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Sherbourne condo proposal threatens heritage property

Posted by Robyn Urback / October 16, 2012

toronto sherbourne developmentSherbourne Street, apparently, is where all the action is. Recently speaking, at least. Beyond the new separated bike lanes, the brand spankin' new park, the massive project proposed for its south end, and a speckling of new condos, the street hosted quite an engineering feat a couple years back. That (albeit, quite slow-moving spectacle) involved moving the historic 800-ton James Cooper Mansion 100 feet closer to the street to make way for a new Tridel Tower.

And now, developers are hoping for a repeat performance. The City of Toronto has received a proposal to build a 52-storey residential tower at Sherbourne and Selby streets, a project that will require the relocation of another heritage property. That property is currently operating as the Clarion Hotel & Suites, though the structure itself touts a history dating back to 1882 when it was a private family home.

The "Goodherm Mansion," as it's officially known, will be moved closer to Sherbourne Street if developers Cityzen, Fernbrook, and Diamondcorp win their project's approval.

toronto sherbourne proposalThe proposed tower will include 499 residential units (including five townhouses) and is currently portrayed in renderings as boasting a shade reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper's hair circa 1983. Located pretty much beside the James Cooper Mansion 32-storey tower, Big Red at 592 Sherbourne will have 20 floors on its neighbour (and six levels of below-grade parking), effectively blocking the spectacular Rosedale view north-facing James Cooper Mansion tenants have previously enjoyed. Shucks, eh?

But that's not the only impact of this proposed new property to consider. Sherbourne is one of those Toronto streets that is denser at its north and south ends, and a new condo here doesn't exactly attempt to close the rift. Sherbourne north of Wellesley is ripe with condo development (including another proposal for a 42-storey tower at 395-403 Bloor Street East), as is Sherbourne south of Queen with its healthy mix of retail and residential. But in between are a lot of halfway houses and low-rise rentals with menacing bed bug reports. And with this latest proposal, it seems Sherbourne's centre will only continue to sag as development concentrates at the street's ends.

It's also worth considering the value we ascribe to so-called heritage properties when we lift them up and shove them over to make way for shiny new towers. Now, I wouldn't call myself an historical romanticist in the least (though I think I did just achieve a new level of douchiness by using the phrase "historical romanticist"), but I do think it looks sort of tacky to attach a towering glass structure to a 100-year-old mansion and call it urban preservation. Just imagine a block full of siamese historical juxtapositions!

In any case, if the proposal for 592 Sherbourne goes through, we'll have two side-by-side at the very minimum, with rows of Sherbourne heritage properties just waiting for their own tall glass compadres.

Now, where can I get a lipstick in that colour?

toronto sherbourne condo



Todd Toronto / October 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm
Needs more orange.
Sean / October 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm
If developers have their way, all heritage buildings in this city will be destroyed. All existing neighbourhoods gone. All privately-owned businesses will be replaced by the same american-owned cookie cutter ones. Look around!!!
johnsonstarfish / October 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm
This city is fantastic at tearing down great, old architecture to build crappy modern puke for buildings. I'm already planning my move out.
To / October 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm
When's it going to stop!?!?!? This city is getting out of hand. How about a f*cking park!?
TO replying to a comment from Sean / October 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Not all developers are bad. See: Distillery District.
Marc Lostracco / October 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Inflammatory headline, considering that the development proposes to save the whole structure rather than the usual practice of leaving only a single wall up and destroying the rest.

As for next door, people need to stop being surprised when they buy a condo and find out that they don't actually own the view.

As for the alarmist threat of impending slumtowns south of Wellesley, where would you suggest a developer put a development? The Phoenix? Allan Gardens? Moss Park? Should one of the low-income apartment buildings make way for a condo? Does a developer have a "responsibility" to look in a crappier area to build their multimillion-dollar condo investment? Is building around heritage properties okay all of a sudden if it's in that location?

Like I said…alarmist article.
cobyrne / October 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm
I live in the area and have friends who live in the Tridel tower. The mansion out front looks great. I do like the Clarion Suite's building but I see no problem moving it closer to the street. This is pretty much a best case scenario for the area IMO. Those who complain are doing so on general change-allergic principle.
Ian replying to a comment from Marc Lostracco / October 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm
I'd also add that the criteria for a building to be designated as "Heritage" in Toronto is pretty lax. Let's be honest, who here was aware that the heritage building was even called the Gooderham Mansion?

@johnsonstarfish "Great, old architecture" Just because it's "old", doesn't mean that it's great. Get over it.
shakey shakey / October 16, 2012 at 01:05 pm
Hey remember that woman whose house in the Sherbourne hood was getting all damaged by Tridel's construction? Cracked foundation, walls, etc.

Whatever happened with that?
Big Fuckin Mega Boat replying to a comment from To / October 16, 2012 at 01:10 pm
You're free to buy land and make parks for the community if you choose. Parks are nice, I get that, but do you just expect a developer who paid tens of millions of dollars for a site, to simply build a park out of the goodness of their own hearts?
Colin / October 16, 2012 at 01:17 pm
I don't understand the criticism. They are keeping and restoring the historic building and at the same time replacing, the ultimate street life killer, a parking lot. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Like Marc said ....alarmist article
Khristopher / October 16, 2012 at 01:56 pm
What an awful article!

Threatens heritage property? You didn't say anything in the article about the property being threatened. You even point out that it will simply be moved. They won't be tearing it down. It will be well taken care of for years to come, and most likely restored to a better state than it currently is.
Angie / October 16, 2012 at 02:45 pm
I live in the so-called "rift" area, across the street from Allan Gardens in a heritage home. I hope no developer attempts to close this "rift area". I love living in an area with no tall towers and lots of big beautiful trees!
askl;gn / October 16, 2012 at 02:47 pm
You people are so f#@king critical it actually infuriates me. move to guelph if you want low density heritage buildings in the downtown core. Or, here's a better idea. Why dont YOU buy the property, and build a nice big park!!!! go f&#k yourselves. It's a beautiful design.
rbt / October 16, 2012 at 02:55 pm
Ridiculous article. The heritage property is in no way shape or form "threatened" it is being salvaged, restored, and repurposed. This is an example of good development in Toronto.

You want an example of bad? String of buildings on the south side of Liberty Street just west of Strachan. Puke.
Joe / October 16, 2012 at 03:39 pm
Considering how close this property is to the subway, is it any big surprise that a condo is proposed? It's set back from the street, the historic house stays, and it's not grey for once. I personally don't mind this thing.
Ace McNugget / October 16, 2012 at 04:09 pm
Don't see any problem with this.
Sean / October 16, 2012 at 04:35 pm
Looks fine to me, but those renderings seem kind of half assed.
Joe D / October 16, 2012 at 05:18 pm
It seems great to me. It looks good and adds some colour to the skyline harkening back to the burnt orange colour of early Toronto brick. Vibrant colours are what this cities buildings are lacking! can't wait to see it built!
F'K the sun / October 16, 2012 at 07:02 pm
Yeah! More tall buildings! Block out the sun for ever!
Bubba / October 16, 2012 at 08:11 pm
wow looks like some developer vomited and is now trying to sell it as condos!
Chris / October 16, 2012 at 08:13 pm
Great design from a great Chicago firm - definitely contributing something to the city's building stock rather than leaching off of it. The James Cooper Mansion building was in infinitely worse shape before being restored by Tridel, and while the integration isn't ideal it is award winning and the state of heritage in the area is likely better off for it. There are plenty of beautiful heritage buildings in the area crumbling due to neglect - so much so that most people don't even recognize them for what they are (or were).

More importantly, I'd love to see some retail in the base of this building - for all of the development attention that the area is getting there is a severe lack of commercial amenities. Public amenities abound (one block north of rebuilt library, community centre, one block south from subway). With the newly installed North-South bike system there are few reasons for this not to be a well-used area, however I live on Sherbourne and can attest that animated street life is lacking. I believe that projects like this can be the shot in the arm an area needs to fill itself out a little.
Jonathan / October 16, 2012 at 09:03 pm
So where are all these people with no money around Dundas and Jarvis going to go after the whole area has been bulldozed for more $2 million condos!? Where are all these ultra rich people coming from, and if there's a certain character that attracts them to downtown, it's going to be gone once every rental downtown requires a $2000 deposit plus outrageous rental costs. There is nothing left for those who are just getting by downtown - push them to some area where nobody has to see them? If they're working a low wage job, then they'll need a car, which they can't afford, or a bus pass, which is another $100+ a month. It's great that so many people enjoy downtown. It's not great that the arrogance of the affluent - 'just get these disgusting street people out of here and build my tower' has worked. Clearly they have no problem showing up and kicking out long-term residents who've held onto the last of the low-rent units downtown. Obviously money gets you what you want, but it's interesting that nobody has ever done a story showing the anxiety of those without the affluence wondering where they're going to go - in a city with very few choices for that rental bracket - once their notice arrives to get out.
Oscar for best troll goes to.... replying to a comment from Jonathan / October 16, 2012 at 09:35 pm
Aaron / October 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm
Why not move all remaining heritage homes to one central location and call it Ye Olde Heritage VillageTowne? They do look rather ridiculous with 40-storey towers sprouting out of their back yards.
seanm / October 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm
I've walked by the James Cooper Mansion development, and you don't really notice the tower as sprouting out of it. Typically your eye pays attention to the street level, the human scaled aspect, and the heritage restoration does a good job at maintaining the character of the street; the tower sort of fades into the background.

I'm a big advocate of proper heritage preservation, and simply saving a facade doesn't cut it. This is the fifth largest city in North America though, so we've got to accept that its downtown will be intensified significantly. Look at Manhattan, or downtown Chicago. Price-wise it sucks, but it's a reality and condos are here to stay. As people get priced out of downtown they have to move, but so do their communities, and the cycle of breathing new life into old neighbourhoods continues.
Gul Jassad replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / October 17, 2012 at 02:35 am
Where do you plan to go, may I ask?
namehijacked / October 17, 2012 at 07:49 am
Really? Another 50 storey tower for that block?

Before the cheering gallery gets itself too worked up, let's consider this: Sherbourne is now permanently a SINGLE lane of traffic in each direction. (For now.)
What is planned for the 3 blocks from Wellesley north?

Wellesley/Sherbourne: 38 storey tower, 300+ units
555/565 Sherbourne: 43 storey tower sandwiched between 3 towers that have existed for 35 years.
This 52 storey project.
5 towers between Howard and Bloor, the shortest of which is 43 storeys, I believe.
That's roughly 3,500-4,000 units, or 8,000 or so people jammed along a corridor that is already the densest in Canada.
Show me where Manhattan or Paris (your favorite Toronto's-gotta-be-like cities)has allowed that many towers along a single lane road. Show me!

Kiss good bye your precious bicycle lane!
seanm replying to a comment from namehijacked / October 17, 2012 at 06:31 pm
Try checking out East 21st Street through Manhattan, or one of the many similar blocks in that part of the city. Often one way single lane streets with a bike lane lined with 5 to 25 storey towers packed far more densely than Sherbourne. Sure this particular tower is 50, but most of the street is still old homes and scattered midrises.

Point is, even where the towers aren't as tall, many one or two lane streets in other cities are packed with very high densities and manage to function.

As mentioned by someone earlier, this condo is a stone's throw from the Bloor-Danforth subway line, which makes it a prime site for intensification.
Kim / October 2, 2015 at 07:16 pm
I'll agree that this is a terrible article. It's so frustrating to read articles on development written by people who clearly no nothing about it, and who haven't bothered to do any research. There are so many examples of "façadism" in Toronto, in which a historical property's façade (literally, only a brick wall) is preserved but nothing else. The James Cooper Mansion development took great pains to preserve the house even though it had to be moved; the result is a beautiful restoration. This project promises the same.

The comment about Sherbourne being undeveloped in the middle serves no purpose. The author seems to be complaining about high-rise development - as it is so popular to do these days - and then lamenting lack of development, without really suggesting any solution. Please: if you have no insight to share, then leave the writing to someone else.
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