Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] Changes at Yonge and Bloor

The neighbourhood of Yonge and Bloor isn't a neighbourhood so much as it is an interface, sandwiched between Yorkville to the northwest and Rosedale to the north and Church and Wellesley to the south, located at the heart of the city's transportation networks. Office towers belonging to the Bay and the CIBC fill the two northern corners of this intersection. If a Kazakhstani condo developer has its expected way--which it will, all the permits have been properly made--another tower will be appearing on the southeastern corner of this intersection.

Bazis International of Concord is scheduled to construct a 79-storey complex at the site and intends to start demolition in December. And so recently it sent out lease-termination notices. That's when reality set in.

"To have to move from here is a very big loss for me," said 75-year-old Jack Tcherkezian, the owner of HyArt Gallery, a photo-frame operation he has run for 15 years in Roy's Square, a quaint, 18-foot-wide laneway that runs south from Bloor and then circles west toward Yonge. "It's a very big project they're planning. When it's finished, there's going to be a lot more waste, garbage, congestion, traffic, people and cars."

Across the laneway, Percy More, manager of Ritz Caribbean Food, is perturbed at the idea of having to move.

"We're very upset and our customers are upset because we don't want to leave," Mr. More said. "They are running us out just like that."

The project will cost close to $500-million and will include 450 condos, a 120-room, five-star boutique hotel and a number of retailers. Although no names for the hotel and retailers have been finalized, Bazis has decided on the price range for its condos: $300,000 for a one-bedroom unit to over $2-million for a full-floor penthouse of close to 10,000 square feet.

Some modifications are being made to architect Roy Varacalli's original exterior design, but the size and height remain intact.

"The project goes to marketing in October," Mr. Varacalli said. That's when Bazis will find out how the public will respond to its condo sales pitch.

The development will run east along Bloor and one full block south to Hayden Street, the location of the Naval Club, another casualty of the project.

[. . .]

Veronika Belovich, Bazis's director sales and marketing, said: "We're trying to make the city better. This is a junky corner and we want to make it a fabulous area."

The "junky" comment is an unfair slam at a pleasant area of low-rise shops, in my opinion. (I'll miss particularly the Indian restaurant Biryani House and City Optical, where I bought my most recent pairs of glasses.) Still, the kind of money needed to build a 77-story tower brings with it its own privileges, and the architectural designs do look interesting.
Tags: neighbourhoods, urban note
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