The owner of the building that houses gay nightclub fly and its resto-bar, Fire on the East Side, has submitted a rezoning application to the city requesting permission to build a 29-storey condo tower on the property.
If the nearly 100-metre tower proposal is approved, both spots could be forced from their current locations. Fly holds a lease on its current location at 8 Gloucester St until 2015, which is the earliest it could be kicked out.
The proposal faces a number of hurdles before the city approves it. The affected properties at 2-8 Gloucester St have all been designated as protected under the Ontario Heritage Act, meaning that any development would have to be approved by the city’s Preservation Board.
The current application would leave the Masonic Temple, at 2 Gloucester St, untouched while gutting the properties at 6 and 8 Gloucester, leaving only their facades.
The proposed tower also exceeds the area’s current height restrictions and may cast shadows on the neighbouring Norman Jewison Park. There is also concern that it would encroach on existing parking in the laneway.
The owners of fly appear confident that the application as submitted won’t be approved, but they are prepared to move if they’re forced out.
“By mid-2013 we’ll have a better sense of what [the end of our current lease] will mean, so we’ll look at options to move both fly and Fire on the East Side,” says Ian Malcolm, one of the club’s owners. “But the landowner has a fair number of hurdles to jump through before the rezoning application is approved.”
Local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says she’s concerned about the loss of two of the neighbourhood’s queer hangouts.
“I know there’s some iconic businesses that the community cherishes that will be lost or have to move if the zoning goes ahead,” she says. “It’s really important to recognize that the key to any successful business environment is diversity.”
Wong-Tam says that if the clubs are forced to move, she will help them obtain liquor permits at their new locations.
“I’m not closed to having nightclubs in the neighbourhood,” she says. “You cannot have a vibrant gay village without a vibrant nightlife. We are social creatures; we love to go out, and we’re very good at doing so.
“I will not raise objections when the AGCO asks me if I have objections,” she adds.
The rezoning approval process will take at least nine months, according to the city planning department. The landowner’s proposal will first have to pass a heritage assessment, then a zoning review. After that, it will have to pass a detailed site plan review. The community will be able to participate in a public consultation on the proposals in the fall, city planning staff say.
This proposal comes shortly after pressure from the community led developers to withdraw a proposal to gut heritage properties at Church and Gloucester streets, home to queer hangouts Sugo and Fuzion, to build a massive tower.
The strip of Yonge St will soon be flooded with development and rezoning proposals.
A similar proposal was recently submitted to build a condo on Yonge St spanning the block from Maitland to Alexander streets.
Condo developers have also had meetings with the city to discuss rezoning applications for 599 Yonge St, at Gloucester, and 9 Isabella St, at Yonge, a source at the planning department has confirmed. Applications for these projects have not yet been submitted.
A condo tower has also been proposed for the parking lot across the street from The Barn.