Nearly 100-year-old church hits the market
Midtown site listed for $2.85 million receives multiple offers
Glebe Presbyterian has served north Toronto since 1912
Like most pieces of north Toronto real estate ripe for redevelopment, a Belsize Drive church has attracted a lot of interest after being put on the market with an asking price of $2.85 million in July. Glebe Presbyterian Church, which has been a part of the community since 1912, is planning to amalgamate with the nearby Leaside Presbyterian Church in 2013, Rev. Bill Elliott said. Faced with slowly declining attendance and resources spread more thinly, the move was identified as the best way forward, he explained.
“We decided that we should take some kind of positive action to build on what we’ve been and what we’ve done over the decades… and to do that before we simply faded away altogether and were just forced to close,” Elliott said.
Listing agent Stephen Ho said the church was marketed to prospective buyers who would either use the existing building or redevelop the 13,000-square-foot site within the existing planning permissions, but Ho received offers from a range of bidders. He didn’t expect that proposals from prospective buyers interested in redeveloping the site outside of existing planning permissions would be viewed as favourably.
“Equally important is finding a buyer who will respect the legacy of the church.”
“The price is obviously important, but equally important is finding a buyer who will respect the legacy of the church and the legacy of the neighbourhood,” Ho said.
The site is designated “neighbourhoods” within the City of Toronto’s official plan, which restricts development to low-rise residential and complementary uses. The zoning would only allow for up to three storeys.
Speaking from personal experience, condo developer Brad Lamb predicted that any proposal to build beyond what’s permitted in the official plan would not succeed at the Ontario Municipal Board.
With offers due Aug. 9, the church is now reviewing proposals made by prospective buyers. The next step is for the church to go back to its committee to narrow down the list to preferred buyers.