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Can public square proposal save Postal Station K?

Posted by Chris Bateman / October 26, 2012

Postal Station K TorontoEglinton-Lawrence councillor Karen Stintz hopes making the area in front of the historic Postal Station "K" building at Yonge and Eglinton a public square will reassure the local community that the art-deco icon will remain safe for the future.

The motion, seconded by councillor John Parker and set to be considered at council next week, would give the facade of the building on the west side of Yonge new protection in the event it is redeveloped for condos, as rumored.

"What it does is provide some assurances to the community that that space in front of the building will be protected as open space," Stintz said this morning. "At the point the building is sold, if it is sold, we will then take the steps to designate it as a heritage building and work with any new owner to make sure that space is protected."

Stintz says she isn't necessarily against condos for the site providing they "fit with the community" and are "consistent with what the zoning is and consistent with neighbourhood."

toronto postal station kLocal MPP Mike Colle, however, has been vocal in his opposition to the project, holding a series of public meetings on the subject. A final, last ditch meeting is planned for next Tuesday at the Anne Johnston Health Station amid "strong rumors" a sale has been arranged in principal.

According to Colle's press release, Canada Post has avoided all local community events on the subject. A recent petition against the sale attracted thousands of signatures.

Postal Station "K" stands on the former site of Montgomery's Tavern, the site of a key battle in the suppressed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. It was here that a group of armed militants angry at British rule made a desperate last stand against loyalist soldiers. Since then, the land had been home to a hotel, a masonic lodge, and council offices.

The current building arrived in 1936. Among its many unique design features is the rare royal cypher EVIIIR, short for Edward VIII Rex, inscribed above the door. Edward VIII was king of Canada for less than a year and few buildings bear his crest.

Do you think Postal Station "K" can be saved as is? What would you like to see done with the site? Do you think the negative sentiment surrounding the project might put developers off?

Photos (in order) from the Toronto Archives and Wikimedia Commons.

Discussion

30 Comments

gall / October 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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In a word, No.

Money talks.
Alexander / October 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm
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I've lived at Yonge/Eg for 12 years and never thought "wow, it would be a real shame if the postal station were replaced"...tear it down, building something new...
JJ replying to a comment from Alexander / October 26, 2012 at 01:01 pm
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Yes, tear it down. And replace it with yet another glass and steel cookie cutter condo devoid of any character. Go Toronto! Keep it bland!
Stan Darsh / October 26, 2012 at 01:16 pm
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i enjoy the old building, it is one of the last old historic buildings in the neighborhood, dont tear it down!
chuck / October 26, 2012 at 01:31 pm
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Save Postal Station K! Our last public space at Yonge and Eglinton!!!
Skeet McRib / October 26, 2012 at 01:38 pm
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What's with the Satanic figures at the entrance? This building needs to be torn down immediately. No wonder this neighborhood is so full of sin. Shame on any of you trying to protect this shrine to Satan.
Rob replying to a comment from Skeet McRib / October 26, 2012 at 01:40 pm
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9/10
Alex / October 26, 2012 at 01:56 pm
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It's a nice building, but I've never gone inside it. If whatever will replace it is good use of the land them I'm fine with it. Preserving the facade would be nice. They could call them the "Rebellious Lofts" or something.
GetReal replying to a comment from Skeet McRib / October 26, 2012 at 02:14 pm
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Bat shit crazy, you are.
EricM / October 26, 2012 at 02:23 pm
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Mike Colle MPP deserves some good credit on this particular issue and all politics aside. This issue (and inserting politics) and beating/saving us from having to hear Rocco Rossi actually make me like the guy quite a bit.
David / October 26, 2012 at 04:24 pm
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Don't tear down Postal Station K. Please leave us something of beauty in this neighbourhood.
tommy / October 26, 2012 at 04:44 pm
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Wouldn't trust what Stintz says on this. She was responsible for the loss of the square right at the Yonge/Eglinton intersection. Eventually it is going to be boxed in, just like this sliver of land in front of the postal station will be if we don't fight.

And what is our consolation for these lost public spaces? A blocked off Orchard View Blvd in the summer, with tables and chairs that are stacked/locked up at 8pm. What garbage.
Alex replying to a comment from tommy / October 26, 2012 at 04:52 pm
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What? What's happening to the square?
BrendaG / October 26, 2012 at 05:28 pm
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Didn't we go through a period like this in the post-war period when we tore down all sorts beautiful historical buildings (and parked their victorian, beaux arts and gothic revival carcasses on the lawn of the Guild in) in the name of short sighted urban-planning?

Lets rename our current period "Developer Brutalism".
Gul Jassad / October 26, 2012 at 05:41 pm
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Condo, condo, condo. That's all our city cares about these days.

I truly wish for there to be a bubble burst on this whole condo building frenzy, so that we can get back to the normal-sized apartments we used to have.
McRib replying to a comment from Alexander / October 26, 2012 at 05:46 pm
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then you lack a soul.
yeah replying to a comment from JJ / October 26, 2012 at 05:47 pm
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I swear posts like these are just automated from robots or something. Doesn't every single blogTO post have this same comment? Or likely, just about every article about Toronto on the internet.
Mark Bee / October 26, 2012 at 06:48 pm
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Its too bad, but that building is going to be demolished.
Randal / October 26, 2012 at 07:17 pm
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Its unfortunate that they are going to turn this site into condos. I remember learning about the rebellion in high-school and walking by the square on my way to my part time job. How often do you get to walk by, see, sit at and recognize a place that played a historic role like this square. Hopefully some semblance of its current form will remain for future generations to be able to connect with. The US and its collection of battlefields is a legacy, can we try to preserve a 30x100 meter patch of our history?
C. / October 26, 2012 at 07:50 pm
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Toronto is bush league. That's why nobody flocks here for our architecture.

Go to Chicago and see the stunning buildings they've preserved and return here to see green sh*itbox condos. And Chicago even does new condo projects better than here.

Surprised Casa Loma hasnt' seen a wrecking ball so it can become a parking lot/Tim Hortons...
Adam Sobolak replying to a comment from Alexander / October 26, 2012 at 08:32 pm
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There's a reason why you don't find myopic sorts like "Alexander" on heritage committees. (Though maybe like Rob Ford viz. Susan Crean, the Alexanders of the world might see it as a reason to abolish heritage committees.)
Cubs Fan replying to a comment from C. / October 26, 2012 at 08:36 pm
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True. It's strange we have a Mayor that idolizes Chicago so much, yet this is still the direction we go...
iSkyscraper / October 26, 2012 at 09:28 pm
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I'm a native of this area and fond of this particular building, but I'm also a realist. Toronto is a poor city, in terms of public funding, and it has no real preservation laws to speak of. If this was New York, the building would be landmarked by the LPC and that would be the end of it. But Toronto is not New York, and there is no use tilting at windmills.

The best solution can be found in Radio City down on the Jarvis Memorial Freeway, where the old CBC/Havergal building was nicely preserved while a sleek condo popped up behind and around it. Brilliantly designed, much lauded.

Look at the satellite maps for Station K -- there is plenty of room for a tall condo on the postal parking lot and rear of the building while preserving the historically interesting front section. There is no point trying to preserve the use, and I don't see a condo lobby as any worse than retail -- probably better (look what Chapters and then Future Shop did to lovely old Parkwood motors, visible in the lead photo). The Y-E center is a freaking brutalist eyesore which a tower here would go a long way towards hiding. And it's Yonge St, close to one of the city's major (and few) interchanges. This really is a good location for a high-end condo, one that can afford to restore (the current windows are not original, and hideous) and incorporate the postal hall out front.

Seriously, go look at Radio City. That is the best way forward here.
Chuck replying to a comment from EricM / October 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm
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Mike Colle is a great guy. He's always doing interesting things. He did that gas and dash thing a couple months back, I think.
mrgrieves / October 27, 2012 at 08:59 am
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hopefully they can save this thing. would be a shame to lose a decent looking building in the city, and more importantly the little public space that exists in midtown TO.
Dominion replying to a comment from Skeet McRib / October 27, 2012 at 02:52 pm
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Hi, they are not "satanic figures" - one is the Lion of England holding the maple leaf shield of Canada. The other figure is the Unicorn of Scotland holding the Fleur-de-lys shield of Royal France.
Adam Sobolak replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / October 27, 2012 at 04:59 pm
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"If this was New York, the building would be landmarked by the LPC and that would be the end of it. But Toronto is not New York, and there is no use tilting at windmills."

Though I'd have to offer that it isn't completely "typical Toronto" myopia at play here: as a Federal property, unfortunately, it cannot be municipally designated under provincial law (though it can be listed). Yeah, it's an unfortunate loophole; but, so it is. Indeed, in the event that the Feds unload it without obstructive "conditions", I can definitely see the City (esp. now, w/the outcry) jumping ASAP to have the place designated--no doubt w/the support of Councillor Stintz. So, aside from the ambiguity of *how* things might actually be done (y'know, the condo-podium scaremongering, etc), I'm not as concerned as some.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Adam Sobolak / October 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm
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Yes, but isn't designation in Toronto toothless? In New York it has real meaning; that is what I was getting at.
Adam Sobolak / October 29, 2012 at 07:39 am
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But in this particular spot example, the "toothlessness" is something of an artifice from up above. IOW before screaming at Toronto, you'd have to scream at the Feds--and this isn't the first time that a "heritage-quality" federal property has hit a wall simply because it's a federal property, and therefore off limits to municipal authorities.

Now, *once* the Feds offload it, *then* is the time to scream--happily enough, neighbourhood groups and Stintz are already doing some preemptive screaming...
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