palace arms

Toronto neighbourhood pushes back against new condo replacing the Palace Arms

Toronto is no stranger to condo towers replacing beloved establishments or heritage buildings, but one in particular really has locals up in arms as of late: the tower set to replace the Palace Arms Hotel.

The Romanesque Revival building, recognizable by its dingy pink exterior and unique corner turret, has graced the corner of King and Strachan Streets for more than 130 years. It served at one point as a hotel and tavern, later transforming into a low-income rooming house.

Its impending redevelopment has been in the works since the property was sold in 2017 and dozens of tenants were vacated from the premises, leaving it essentially vacant.

Since that time, there has been pushback from those who think the designs put forth are not only plain hideous, but also incongruous with the structure's existing architecture and the feel of the neighbourhood at large.

"We are a group of 100+ concerned neighbours who support good development and are working to build a stronger, more inclusive and sustainable neighbourhood," a new campaign against the development states.

"The applicant/developers are fighting for a plan on the site of the Palace Arms which doesn't benefit the neighbourhood. We’re asking the City to support a better project and its citizens."

As the citizens note, the prime piece of land has been sitting vacant for years amid a housing crisis, and so they fully support the development of the preserved historical site into much-needed residential units.

But, they want it to include far more affordable rental units, and not be a part of a deal that is, as they believe it to be now, "much to the benefit of the developers at the expense of the neighbourhood."

The original application for the condo complex from Intentional Capital included only 15 affordable units, which has since been bumped to just 22. The group is asking for at least 90, the number lost when the Palace Arms was shuttered.

Issues like over-density and excessive building height are also of concern.

The application touched on these concerns with a dismissive statement that the "replacement of dwelling rooms with new dwelling rooms within a new condominium building would not result in a good living environment, as rooming houses require management with specialized experience in housing marginalized populations."

The fate of the proposed 13-storey mixed-use development at 950 King St. W., complete with 197 units, has been under review for years now, and has seen a number of changes along the way. Hopefully, for the benefit of the city and its people, it will see a few more before it comes to fruition.

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