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Wellesley Street condo plans move forward

Community council approves new towers on edge of Village

An artist’s rendition of the proposed 50 Wellesley St E tower. Credit: Plaza

The condo towers proposed for 11 Wellesley St W and 50 Wellesley St E both received nods of approval at the Toronto and East York Community Council, bringing each project one step closer to becoming a reality in the neighbourhood.

It’s the latest step in a long saga for the lots, both of which have sat vacant for years despite the building boom in the city. The lot on 11 Wellesley was once given to the province to be the site of a new opera house, but development was cancelled during the 1991 recession. Despite demands from local residents, who wished to see the land turned into a neighbourhood park again, the province eventually sold the lot to a developer.

Community council gave its final approval to the 11 Wellesley St W development proposal, which comes with a formal agreement to turn over more than 5,300 square metres of the lot for the creation of a new park. This is in addition to any other benefits obtained from Section 37  — the part of the Planning Act that allows municipalities to secure benefits for communities undergoing land development — that may be negotiated prior to approval of the site plan.

The same developer, Lanterra, is behind the planned renovations of neighbouring Sutton Place and a pair of condo towers across the street at 501 Yonge St, stretching from Maitland to Alexander.

In the meantime, the public land at 11 Wellesley St W has been opened up as a weekly public market. Vendors are invited to apply for inexpensive spaces to hawk their goods on the future park grounds.

The lot at 50 Wellesley St E has been vacant for nearly a decade; one reason for the delay was a complaint from a neighbouring development proposal. The newly approved preliminary plan calls for the tower to be set well back from the street and away from the neighbouring building to the west, breaking up the street wall. The new building will incorporate street-level retail space to help animate the block. 

The developer will hold public consultations and make adjustments to the proposal before applying for final approval next year, but some neighbours are already concerned about the project.

“They’re clearly overbuilding that whole piece of Wellesley, but it had been approved a long time ago, in Kyle Rae’s day,” says Robert Fabian, a member of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association. He says the entire block bounded by Wellesley, Yonge, Dundonald and Church streets will soon be filled with condo towers.

“It’s going to be a jam-packed block. It’s unfortunate there’s history that allowed [this] to happen, but it happened. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s enthusiastic about it,” he says.

In other neighbourhood development news, community council made a zoning amendment to Charles and Hayden streets at the north end of the Village, permitting the construction of a 55-storey condo building with ground-level retail. The council also announced its intention to designate two of the affected properties as heritage buildings, which will be preserved during construction.

Construction began this week on a new condo at 555 Sherbourne St, previously occupied by a No Frills grocery store. The grocery was closed last year to make way for the condo, which will house a FreshCo when completed.

Community council also passed a motion requesting that staff begin the consultation process on “Enhancing the Name of Allan Gardens to Reflect the Spirit of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Proclamation.” A new “enhanced” name for the park would reflect council’s commitment to “acknowledge the impact of the Residential School System on Aboriginal peoples and on all Canadians,” Councillor Mike Layton writes in a letter to council.