irish embassy 49 yonge

Beloved Toronto pub to be redeveloped into a sky-scraping condo tower

It's just a sign of the times in Toronto to see well-known businesses replaced by towering condominium projects, and it looks like one of the next downtown skyscrapers in the development pipeline will replace a longtime Yonge Street establishment.

An application was submitted with city planners on Wednesday, proposing some pretty substantial changes that would transform the northeast corner of Yonge and Wellington, where two heritage buildings currently stand.

The two buildings on-site include a former Bank of British North America building at 49 Yonge St., completed in 1873, and the 1847-built Commercial Travellers Association Building at 51 Yonge St.

The former is currently home to the popular pub The Irish Embassy, a lively fixture at this intersection for the last two decades, until temporarily closing its doors at the onset of lockdowns in early 2020.

A representative of the Irish Embassy confirms to blogTO that the establishment remains closed for now, the owners intending to re-open in the new year as the office towers in the vicinity fill back up.

As for coming changes to the site of the pub, the representative tells us, "Developments are always part of a growing city and our landlords have always been very supportive of us. "

"We will see how things work out as developments can take years to plan. At some stage, we may have to relocate to another prime downtown location but it may not be for a while yet."

Details of the redevelopment are still scant early on, as it typically takes a few weeks for renderings and other project details to filter through the city's overburdened planning department.

But here's what we know so far.

Developers have filed a rezoning application that would permit a 60-storey tower to rise from the site. A corresponding application for condominium approval confirms that these will be more of the condos that Toronto loves oh, so much.

The tower would include 258 of these condominium units, though there would also be 1,701 square metres of non-residential (likely retail or restaurant) space assumed to be at the tower's base.

And while this redevelopment spells the end or at least relocation of the Irish Embassy in the not-too-distant future, heritage lovers need not freak out. The 19th-century landmarks that exist today would be preserved in some form, thanks to the heritage protections in place.

The former bank that houses the pub is designated Under Part IV Of The Heritage Act, while the building at 51 Yonge St. is listed on the city's Heritage Register. So while only a select few know what the tower will look like at this stage, the tower base will (at the very least) include facade retentions that keep the existing heritage character alive.

Of course, facadism, or facadectomy, is not always a popular solution, reducing a building's worth to its exterior appearance.

With heritage buildings in the crosshairs and condos in the mix, this one has the potential to generate controversy on a few levels.

Lead photo by

Google Street View

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