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Toronto neighbourhood upset over potential demolition of historic building for condos

A more than 130-year-old building that has long served as a landmark along a main thoroughfare in Parkdale is, like many historic buildings in downtown Toronto, currently up for redevelopment — and locals are, quite understandably, not happy about the prospect of seeing it turned into condos.

The High Victorian Italianate-style stretch between 1354-1360 Queen West was known for housing DIY haven Designer Fabrics for more than six decades, before which it had various uses, including a grocer in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a liquor store, a men's clothing store, a furniture store and a winery.

The staple fabric store that residents will remember as the most recent iteration of the building shuttered for good in August 2018, leaving many wondering — and dreading — what might end up taking its place. 

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A conceptual rendering of the building proposed to replace the old site of Designer Fabrics in Parkdale. Image by Giannone Petricone Associates Inc.

Rampant gentrification and development is inevitable in any city, especially one as fast-growing and in desperate need of housing as Toronto, but it can be argued that T.O. has a bit of a problem with expanding outwards geographically, instead preferring to expand upwards in the downtown core and lose many of our existing structures in the process.

Even for designated heritage sites, much of the time only an exterior wall or two need to be preserved for historic value, leaving very little of the buildings' previous lives and thus the past of the city.

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Rendering of the proposed complex by Giannone Petricone Associates Inc.

For this building in particular, the community is putting together a petition (not yet live) to prevent it from being fully demolished, which is the plan that developer KingSett currently has in mind.

It has proposed a nine-storey mixed use building for the site, along with 8-14 Brock Street in behind, once it is completely razed.

The stretch of Queen is currently listed as a "Potential Contributing Property" in the Parkdale Main Street Heritage Conservation District, though it is not an officially designated heritage structure as of yet.

Renderings from November 2020 show the developer's intent to incorporate at least some of the existing exterior — from where Designer Fabrics was, specically — into the modern-looking, angular condo design that will be juxtaposed above, beside and behind it.

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Some Parkdale residents are nervous to see a developer take over the site of what has long been Designer Fabrics, as conceptualized in this image by Giannone Petricone Associates Inc.

The Parkdale Village Historical Society/Sunnyside Historical Society and various citizens are behind the push to save the block from demolition, with members of the Parkdale Community Updates Facebook group recently debating the matter in the comments of a post by local Adam Wynne, who is spearheading the formal petition.

Sentiments on the topic range from "these developers are destroying our neighborhood" to "it's devastating to me that we can lose a beautiful building like this," with the consensus seeming to be that it should be salvaged and preserved.

Lead photo by

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