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Major intersection that never was gets a second chance

 Superior Avenue was meant to be a big deal.

Look at the street, tucked away in Mimico, a Valu-Mart on one corner, a hardware store on another. But notice how wide it is: 100 feet, about double the streets that cross Lakeshore on either side of it.

"It was meant to be a major thoroughfare," says Graham Chalmers, who's taken a recent interest in the area and its history, "but it never happened."

Chalmers is co-owner and partner in Davies Smith Developments, which is building an 11-storey condo at 11 Superior, designed by RAW architects.

His interest is serendipitous, stemming from the city's encouragement of his firm on how to spend the Section 37 money from other nearby condos they'd been approved for. The city suggested overhauling Amos Waites Park (named for Mimico's longest serving mayor) behind and beside Birds and Beans Café.

"We were asked to do that as a bit of a revitalization," he says, "so the way it went, we bought a couple of derelict buildings that were adjacent to the park, that blocked the park from Lakeshore Boulevard, demolished them for the city, transferred it back to the city and built Mimico Square. When we began doing that work, I wasn't overly thrilled with the neighourhood, but when I went back to look at the park, I realized the lakeshore is gorgeous, it's right there, it's so close. I felt that once I read about the history of Mimico and specifically Superior Avenue, it was intended to be somewhat of a major thoroughfare and a connection to the lake."

A city study had previously targeted the intersection as a spot that could use more density—it's pretty open and bleak at the moment, with two wide streets meeting and nothing higher than three storeys anywhere in sight—so after talking to Councillor Mark Grimes and establishing there was the political will to develop, they bought the property. They demolished two buildings which had been built in the 1920s and had once been retail, but were vacant for about a decade. The company broke ground last week.

The building was originally going to be 14 storeys, but neighbourhood consultation reduced it to 11, allowing 120 units— meaning a couple hundred more people to encourage this strip of Lakeshore—and a rooftop party area with a 180-degree view of the lake. There will also be retail at street level when the building's complete by about January 2014.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Graham Chalmers

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 bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

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