside resident (including myself – growing up and walking by that house every day on my way to school), understands that developers are present in every neighbourhood, but believes this situation is different.
“This isn’t just a builder coming into Leaside to top-up a bungalow, or build a stucco box. This is an unknown developer, looking to come in and destroy a part of Leaside’s heritage, history, community, and tear away at the social fabric of the neighbourhood.”
He added, “To allow this, would be archaic.”
The developer has petitioned for permission toremove the north and south wings of the house to restore the front and sides of the building.
What does that mean? It means: Tear off two-thirds of the house so that two other houses can be built next door.
Have a look at the property as it stood in 1952:
That’s the original house (great cars too!) that rises two storey, and since then, the house has tripled in size.
The developer lacks any sort of tact or discretion, and his objectives are completely transparent.
I’m a capitalist, and I’m all for adventures in the nature of trade, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise, there’d be no minimum wage laws, nor would there be any rules against dumping toxic waste in playgrounds, etc.
“Renovate the house; restore it. Keep the integrity of the home, and thus the integrity of the area,” says Patrick Rocca. “I will do anything in my power to fight this, personally. That’s how strongly I feel.”
I don’t think he’s alone.
Here’s the notice, for all those interested: