Toronto just protected 225 buildings from redevelopment along a prominent street
A large stretch of a bustling Toronto neighbourhood was just given a new defence against development, the City's Preservation Board adopting a plan for 225 buildings to be added to Toronto's Heritage Register and protected from hasty demolitions.
A late May report to City Council recommended that this extensive collection of buildings on and around Danforth Avenue, deemed to have "cultural heritage value" be included on the Register, effectively blocking condo developers from descending on the area unless they carefully and expensively build around what exists.
The recommendations were adopted on Tuesday, giving the busiest stretch of The Danforth a layer of protection against demolitions.
The city stated that "the properties are good examples of the Main Street Commercial Row, Main Street Commercial Block, Bank, Place of Worship and Theatre typologies that support the historic context of the Danforth Avenue study area," and that all 225 buildings meet the provincial criteria for heritage listing.
The 225 properties are situated on stretches from 742 to 753 Broadview Avenue and 114 to 1575 Danforth Avenue, a roughly three-kilometre strip extending from Broadview in the west to Coxwell in the east.
Most of these buildings were constructed between 1910 and 1929 and contribute to a unique streetscape of narrow storefronts with recessed entrances, with landmark buildings like theatres, banks, and places of worship mixed in along the way.
While it seems pretty reasonable to want this urban fabric preserved, it is being interpreted by some on social media as a move to discourage development in a city facing a critical housing shortage.
The effect will be to lock the storefronts in place, making condo redevelopment difficult, while keeping targets in those apartment buildings. Maybe that wasn’t the intent but it’s happening. pic.twitter.com/W40VNxBbR0— Alex Bozikovic (@alexbozikovic) June 14, 2022
The City report recommending the mass heritage listing says that the move "extends interim protection from demolition and provides an opportunity for City Council to determine whether the property warrants conservation through designation under the Ontario Heritage Act should a development or demolition application be submitted."
Too many plain, uninteresting buildings getting heritage designation to block redevelopment into something useful.— S (@sharinglung5) June 14, 2022
Heritage listing may be a roadblock for developers, but it's far from a dealbreaker.
Development applications can still be proposed for listed properties, though they require the commissioning of a heritage impact assessment, which the city then examines to ensure that heritage attributes are adequately preserved or their demolition can be justified.
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