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With no heritage status, Hotel Waverly likely to be lost

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 9, 2014

toronto hotel waverlyThe Hotel Waverly on Spadina Ave. could be denied heritage protection because it doesn't fit provincial historic building criteria, according to a new report by the city planning division. The property, which includes the neighbouring Silver Dollar, is the subject of a development proposal that could see both structures demolished to make way for a high-rise student residence.

In March, on the advice of city staff, the Toronto Preservation Board voted to protect only the Silver Dollar because the Hotel Waverly did not meet provincial guidelines. Then-councillor Adam Vaughan asked staff to re-visit the decision, but a report to be presented this month reaffirms the city's position.

"Councillor Vaughan asked us to reconsider the potential for 'associative value,' which staff did, and staff maintained their position that the building does not qualify under any of the criteria," says Sherry Pedersen from Heritage Preservation Services. "Age is not enough for a building to qualify."

Dusty and timeworn, the Waverly--sometimes "Waverley"--is one of Toronto's oldest continuously operating hotels. It opened in 1900 offering "pleasant, homelike accommodation," but since the 1960s the three storey, wood-framed building has developed a reputation as a flophouse, offering cheap, long-term stays to its residents.

Canadian poet Milton Acorn lived there and the novel Killshot by Elmore Leonard mentions the hotel.

The Wynn Group, the owners of the building and a chain of fitness centres, plan to build a 20-storey student residence on the site and relocate the Silver Dollar to the new ground floor. The proposal is currently the subject of an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Two weeks ago, the OMB approved a controversial student building on nearby College Street.

What do you think of the decision?

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

Image: Michelangelo Manalang/blogTO Flickr pool.



Leigh / July 9, 2014 at 08:52 am
Smart move on the student is a prime University-based location. My as well put the spot to good use for the international students coming here.
Elsa / July 9, 2014 at 08:52 am
Spike replying to a comment from Elsa / July 9, 2014 at 09:23 am
You first. The fact that a poet/writer lived and worked there doesn't make anybody give a shit to keep the waverley Hotel alive? Not even with a commemorative plaque?
zoner / July 9, 2014 at 09:25 am
EL / July 9, 2014 at 09:36 am
CZ should definitely be kept as part of the new structure. It can be a great attraction for the students. Party in the basement and stagger upstairs to the comfort of your own res!
Elsa replying to a comment from Spike / July 9, 2014 at 09:53 am
No it doesn't - He lived there for a few years and I'm sure he stayed other hotels in his travels as well should we save everywhere he stayed? I'm all for a plaque on the site to acknowledge the historic value. But I don't think we should hold back city progress because a poet from PEI stayed there.
r / July 9, 2014 at 10:12 am
this place is a whole not a heritage building
Sims replying to a comment from r / July 9, 2014 at 10:28 am
But Bob Dylan barfed there? Does that mean nothing anymore?
BH / July 9, 2014 at 10:49 am
Hear that sound? That'd be the tears of a thousand bedbugs upon hearing the news. The silence you hear is the average Torontonian when told about it.
Alexander replying to a comment from Spike / July 9, 2014 at 11:08 am
Nope...tear it down...nobody, but you, cares.
Random Reader / July 9, 2014 at 11:12 am
While I appreciate the Silver Dollar and Comfort Zone below for being the Toronto musical institutions they are, the Hotel Waverly is shit. Too bad they can't compromise on tearing that down while keeping the venues intact.
AF / July 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm
What happens to all the people staying in the "low rent, long term" rooms when they turn this into another overpriced dwelling? Where do they go? The number of charming old buildings, low rent apartments, shelters, and other places being torn down for another expensive condo is starting to make me wonder. Are they trying to push all the poor people out of Toronto? Are they going to leave any of these places intact, or are we just going to turn into one big high-rise multiplex city? In this case, a student dorm isn't the worst idea, but why not build it over something with less history... the nearby 7-11 maybe?
neilson / July 9, 2014 at 02:26 pm
let's collectively wave goodbye to this feculent dump. we'll always have that k-os video to remind us just how terrible this heap was.
Clam Chowder / July 9, 2014 at 03:36 pm
There's no such thing as a low priced dwelling, especially in Downtown Toronto. Don't be stupid, it's just an infested hotel that allows scummy people to rent rooms as if they were apartments. It'll be nice to have it replaced by CHEAP STUDENT HOUSING, instead of having diseased prostitutes hanging out on the streets it fronts.
annemac / July 9, 2014 at 07:48 pm
Whatever happened to Toronto's determination to keep its heritage buildings? About 10 years ago, my daughter, in NY, was quoted in the New York Times about Toronto's insistence on keeping the facades, if not the buildings behind. Her mother (me) supported Eric Arthur in the preservation of St. Lawrence Hall.

U of T is becoming incredibly greedy. First, appropriation of the frat houses, the magnificent structures along St. George. Second: the back campus turned into astroturf. Now, appropriating land beyond its purview to build residences.

Where on earth can Murdoch Mysteries find locations, given this current climate?

en / July 9, 2014 at 08:37 pm
one more nail in the yuppiefication of downtown toronto
Spike replying to a comment from annemac / July 9, 2014 at 08:39 pm
A lot of these students could live in public housing (built by a new agency separate from TCHC), and in places like North York and Scarborough (people don't always have to live downtown) but nobody wants that, so all that we can do is destroy great old historical buildings, I guess.

@AF; it seems to me that we're getting a real-world version of the Sanctuary Districts, but only a couple of years early: (
S / July 9, 2014 at 10:52 pm
When you finish taking a dump, you flush the toilet, you don't say "Hey, lets go to City Hall and apply for Heritage status". The exact same thing applies here. I'm all for protecting special parts of the city, but this is the polar opposite of that. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the neighbourhood who doesn't even feel safe near that corner, and no amount of residence by a poet no one cares about should outweigh that.
baconhampalace / July 10, 2014 at 11:56 am
'Student accommodation'is a generous way of describing essentially a dormitory in which the dorm rooms are freely owned by tenants. When it's new, it'll function as student residences, but 10 years down the line it'll be an SRO hotel. Let's not forget that the Wynn brothers were named the worst landlords in Parkdale at one point. They're slum lords, plain and simple.
Graham Rowlands / July 15, 2014 at 01:30 pm
Some things you just have to let go of. This is DEFINITELY one of them.
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