Major redevelopment could be coming to Kensington Market
Recent news that a block of Toronto's Kensington Market neighbourhood was facing future redevelopment had the community up in arms, and owners downplaying any forthcoming changes to the charmingly human-scaled shopping and dining area.
Whether or not the block of Kensington Avenue from Dundas to St. Andrew will be redeveloped still remains unclear roughly a month later, but a website advertising a development concept for the site casts some doubt on the future of this busy retail stretch.
A massive chunk of Toronto's Kensington Market is now for sale at $24 million https://t.co/aKthlBrDVW #Toronto #TorontoRealEstate #RealEstate #KensingtonMarket— blogTO (@blogTO) March 30, 2023
A website produced by media production firm JY Group describes the plan as "the re-imagining of a uniquely historical piece of Toronto's downtown core" with "a mixed-use residential and retail commercial development … across two acres of premiere land located at the corner of St. Andrew St. and Dundas St. W."
Renderings of the sprawling mid-rise are accompanied by marketing speak advertising community access and seven floors of on-site amenities.
Youssef Mekhail, Managing Partner at JY Group, tells blogTO that his firm has "been tasked with the marketing plan for the development of the Kensington/St. Andrew project," confirming that, despite the owner's insistence otherwise, a plan is "currently in its early stages."
As for the renderings, Mekhail says that "we didn't intend for the public to have access and will be taking the necessary steps to remove it."
Of course, the toothpaste is obviously out of the tube by now.
Mekhail stresses that while he is unable to comment publicly on ongoing client work, "the conceptual designs were created by our in-house marketing team, and we would be able to disclose more information once the project officially launches or with the consent of the project owners."
That statement suggests that, contrary to the owner's claims, there is indeed a project, and it will be launching at some undetermined point in the future.
Joseph Wu, VP of Commercial at IQI Global — which owns the property in question — has brushed off claims that the site is in play for redevelopment, telling blogTO that reports of a land assembly for sale are long-outdated and not representative of the current situation.
Wu says that the images shared in March were pulled from a 2008 development concept that was no longer in play, but the newly-unearthed renderings appear much more recent, and likely weren't cheap to produce.
When confronted with the new renderings, Wu maintained that he was unaware of any planned redevelopment of the property, and did not provide further comment despite several attempts by blogTO for clarification.
But, despite this radio silence on future plans, the vacant property included in the alleged land assembly at 23 St. Andrew Street has been listed for sale for roughly three months at a price of $8.5 million, citing the property's "possible potential of development."
No other properties in the previously-reported land assembly are currently on the market, however, this doesn't necessarily mean that the properties aren't in play.
As of late April, no development has been proposed for this site, according to the City's development application information centre.
Any notion of redevelopment — especially one so far out of step with the surrounding neighbourhood character — could be doomed from the start, as the site falls within a city-managed Heritage Conservation District designed to safeguard Kensington's charm from out-of-character development.
It's a charm locals have made clear they will fight to protect.
News of the possible redevelopment sparked members of the community to embark on what could be generously described as an uphill battle to raise the $24 million sale price reported in that contested development concept.
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