Avenue Road property subject of conflict
Iconic heritage location in danger of demolition
The circular windows of York Square may soon be no more
York Square at 33 Avenue Rd. is currently caught in a battle over local heritage. A rezoning proposal from Empire Communities could see the site demolished with a 38-storey mixed-use tower in its place.
A report from Mary MacDonald, acting manager for the City of Toronto, Heritage Preservation Services, says York Square, known for its iconic round windows, should be protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The decision to allow the report to reach Toronto City Council was deferred until the April 8 meeting in order to “allow the owner to better understand the contents of the designation,” according to an email from MacDonald.
Aside from the circular windows that make it recognizable, York Square is also home to a private high school, a hair salon and the well-known Italian restaurant Il Posto.
“The open square at its heart continues to provide an urban oasis with trees and plantings a few steps from these busy commercial thoroughfares,” said MacDonald.
David Lieberman, professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Toronto, asks whether it’s possible to build fresh and still retain some of the unique artifacts from Yorkville’s hippie heyday.
“Adaptive reuse is meant to circumvent the debate over preserving old buildings verses tearing them down,” said Lieberman. “It’s largely defined modern cosmopolitan Toronto.”
As the rezoning application and heritage designation processes continue, there is no way to tell if York Square will become yet another building overrun by the city that is growing around it at a rapid rate.
“Does one use the legislation of heritage designation to stop things in their tracks? Or is there a way to build something new and still have this fabric of the older city?” asked Lieberman.