April 24, 2014

Two tall towers could land on Art Shoppe site

49 & 37 storeys considered for crowded Yonge and Eglinton area

Residents’ association member Michael Visser is open to condos on Midtown site

Residents’ association member Michael Visser is open to condos on Midtown site

The Art Shoppe, the iconic furniture retailer that occupies the entire east block of Yonge Street between Soudan Avenue and Hillsdale Avenue, remains open despite being sold in 2011, but the buildings that may end up replacing it are causing a stir before any formal applications have even been submitted.

According to councillor Josh Matlow, Freed Developments, who purchased the Art Shoppe in 2011, approached him with their plan for a pair of condo towers with which they’d like to replace the Art Shoppe.

“The numbers that have been tossed around that our planning staff are aware of are 49 and 37 [storeys], two adjacent buildings,” said Matlow. Though he added that Freed discussed no official numbers when meeting with the residents, he said, “I told [developer Peter Freed] that tall buildings on that site are out of the question.”

The site is officially a neighbourhood designation and is adjacent to streets containing two-storey, single-family homes. Just north of the site are the Minto Midtown condominiums, the highest looming at 54 storeys.

“We live in Davisville Village, and I emphasize the word village.”

Nearby resident Jane Auster expressed concerns about the height. “I think the developer is going to try to use the Mintos as precedent for his development,” she said. “We live in Davisville Village and I emphasize the word village.” Matlow clarified that, though they are in close proximity to one another, the Minto towers lie adjacent to an “apartment” neighbourhood.

Some residents would be open to high-rise development. “Obviously, given that it’s close to a major intersection, those aren’t insanely unreasonable heights,” said Oriole Park Residents Association member Michael Visser. “But I’d like to see something a little smaller.”

He remains cautiously optimistic that Freed and the city will find a compromise. “It’ll be interesting to see what Freed does. This is the first time he is going to have to deal with working in a more established neighbourhood with more restrictions,” Visser said.

A representative from Freed Developments declined an interview.