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Yonge, St. Joseph to get major overhaul with 45-storey tower and renovated retail

Yonge Street stands to get a major overhaul just south of Bloor thanks to a large new condo development set to launch in June.

MOD Developments has received the permission from and the blessings of Heritage Toronto to pull together the properties at 5 St Joseph and half a block's worth of retail on Yonge south of St Joseph into a development called 5 St Joseph, designed by Hariri Pontarini.

The tower will be 45 storeys, retaining the 1905 façade on St Joseph, an address long known for the cavalcade of clubs that have operated out of the space, from Colby's in the 80s, The Playground in the 90s, and, most recently, Katrina's.

With its undulating balconies and its sheer height, 5 St. Joseph will add another architectural chapter to this short street that's been marked by every era since the late Victorian.

But it's the Yonge Street side that may end up having the greatest effect on the area, and the city at large.

"I would love to put in the kind of uses, relating to food, that you see on Church Street, like Cumbrae's and Pusateri," says MOD Developments' president and CEO Gary Switzer, formerly of Great Gulf Homes, of the five buildings he's bought and will completely renovate and restore. "Yonge Street has a little Sobey's up the street, but with the number of people living in the area, it could support a good fruit store."

When it is suggested that the reason Yonge Street doesn't have a fruit store is that the rents are too high to make one feasible, Switzer says that he has the "flexibility" to modulate rents to attract the sorts of businesses he'd like to see there, and that would best serve the future residents of 5 St. Joseph.

"I've walked those blocks so many times," he says, "and the buildings themselves are quite nice individually, but because the retail is so bland and unappealing, it's not like  you have any landmarks that you can say, 'Let's eat over here," or "Let's go over there.' I think it's getting better, but I think it needs a lot of work."

Construction and restoration are expected to begin in June, 2011, with occupancy set for three years later.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gary Switzer

CORRECTION: Graywood Developments Ltd. is also a development partner for 5 St. Joseph.

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