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The Silver Dollar & Hotel Waverly could be demolished

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 7, 2013

toronto hotel waverlyThe 113-year-old Hotel Waverly, the faded historic building at College and Spadina, could be knocked down along with the Silver Dollar music venue to make way for new student accomodation under plans by The Wynn Group, a Toronto-based rental group and building developer.

If the project gets the green light, the Silver Dollar will get an all-new venue on the ground floor of the 20-storey building. The haggard and insalubrious hotel that dates back to 1900 wouldn't come back.

As currently proposed, the 14,676 square-metre, 20-storey tower would include 202 rental units targeted specifically at students and 1,622 sq. m. of retail space at ground level. The 2nd floor will host a "boutique" version of a Wynn Group fitness studio.

toronto waverly hotel"It's a wooden structure so we have a lot of issues," says Paul Wynn from the Wynn Group of the Hotel Waverly. "We would rebuild the Silver Dollar, that's our intention, and build student housing above it."

"Instead of having the steps going up as you have now it would just be one main level. The same room basically, of course improvements: better equipment, a higher ceiling and it will be all open instead of a break as it is now."

The at-grade retail level will also be home to a small juice bar branded with the fitness studio.

The Wynn Group has owned the Hotel Waverly - previously spelled Waverley - since 1985. Wynn says the company has been talking about building something on the site for "1,000 years at least." He settled on the idea of student apartments when his daughter struggled to find a place to live while studying at the University of Toronto.

The current specifications call for 70 below-grade vehicle parking bays and 202 bike spots. Five ring and post spots will be provided outside the new Silver Dollar and gym. A loading bay and access to parking will be built off Douglas Campbell Lane behind the current hotel.

toronto waverly hotelThe kindest thing you could say about the Hotel Waverly is that it has a strong reputation. A former resident reached out to blogTO in November alleging regular disputes over rent and other charges, issues related to hygiene, and various other safety concerns. The claims were never verified.

The building at 484 Spadina opened in 1900 offering "pleasant, homelike accommodation" and is one of the city's oldest continually operating hotels. Canadian poet Milton Acorn lived there for many years and it's rumoured Martin Luther King's assassin James Earl Ray stayed there while on the run from cops in America, though he claimed in 1993 he had never heard of the place.

In popular culture, the historic building has provided a backdrop in the movie Killshot and a couple of music videos.

Wynn expects it to be at least two to three years before anything happens. "If I had a magic ball, I'd tell you," he says. "We'll take our time on it and see what happens."

What do you think of the designs? Do you think the Hotel Waverly building should be saved and incorporated into the tower or has it been neglected for too long?

MORE IMAGES:

toronto waverly hotelPlan of the proposed 70-metre tower.

toronto waverly hotelThe view down Spadina from the north.

toronto waverly hotelThe view northeast from College west of Spadina.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: The Wynn Group/Kirkor Architects and Planners, Peter Grevstad/blogTO Flickr pool.

Discussion

76 Comments

AV / June 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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FINALLY, what that corner needs, A condo development. Perfect.

Anyone else get the sense that there's an all out assault happening on/around Kennsington? Just wondering..
milo / June 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm
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while i think the city does have a lot of condos ... Silver Dollar & Hotel Waverly are far from historic landmarks.

asgasfa replying to a comment from AV / June 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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I agree. That corner does need some revitalization.
Todd / June 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm
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Serious question.

Is it illegal to keep anything from Toronto's past?

Sure feels like it.
Anon / June 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm
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Todd, the Waverly is hardly worth keeping.
Jonah / June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm
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I like the design, but there's no way that a major 113-year old building should be demolished for it. Saving the building, restoring it, and creatively incorporating greater density onto the site would be much better for the city and would create much more value for Wynn, financially and in terms of reputation.
Rick / June 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm
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And the "Condofication" of Toronto continues....

You know, what if Condo's were priced at what they should cost, had better layouts, were constructed better with quality materials, and not have such an aura of douche-baggery surrounding them, I wouldn't really give 2 shits about them going up all over the place.

But unfortunately they are all cheap, shite workmanship, and are retardedly priced for the area in which you are to live in. And what really boils my balls is that the realtors and developers are selling these places like the are nothing but a gold mine for the investor... what an f-ing farce!!!!!

Andrew / June 7, 2013 at 01:06 pm
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Maybe I'm missing something but the article seems to be saying that the building will consist of rental units--not condos.

Given that vacancy rates in the area are at 1.7 percent (http://bit.ly/15Hyn06), this isn't such a bad idea.

Also, I don't see how increasing rental accommodations in the area constitutes an assault on Kensington Market.
Robert replying to a comment from Rick / June 7, 2013 at 01:15 pm
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Kinda like all those tract homes built around the GTA.
realc / June 7, 2013 at 01:18 pm
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Why wouldn't they keep waverly facade as the podium??? The current design has an ugly nonfunctional street level. why do condos hate designing proper street levels?!
James / June 7, 2013 at 01:20 pm
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Most of the commenters didn't even bother to read the article. This isn't a condo development. This is student rental housing.
Rick replying to a comment from Robert / June 7, 2013 at 01:21 pm
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Although to an extent you are correct, you missed the point totally. We're talking condo's not detached homes in the GTA. And who builds "Tract" homes anymore??

I like condo's to a certain extent, it's the disgusting way they are marketed which in my view should be a crime.
Steven / June 7, 2013 at 01:22 pm
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Why doesn't Toronto build the highest - largest condo ever, something crazy like 500 stories, then stop bulldozing established buildings/businesses/homes just to build one more small, cheap, glass tower.

Make the new super tall condo make the CN tower look like a hydro pole.
AV replying to a comment from James / June 7, 2013 at 01:30 pm
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If you honestly believe they'll stick to their "student housing" line when sales open up (which they will) I've got a bridge to sell you (@ a great price no less).
Sadie / June 7, 2013 at 01:40 pm
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I think this is a great idea. Student housing is definitely something that's hard to come by. A lot of the "cheap" apartments are taken up by downtown dwellers, leaving a very difficult search for students coming to U of T and OCAD. There's tons of condos going up everywhere, but I could only name you a handful of my friends who could afford to rent a condo unit.

The design is nice enough. It isn't a huge, towering condo that's infiltrating on Kensington Market (technically speaking it's not even IN Kensington Market).

Hotel Waverly, even as it's been there for years and years, is by no means a Toronto "landmark," and that corner could do with some revitalization and clean up. How many of you can say you ever even stepped foot in that place? It's not a nice building - what would be the point to save it and build up on it?

Cities change and evolve - it's called urbanization. While I'll admit it's sad to see the historic Silver Dollar take a hit, that place could definitely use an upgrade. Sure, it's charming in an old jazzy rocker sort of way, but the facilities are crap - it's dingy and musty... And truth be told, it looks like a health hazard.

All in all, I think this is a good idea - and a long time coming for that dingy corner.
Sadie / June 7, 2013 at 01:43 pm
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Furthermore, a point I think a lot of you had missed prior to commenting, the company that is building this development already owns the building, and has since 1985.. They have every right to do with it what they please.

Just saying.
EricM / June 7, 2013 at 01:46 pm
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It looks like there is a ton of pressure on the area at this point, from Loblaws to Walmart and now this. Loblaws and Walmart are epically bad ideas in my mind that compromise the integrity and unique nature of the neighbourhood. The Hotel Waverly however is an irredeemable shit hole. Sometimes (and I'm huge on heritage preservation typically) it doesn't mater the age of a building. It's just time for it to go. If it does become rentals, than all the better.
Sadie replying to a comment from EricM / June 7, 2013 at 01:56 pm
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Well said, sir.
Spell_Check replying to a comment from Rick / June 7, 2013 at 02:23 pm
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Rick, why do you keep putting an apostrophe in the word "condos"?
Sarah / June 7, 2013 at 02:25 pm
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It'd be nice if they kept the Waverly name for the building. Downtown needs more apartments, especially somewhat affordable ones. Condo rentals are ridiculously expensive and often that's the only option unless you want to share a bachelor with some bedbugs.
silver dollar / June 7, 2013 at 02:28 pm
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The Waverly may not be worth saving, but THE SILVER DOLLAR sure as hell is.
jimbo jones / June 7, 2013 at 02:34 pm
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What about Comofort Zone, oh lord, the comfort Zone. I like seeing people partying for 24+ hours standing outside looking like disco zombies...
pat / June 7, 2013 at 02:37 pm
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I don't know how much i can really say on this, but I will anyway..

I am by no means against urbanizing, and development.. it's necessary for our city to grow. However, bit by bit, these developments are taking away the authenticity of the city. It would be super cool if they could somehow retrofit these buildings, and renovate them into student housing.. I know they mentioned difficulties with the existing wooden frame, but it would be pretty awesome nonetheless.

Also, there are no guarantees that these living spaces will even be affordable.. the term "student housing" doesn't promise much in terms of cost.
Samsmith / June 7, 2013 at 02:37 pm
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Prostitutes (The ones that hang on college/ Jarvis.) use the Waverly to service customers I hear.
Bruce McCallum / June 7, 2013 at 02:39 pm
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Where's Barry gonna live? He's well into his late 70's if not older, been living there for at least three decades...they better take care of him.
Liposuction / June 7, 2013 at 02:42 pm
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No more Comfort Zone! Bout time
Greg / June 7, 2013 at 02:46 pm
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I think this could be another 10 storeys higher, and students will only be an asset to Kensington Market. That the developer is incorporating a night club into the project has to be a first in the city. I'm all for some re-gentrification of this area.
Sriskandakumar OMalley / June 7, 2013 at 02:52 pm
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About time. Between the Walmart on Bathurst and now this, the neighbourhood's definitely turning into the kind of place that's worth coming down from Richmond Hill for!

Can't wait to see this type of exciting urban renewal come to Kensi - I'm hoping for a Bed Bath and Beyond where that silly hippy park is now. I LOVE this world-class city!
VadimM / June 7, 2013 at 03:06 pm
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I think it is a positive move. Perhaps the design of the building needs to be updated. Otherwise that corner and, in fact the stretch of Spadina down to Dundas is in need of either repair or a partial redevelopment. Together with the today's announcement of 1 Spadina building and grounds redesign - it is indeed a good start of refreshing the tired and somewhat dirty part of central Toronto.
Jen / June 7, 2013 at 03:24 pm
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The Wynn Group are slumlords. They own some notoriously shady apartment buildings in this city.

They are not condo developers, they're shitbags.
Rob R. / June 7, 2013 at 03:29 pm
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The Blue Oyster Club is being demolished?!
Sean / June 7, 2013 at 03:48 pm
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How utterly bland looking, you'd think they could come up with something more classical that at least fits with the general style of the area.
Chris / June 7, 2013 at 03:51 pm
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Silver Dollar is one of the city's great music venues.

Good thing they're keeping it.

No one will be wistful about the Hotel Waverly - a hooker flop house basically.

Amazingly, there are Trip Advisor reviews. Who in hell would stay there, let alone write about it?
Ryan / June 7, 2013 at 04:11 pm
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What about CZ?!
Christopher King / June 7, 2013 at 04:11 pm
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Councillor Vaughan will support this, as it gets rid of the Comfort Zone and the Waverly
nope / June 7, 2013 at 04:16 pm
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it's nice that their plans call for a 'new' silver dollar. and yet, i don't believe them. call me a pessimist if you must, but i just don't think they'll be able to recreate the vibe of one of the city's great working-band venues when it's sharing space with a student res, juice bar, and property management offices.
bjws / June 7, 2013 at 04:25 pm
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I kind of love the irony of complaining over a computer and the internet about tearing down to build new. How many gadgets have you thrown in the garbage over the years so you can justify your iPhone5 or iPad3? I get that it's different, but it's not that much different. Humans like progress and unfortunately for some of you people who seem to think this is a building worth keeping, this is the cost of that progress.
Ali / June 7, 2013 at 04:28 pm
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Wynn is one of Toronto's most notoriously awful landlords. the own and operate some of Toronto's most poorly run low maintenance buildings and have zero respect for tenants. All they care about is making money. This is really sad.
A / June 7, 2013 at 04:33 pm
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what about comfort zone? building a condo next to the afterhours...stay classy toronto
Lucile Barker / June 7, 2013 at 05:12 pm
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It is way too tall and will be the thin edge of the wedge for tearing down College. They say "rental" but I doubt their intentions. I would far rather have the Silver Dollar than another badly built glass tower. Perhaps Wynn has had a reassessment and feels it's time, but in conjunction with the Walmart on Bathurst, this is a declaration of war on downtown neighbourhoods.
ROLLIN SO HARD / June 7, 2013 at 05:13 pm
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WHAT ABOUT COZO OMG
JP / June 7, 2013 at 05:22 pm
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Nobody wants to see beautiful historic buildings destroyed for condos.

But, at the same time, it's silly to assume every development in the city represents soulless developers eating away at Toronto to create condos for yuppies. That's really not the case here.

A) This is housing for students who will probably shop/drink/eat in Kensington Market and actually make the area more healthy. It's not a condo building.

B) I am all for saving heritage buildings, but sorry. Waverly Hotel is an absolute dump.

Toronto is growing rapidly. It will either grow up (condos, density) or out (urban sprawl). For the environment, city life, culture and just general livability, density is far preferable.

Some development locations are worth fighting to stop, but I really don't think this is one of them.
p / June 7, 2013 at 05:25 pm
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I love how much people complain about all the new condos and the density they bring..
you guys must really hate NYC.
oh wait...
Pete Forde replying to a comment from Samsmith / June 7, 2013 at 05:34 pm
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Hey Sam, if you were a sex worker based around Jarvis and Carlton... why the F would you go all of the way to College and Spadina to get the job done?
johnsonstarfish / June 7, 2013 at 05:58 pm
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This corner is in serious need of help, but putting up some glass condos that are going to put the corner is the same predicament in 15-20 years is not helping the situation long term. This is typical Toronto foresight, which is about making $ now, for whoever is involved, or investing in the future. We are easily one of the worst cities when it comes to planning for the future. In 10 years that cluster of CityPlace condos is going to be a slum ghetto. This city sucks.
A / June 7, 2013 at 06:08 pm
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They can't get rid of CZ!!!!!
Bruno / June 7, 2013 at 06:10 pm
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Keep comfort zone is a must!!!!!
Bill / June 7, 2013 at 06:45 pm
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noooooooooOOOOOOOOOOO not the waverly hotel. Where am I supposed to meet escorts now??
SamSmith replying to a comment from Pete Forde / June 7, 2013 at 07:12 pm
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You asked: "Hey Sam, if you were a sex worker based around Jarvis and Carlton... why the F would you go all of the way to College and Spadina to get the job done?"

Err... Why don't you ask THEM cause that's what they do. I'd guess because the rooms are CHEAP.
Heidi / June 7, 2013 at 07:44 pm
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What about COMFORT ZONE?! That's tragic!!!
Tory Kaiser / June 7, 2013 at 09:42 pm
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Some of the best Sunday mornings of my life were spent there.
AJ replying to a comment from Todd / June 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm
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The Waverly is a shithole..have you ever gone by there at night? Drunks and crackheads... knock it down.
AJ replying to a comment from Heidi / June 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm
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Save CZ? Are you kidding me?
That place is as much of a shithole as the Waverly. How many times has it been raided for drugs this year?
SuperD replying to a comment from Steven / June 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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Yep, I say go big! Make the CN tower look like a fire hydrant!
Andrew / June 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm
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Funny story; I was waiting for the streetcar at College and Spadina following a gig at the El Mocambo when I saw a guy and a girl who was wearing clothing that was inappropriately skimpy for the weather coming down Spadina.

They made their way down to the CIBC where he got some money out, at this point, it became completely obvious what he was doing, and made his way up to the Waverly.

Everyone at the streetcar stop was laughing at him. I'm betting wish he had come down about 10 minutes later.
phaedra / June 8, 2013 at 09:18 am
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Ugh... Anyone who loves the Silver Dollar knows that gone is gone.... Nothing remotely resembling the Silver Dollar would possibly exist on the ground floor of this sleek monstrosity. Yes, the corner is full of drunks and crackheads. Yes, the Waverly is a dump. When is Toronto going to realize that a city won't have any life blood if all it's grit is polished off??
Rich replying to a comment from phaedra / June 8, 2013 at 10:29 am
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"When is Toronto going to realize that a city won't have any life blood if all it's grit is polished off??"

BINGO. What happened to Queen West? Whats happening to College, The Junction, The Beaches? Scrub scrub scrub!
Graeme / June 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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While the Waverley itself is a bit of a dump. The fact is that it is a 113 year old wooden construction building. That in itself makes it worth saving. Especially in this city where apparently anything older than about 25 years old is apparently marked for death and scheduled to be turned into condos.

It is just this type of continued assault on anything interesting and "historic" that makes me really hate this city sometimes.
dimpy / June 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm
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What about the Comfort Zone?!?!?!?

I have many fond memories of going there bright and early sunday morning to listen to some of toronto's best house and techno.

Rental units or condos, I don't think that corner needs another faceless, towering building that is sadly lacking in character.
Jeremy / June 8, 2013 at 04:53 pm
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Jesus guys, are you even reading the article? It's rental units. Small cheap rental units for students. We REALLY need cheap student housing. The universities sure as hell aren't offering it. The design looks fine. More students in the neighborhood is good for local student oriented business. The Waverly is a dump. The silver dollar could really use a gut renovation. It's not going away.

This is seriously the best possible development for the site and the community. I'd say it could use an additional 20 stories while they are at it.

I swear some pople here seem to want to become San Francisco where no one but the very rich can afford to live comfortably or on their own. This panic is stupid.
Jeremy / June 8, 2013 at 04:53 pm
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Save your anger for the Loblaws or Walmart moving in.
hellokitty / June 8, 2013 at 05:04 pm
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1. To correct a prior post, the CZ is not next to the Waverly, it is under it. Therefore if the Waverly goes, the CZ goes.

2. An observation...all the old sketch places in Toronto are gone now... aka Film Lounge, Pulse (formerly 338), Amigos boat, etc. CZ is the last of that breed hanging on for dear life. Once CZ goes, so goes the sketch in Toronto, never to return.

3. CZ's time has passed. 10 years or more ago all the stars and moons aligned properly to make CZ happen. No longer the case. It is not tolerated politically nor is that style of partying cool anymore. The scene has grown up and is more matured.

4. However when the CZ does have their official closing party, it will be bonkers and you'll certainly want to be there.
It's not a condo... replying to a comment from AV / June 8, 2013 at 06:13 pm
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For everyone who's called this project a condo... I would like to point out it is a rental apartment building, geared towards renting to students. Wynn never mentioned at any point selling any units.

If you're complaining that it is a 20 storey tower, then say that... but then you'll have to say that you are against new apartment buildings.
John / June 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm
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I boned a hooker once at the Hotel Waverley. Picked her up at Church and Carlton and made the trip West. I'll miss that place...
Randi / June 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm
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Have no fear...if Comfort Zone closes, at least we can still buy crack in Etobicoke.
Kaitlyn / June 10, 2013 at 10:03 am
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I am curious, though, about what would happen to the Scott Mission. I can't imagine that living next to a men's shelter would be a selling point for either students or the parents who often pay their rent. Would the Mission be relocated?
alx / June 10, 2013 at 01:13 pm
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restore the waverly and incorporate it into the tower. seems like the obvious choice. however sleezy and roach infested, it's an historic building with many ghosts and people love to look at it.
7845389 / June 10, 2013 at 03:03 pm
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Nooooooo!

What about the Comfort Zone! :((((((

Sean / June 11, 2013 at 10:40 am
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I expect another "Campus Common" (that ugly structure at Church and Gerrard) with overpriced student rental housing that takes advantage of a shortage of on-campus housing and pricy accomodation elsewhere.

We're not just losing the Silver Dollar Room and CZ, but one of the few SRO-type hotels in central Toronto. The people living there will have to find other affordable accomodation (good luck!).

That all that said, I'll also echo what Jen said above. Just do a web search for the Wynn Group. They simply don't have a good record with their existing rental stock. Just ask a Wynn tenant.
sw replying to a comment from Sean / June 12, 2013 at 10:49 am
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Completely contradicted yourself...

Wynn currently owns the Waverly. People seeking affordable accommodations live in the Waverly. Now we're finding that Wynn doesn't have a good track record... So which is it? Bad? Good? Hold on to a grubby roach-infested eye-sore that makes zero money? Or add affordable student housing to a predominantly U of T area?
Sean replying to a comment from sw / June 12, 2013 at 11:23 am
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I love the hostility in anonymous web comments!

No, don't feel that that I contradicted myself. I just pointed out that lost amongst the hue and cry over the CZ and Silver Dollar that people living in the run-down Waverly will be displaced.

I also had little idea that the Wynns owned the hotel until the news of the proposed redevelopment. It doesn't change anything I said about their track record or my reservations about this project.
Marshall Shanghai Cranksman Shankrape replying to a comment from Sean / June 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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Nope.
Nick Bates replying to a comment from hellokitty / June 14, 2013 at 02:57 pm
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Sorry but there is still quite a bit of sketchy after hours besides CZ..

Footwork is one of them and Moskito just opened couple months back and is at rammed every week. Not to mention illegal afterhours around Spadina and dundas that just opened 3 weeks ago.
Sam / September 12, 2013 at 09:04 am
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Put in a condo then give $1 Million to Bixi to keep them afloat.
APPROVED. Please Proceed.

As long as Bixi gets something out of it I'm fine with demolishing it.
Donnie replying to a comment from Todd / September 12, 2013 at 09:11 am
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There is alot of Toronto Historic Past that gets preserved.
Would you like to buy the Waverly and turn it into the next Drake or Gladstone hotel?

Let's Crowd fund this everyone!!!! We can raise the money ourselves and run the hotel and bar! I make great chicken wings!!!
Simon's Mom / September 12, 2013 at 09:34 am
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Demolish Bixie.

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