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Riverdale-Danforth : Development News

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Broadview school expansion plan would integrate modernized facilities into heritage properties

Riverdale’s Montcrest School wants to expand its facility with a modern extension that will provide an interesting contrast with two of the heritage homes the school occupies on Broadview Avenue.

Montcrest’s 300 students—from junior kindergarten to grade eight—get their education in relatively cramped quarters. The 50-year-old independent school moved to Broadview from the Annex in the 1970s, starting in one leased house on Broadview that was eventually given to the school. As it expanded, the school purchased other homes in the neighbourhood and a couple of decades ago built a more traditional three-stsorey school building in the large adjoining lots backing onto the Don Valley. The leadership team had been looking for other neighbourhood properties to purchase but finally realized they might have to come up with a more creative solution on their existing footprint.

“We want to give our kids, especially in the older grades, the opportunity to have spaces to facilitate the types of learning they’re doing,” says Michael Dilworth, director of advancement. “It will give us more breathing room. Also, there’s the ancillary benefit where we can incorporate an improved art space and music space, which are both in the basement at the moment.” Enrollment might increase by a few dozen, but not much more than that.

The proposal, designed by MontgomerySisam Architects, retains the residential-style properties at 650, 658 and 660 Broadview Avenue but introduces new building forms behind and between 650 and 658 Broadview.

“We have been neighbours in Riverdale for a long time so we were happy to be able to maintain the integrity of the houses along Broadview. I think it will feel very much like the streetscape we have now, enhanced by a beautiful facility. I don’t know if I’d call the glass modern, but it integrates the old with the new," says Dilworth. "When someone is sitting in the art facility, they’ll see the exterior walls of those historic homes.”

The school will be embarking on a fund-raising campaign to pay for the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Michael Dilworth

Finalizing the redesign of Riverdale Park East playground

Although the green space around the Don Valley can seem unlimited, the space landscape architects DTAH has had to work with was pretty tight.
The plan for the revitalization of Riverdale Park East’s north-east quadrant off Broadview, just south of the Danforth, called for an artificial ice rink, a playground that would provide physical activity for kids aged nine to 12 and a pleasure skating trail, all squeezed into a space bordered by the outdoor Riverdale Pool, an off-leash dog park and a steep slope.
Rather than dropping some of the proposed programming, DTAH came up with an elevated spine with the rink as a hub for activities. The elevation itself would provide some of the challenge for the kids would be going to the park for—hiking uphill for a long slide down. Raising the elevation of the playground also makes it more visible.
“One of the challenges was the piecemeal objects in the site,” says Bryce Miranda, a principal at DTAH. “The landscape spine will unify many of the elements.” Following a public survey this month, DTAH is coming up with a detailed design that can be put out for tender for construction this fall, hopefully with a summer 2016 completion.
Providing better accessibility was also a priority. Right now access is down steep stairs at Broadview and Montcrest Boulevard. Improving the roadway to the pool was one possibility. Instead, they decided to create a new entrance opposite Tennis Crescent, which is also at a TTC stop. Miranda says the additional entrance will improve the feeling of safety. “The more entrances to the park, the better.”
The fence around the pool is non-negotiable, but a buffer of trees along its west side, facing the new playground spine, should make it less forboding.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Bryce Miranda

Landscape architects to discuss master plan for Toronto's ravines

Toronto's ravines take up 10 times the amount of acreage of Manhattan's entire park system. And given that Manhattan and Toronto have roughly the same daytime population - about 3 million — we have a lot of grass to frolic in.

But the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority doesn't think we're taking full advantage of this aspect of the urban ecosystem.

"We have all these wonderful ravines running through our city and a lot of people don't know they're there," says Steven Heuchert, the TRCA's senior manager of planning and development.

Though he thinks the city's done "a pretty good job" of keeping the system reasonably natural, Heuchert thinks the next step is incorporation the ravines into the city, and the city into the ravines.

"For example, a lot of entrances to these ravines are nothing more than a little pathway put there to accommodate some sort of infrastructure," he says. "There may be a pipe there and maintenance people need to get in to work on the pipe, but we don't make these things generally accessible to the public."

Heuchert gave a talk on Oct. 9, hosted by the TRCA, on his thoughts about where the ravines have come from, and where they ought to be going to. It was part of a series of talks in the Ravine Portal exhibition that will be continued tomorrow night by the landscape architects of the Lower Don Master Plan, which Heuchert says puts into practice on a relatively small scale the ideas he thinks should be extended to the entire ravine system.

"The Lower Don Master Plan and the work that Evergreen is doing to try to connect their site into the city a little better are good examples of what I was speaking to in my presentation," Heuchert says, "looking at design solutions to make people recognize that the ravines are there, getting them in in a co-ordinated fashion."

Tomorrow's talk, titled "Possible Futures," will include Seana Irvine, Chief Operating Officer of Evergreen, with Bryce Miranda and Brent Raymond, landscape architects and partners at DTAH.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steven Heuchert

Tiny Home an alternative to the tiny condo

When we think of the future of Toronto housing, we often think in terms of cities that got big before we did, and those of which we follow. So, like New York, Paris, Moscow, we’ll slowly evolve into a place where only the very rich own single family dwellings, and the rest of us will live in apartments and condos of various levels of spaciousness and luxury.

Anthony Moscar would like to offer another option.

“Our current housing system presents an environmental, affordability, and economic growth threat,” Moscar says. “Rising income inequality, soaring housing costs and the shortage of new affordable housing have all resulted in an affordability crisis for many low- and middle-income households.”

The kind of house Moscar, a naturopath, is building now, for himself as well as to present the concept to the public, will be 11 metres long and between 2.5 and 3.7 metres wide, and costs between $20,000 and $60,000 to build, either yourself, or having builders do it for you. (Land sold separately.)

But Moscar isn’t just concerned with the price barrier.

“The greater Toronto area housing system is failing to meet the region’s needs,” he says. "Trends in land use have encouraged inefficient sprawling development and energy-inefficient construction that is ecologically unsustainable and costly for municipalities, landlords and residents alike.”

So his building materials include Vicwest metal for the roof, which maintains heat in the winter stays cool in the summer, and is 100 per cent recyclable; naturally occurring, organic insulation called ROXUL, Marmoleum flooring is made from 97 per cent recycled material, 72 per cent of which is renewable, as is itself 100 per cent biodegradable.

How does it look?

“To keep costs low,” Moscar says, “it was designed as simplistic as possible. The fewer bends and edges, the less construction costs and potential challenges.”

The result: It looks a little bit like a trailer. So much so, in fact, that the city has had trouble giving him all the permits he needs, given the fact that it's illegal to live in a vehicle (it's got wheels) in this city.

But Moscar is confident he'll be able to figure it all out.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Anthony Moscar

Senior nuns' residence wins international design award

The Sisters of St. Joseph, who once ran much of the Catholic school system in Toronto, are a dwindling breed, but they've decided to dwindle in style, and the commission they gave to Shim-Sutcliffe Architects to build a home cum hospital for the older nuns in need of care has just won the World Architecture News Healthcare Award.

The project included a renovation of their existing residence, built in the 1850s on the Don Valley, and an addition in the form of a private hospital for 58 nuns along side it.

As the jury described it, “Forming a sinuous line between the Don Valley to the north and the low rise urban fabric of the city to the south, the Residence for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto articulates both individual contemplative life and the community engagement of the Sisters ministries, making relationships to Nature and City to reinforce public and private aspects.”

The new structure includes geothermal heating, green roofs, solar panels and a storm water management system.

The project was completed in April, 2013. Shim-Sutcliffe is one of Toronto's most awarded firms, with 12 Governor General's Medals since its formation in 1994, and is best known for Integral House (2009), Weathering Steel House (2001), and Laneway House (1993).

Writer: Bert Archer

Iconic strip club Jilly's sold to mid-rise developer Streetcar

We may have to concede the whole stripper thing to Montreal.

After yesterday morning's announcement that Jillys will be closing, and that Streetcar Developments will be doing something new and exciting with the old Broadview Hotel, there's really no point in going on.

The hotel was originally built as an office building in 1893 by Archibald Dingman, who struck oil in Turner Valley, just south of Calgary, kicking off Alberta's first oil boom on May 14, 1914. (The second, and current, boom started in 1948 at Leduc.) Dingman later owned a piece of the Scarboro Electric Railway.

Les Mallins, the man who bought the building, is president of Streetcar Developments, the first developer to fully invest in the city's mid-rise condo market. He's not been a run-of-the-mill developer thus far – he started out on his own, for one, renovating a house into apartments and leveraging up from there – and so when he says he wants to return the building to its previous splendour, he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

"Significant investments will be required to repair the structural issues," Mallins says, "and that's just the damages we can see. We're excited to be owners of this landmark real estate and are committed to restoring the building to a place that everyone in the area is proud of."

Oddly, he's also saying the old Broadview will not be turned into condos.

The building's long been seen as an east-end equivalent to the Drake and the Gladstone, so though Mallins isn't saying, that's one possibility. Streetcar's been doing pretty well recently, too, so he could also be turning it back into offices, headquarters from his already Riverside-based company.

But don't expect anything quick. The National Post is reporting that the sale was hastened by the savvy tenants at Jillys, who just took down a couple of load-bearing walls, putting the building's structural integrity in harm's immediate way.

They'll be evicted, according to a statement from Streetcar, along with the residents. The Gladstone and Drake also had residents when they closed, with the Gladstone acquitting itself especially well in the way they handled their relocation.

According to Mallins, "We've been working closely with the operators throughout the process and will work with the people staying there to support in the transition to ensure it's done with respect and care."

Streetcar will close on the property in 30 days, and has given Jillys 60 days to vacate. No word on whether they're looking for new digs. I hear Montreal real estate's still pretty cheap.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Les Mallins

Toronto Jail to be replaced by a park

The official handover was Dec. 31, they got the keys on Jan. 6, and if you go down to Broadview and Gerard today, you may see the windows coming off. It’s the end of the road for the Toronto Jail.

According to Shawna Curtis, a spokeswoman for Bridgepoint, the medical operation that runs the nearby hospital and has already occupied the old Don Jail building, the place should be gone by April, May at the latest.

In its place? A park.

"It will be knocked down and made into green space," Curtis says of the red brick building built in 1958 as an addition to its more famous predecessor, "with Blue Rodeo Way between that little piece of land and the old Don Jail."

Blue Rodeo Way, named for the band with strong Riverdale connections (their studio is nearby, and lead Jim Cuddy is a longtime Riverdalian) will link up with Jack Layton Way and Bridgepoint Drive.

The old Don Jail next door, which shut down in 1977 and was scheduled for demolition after it was deemed too dank and cold to be used for anything else, is now home to the offices of, among other Bridgepoint corporate employees, Shawna Curtis. Apparently, it’s a fine place to work.

"They've really paid a lot of attention to the inside o the building," she says. "It's an incredibly workable building."

Landscaping of the old Toronto Jail site is expected to start in May. PCL is in charge of the demolition.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Shawna Curtis

New 13,000 square foot LCBO opens on the Danforth

The Danforth now has double the LCBO selection they used to with the opening of a new 13,000 square foot store at 200 Danforth.

According to the LCBO’s Heather MacGregor, the store replaces a smaller one at 138 Danforth, which was itself a temporary replacement for the longstanding location at number 213.

The new store has 1,900 wines, spirits and other drinks, in addition to 500 products in the Vintages section.

"The store’s product mix is the result of market research, matching products and services to local tastes and demographics, and community interests," MacGregor said in a statement. "The product selection also includes a wide range of Greek wines, spirits and beers."

New and expanded LCBO locations, according to former LCBO spokesman Chris Layton, are reflective of changing neighbourhood demographics, implying that this part of the Danforth is on an economic upswing.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Heather MacGregor

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

New east end road named for Jack Layton

Some might have expected the man to get a highway at least, given the high Jack Layton went out on, but according to Councillor Paula Fletcher, whose ward was part of Layton’s riding, Jack Layton Way is far more appropriate.

In addition to being an avid cyclist (and not an especially outspoken advocate for highways), "He was a very big community person," Fletcher says. "He always had time for difficult little community problems and he was very much connected to his neighbourhood. Even when he was occupied with big national issues, I could always call him up and he’d always have time for me and the area."

The naming ceremony on Sunday, which took place on the 400-metre-long road near the old Don Jail and the new Bridgepoint Hospital, included a lion dance, acknowledging the Chinatown that was so big a part of Layton’s professional and personal life.

Jack Layton Way will not be the only thing named for the late politician, who died of cancer in 2011. "This is our community’s tribute to Jack Layton," Fletcher says. "This is the community where he was elected as a metro councillor, a city councilllor and an MP. There is the ferry terminal named for him, which the City of Toronto named after him. The mayor, councillor O’Connell and Olivia Chow spent a lot of time looking [for] something that was a large piece of city infrastructure that would be appropriate."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Paula Fletcher
Photos: Paula Fletcher

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

Project Neutral launches second annual household survey

Project Neutral launched the second year of its household survey last week, and while the organization is still concentrating on two neighbourhoods—Riverdale and The Junction—it is opening the survey up to everyone in the city.

From now until November 25, Project Neutral is asking anyone who owns their home, including those with tenants, to fill out a questionnaire to determine their carbon footprint. It takes about 20 minutes, but in an improvement over last year's, the questionnaire allows you to log on and off, permitting you to do it in stages.

"Last  year, we were entirely volunteer-based," says the project's co-founder and managing director, urban planner Karen Nasmith. "It was a pretty massive effort, but we got feedback on the survey that it needed to be more user-friendly."

Though the focus is still on the original two neighbourhoods, with various prizes available to those who fill out the form, Nasmith hopes that more people from outside wards 13 and 30 will contribute data this year. Last  year, the project received 120 completed questionnaires.

Project Neutral's ultimate goal, after establishing a baseline of household data for the city, is to assist in making the city's neighbourhoods as close to carbon neutral as possible.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Karen Nasmith

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

Green Toronto Awards nominations now open

Nominations opened this week for the 2012 Green Toronto Awards, though the most interesting category from the 2011 edition has been dropped.

Last year, the awards expanded to include a green homes category, aimed at individuals who had done something remarkable to or with their own homes.

"It wasn't our strongest category," says Jessica Chow, co-ordinator for the city-sponsored awards. "We don’t know why. We noticed a lot of them were, 'Oh, I recycle in my home.' It wasn't really what we were after."

So this year, it's been folded into the more general green design category, where individual homes will now compete with eco clothing, green roofs and other design innovations.

Nominations can be submitted here until midnight on Feb. 6. Winners will be announced in March.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jessica Chow

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

Extra work on Pottery Road delays re-opening to Nov. 30

Fans of Pottery Road are going to have to wait a little bit longer.

The reconstruction of the popular alternative route was originally scheduled to re-open after Labour Day weekend, but in late August, the team realized the work they'd done might have destabilized the inclined earth around the road.

"We're going to put in something referred to as soil nails," says Maurizio Barbon, the city's manager of design and construction, "long rods driven into the slope above the detaining wall, and then covering it with concrete and putting in some fill as well, to treat the slope as one large unit."

Barbon says the project was substantially completed on its original deadline. This week, they're finishing off a bit the re-pavement of the bottom end of the road near Bayview.

Barbon estimates the road will now re-open on Nov. 30.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Maurizio Barbon

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

1930s-era Roxy Theatre reopens with a new purpose after major restoration and preservation

Though it's been open for more than a year, the final touches have now finally been finalized and a plaques going up on the old Roxy Theatre.

Originally known as the Allenby, this 1935 theatre is now an Esso station and a Tim Horton's after years of desuetude.

"It's very exciting," says Councillor Paula Fletcher, who's ward it's in. "Michael McClelland at ERA Architects is who they hired… to restore the façade. It looks beautiful, better than it has in 60 years."

Fletcher suggests that the reason so much work went into the restoration is that Imperial Oil needed several variances, which the councillor implies she was able to use as tools in her negotiations with them. And according to her, they ended up going all out. "Even the ticket booth has been restored," she says, adding that the interior has also been decorated with pictures of the old interior, which was demolished.

A plaque outlining the building's history and paid for by ERA, will be unveiled next month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Paula Fletcher

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

Emily's House, a new Philip Aziz hospice, gets $500,000 Trillium grant to renovate 1888 building

Toronto is well on its way to getting a new hospice for children that will allow their families to live right alongside them as long as they like.
The Philip Aziz Centre is building the $7.5 million Emily's House at Gerard and Broadview in front of the old Don Jail, part of which will be housed in the old jail governor's mansion.

The result of six years of working with the city and Bridgepoint Health, physical work began on the site in July.

The hospice has been named in honour of the capital campaign's first donor, Emily Yeskoo, a 16-year-old girl with a terminal illness who gave $100. The Centre has also received a $500,000 Trillium grant, as well as an anonymous donation of $2 million, and is currently about 75 per cent of the way to its goal.

Emily's House will have room for 10 hospice beds, in addition to the family facilities. It will be run free of charge.

"There are two buildings," says Rauni Salminen, executive director of the Philip Aziz Centre, "one is the mansion, which will become the children's home, with an addition of 6,000 square feet, and the smaller building, right on the street, will be the administrative offices for the current hospice. We've been providing support in their own homes."

The Philip Aziz Centre was founded with a bequest to the Church in the City by Mr. Aziz, an artist and art teacher, who died of AIDS in 1991.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rauni Salminen

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

Pottery Road closed from May 24 until September 5 for large-scale improvements

Pottery Road's been closed for the first time in at least 50 years, and probably the first time ever, for a total reconstruction.

The popular collector route, which usually carries an average of 18,000 vehicles a day, was closed a week ago Tuesday while contractor Nu Road Construction begins work on a complete overhaul, including replacing water mains, building curbs and a wide sidewalk to give pedestrians and cyclists, according to Gord Macmillan, the city's director of design and construction, "a bigger part of the road allowance.

"It's a high-traffic area for cyclists and pedestrians. That's another reason for the complete road closure."

The road will be closed until Labour Day, which Macmillan calls a hard deadline.

"If necessary, there will be work late into the days and weekend work will be required to make sure the contractor stays on schedule."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gord Macmillan

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected].

20 Riverdale-Danforth Articles | Page: | Show All
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