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Fly nightclub likely saved from the wrecking ball

Condos still expected 'eventually'

Fly nightclub, at 8 Gloucester St. Credit: Xtra file photo

The future is still up in the air, but for now, Village nightclub Fly and restaurant Fire on the East Side will stay put.

Owner Keir MacRae says the landlord of 8 Gloucester St has put a nine-year lease on the table.

MacRae says he and his co-owners haven’t yet accepted the deal. There are still some negotiations to do with the property owner, but it’s very likely the club and restaurant will not be demolished, as had been reported previously.

“We’ve known for about 10 years that a condo development is expected on the site,” MacRae says. “So, there will be a condo at some point in the future, but the owner doesn’t seem to be in a rush to develop a condo, so that gives us some time to stay there.”

The application for rezoning was approved by city council in May. That means the proposed development of a 29-storey, 211-unit condominium project can go forward, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says.

MacRae says he has known that Fly could eventually become a condo building ever since he took over the club in 2002.

Xtra could not reach the owner of the property for comment.

When a condo development is eventually secured, MacRae says, Fly will likely be forced to close during construction or relocate. “They probably don’t want a big club underneath a residential condo. They may keep the retail space and the restaurant, but none of that has been discussed so far.”

Wong-Tam says there was no indication in the consultation period that construction would start right away. “He told me that he has every intention of developing, but the market conditions have changed somewhat,” she says. “Developers are looking at their sites with long-term views.”

During consultations for the development, the potential loss of a gay dance club was not one of the main concerns she heard from the community. Rather, people were afraid that the condo tower would cast shadows all day on Norman Jewison Park. “But I do think that [gay clubs and dance spaces should] stay alive. It’s an important part of our community.”

Wong-Tam is pleased that Fly and Fire on the East Side have been offered lease extensions and says she is not surprised. “Condo developers are telling me that the units have not been selling as quickly and as robustly as they would have anticipated, which means they are proceeding with any new development with more caution,” she says.

She says some developers are holding on to their projects and approvals and not rushing to build. And it’s not just in Ward 27, she says; it’s a trend that is happening all over the city.

“We do receive the lion’s share of development in Ward 27,” she says. “The condo market is still generally strong in the downtown core, compared to the more suburban real estate markets. That’s because the core is often the most resilient.”

Toronto’s condo boom has not stopped, but there are signs on the horizon that signal it may be levelling off.

“We’ve had almost 15 years of unprecedented growth with respect to urban development. So it’s now taking longer to sell, and some of the prices are softening,” Wong-Tam says. “This is not to say that this is in any way a collapse of the real estate market.”