699 yonge street toronto

Popular Toronto strip club could be replaced by a huge condo tower

A strip club that has been a mainstay of Toronto's Yonge Street since the 1950s, and a holdover of its long-gone neon-lit adult entertainment scene, is the latest venerable local landmark targeted for redevelopment.

Development plans were recently filed for a site, including The Brass Rail, outlining a proposal to level half of the block extending south from Yonge and Hayden streets and construct an enormous 64-storey condominium tower.

The project from developer Concord is planned for an assembly of five properties that would spell the end of the current strip club at 699-701 Yonge.

699 yonge street toronto

The Brass Rail photographed in 2018. Photo by Dan Arsenault.

Other properties in the mix are a building at 703-705 Yonge containing an H-Mart grocery store, 707 Yonge and 1-7 Hayden, home to a Pizzaiolo location and other businesses, and a two-storey Victorian home-turned-business at 17 Hayden. An additional included property at 8 Charles Street East is currently occupied by parking.

Plans call for the demolition of the whole lot, though the primary west facade of the existing Brass Rail is planned to be retained and incorporated into the base of the new tower.

The Victorian storefront at 17 Hayden may not be as lucky, as a heritage investigation deemed that removal of an existing cementitious exterior coating would likely cause significant damage, and there are no current plans to salvage the facade.

This mostly-blank-slate approach may cause problems, as all properties on the proposal site were added to the City's Heritage Register in 2016, and are situated within the under-appeal Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District designed to preserve the (remaining) heritage character in this rapidly-evolving part of the city.

In place of the current buildings, the developer intends to construct a condo tower designed by architects Dialog, rising 216.5 metres into the ever-changing Bloor-Yorkville skyline.

699 yonge street toronto

The tower features a randomized pattern of projecting balconies that intensify as it rises. Rendering by Dialog.

Aside from 414 square metres of retail space at the base of the tower, almost all of the project's proposed 35,545 square-metre floor area is dedicated to residential space. This almost 99 per cent share of floor area is set to include 514 condominium units, planned in a mix of 131 studios, 237 one-bedrooms, 96 two-bedrooms, and 50 three-bedroom units.

Positioned just steps from Bloor-Yonge station and two TTC subway lines, the project takes advantage of a growing trend since the City eliminated mandatory parking minimums, including just 64 parking spots. Residents will instead be expected to make use of the nearby subway station and 517 bicycle spaces for shorter commutes.

Rumours of the site's redevelopment have been swirling for a few years now. The Globe and Mail reported in 2021 that the relic of Yonge's long-sanitized Sin Strip was on the chopping block, surprising few as the surrounding blocks continue to transform with new development.

The application was received by City planning staff at the end of March and was circulated to city divisions for feedback in late April. Patrons of the strip club need not worry in the short term, as these applications often take months to years before the affected businesses are shuttered.

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