toronto hotel waverly

With no heritage status, Hotel Waverly likely to be lost

The 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.


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