Development plan to replace Honest Ed’s called a ‘game-changer’

WATCH THE VIDEO: Mark McAllister explains why the proposed redevelopment of Honest Ed’s is a game changer.

TORONTO – The effort to try and re-imagine one of Toronto’s iconic intersections has taken one huge leap forward.

Honest Ed’s will be closed within a couple of years and the first concept for what could replace the iconic storefront has been revealed by a project team lead by Westbank Projects and Henriquez Partners Architects.

The proposed project would involve 1,000 rental units, ranging from two to four bedrooms. The buildings are of varying heights but include a 29-storey “micro-tower” at the corner of Bloor Street and Bathurst Street.

A glass-covered outdoor market would be one of the main attractions, along with 200,000 square feet of retail space mixed throughout.

“You need to have content to respond to in order to do something meaningful,” Gregory Henriquez, the architect of the proposal said in an interview Wednesday.

“Something from nothing comes nothing, you know. So you have those old houses on Markham Street in the Mirvish Village to respond to, which is really exciting. You have the story of the Honest Ed’s building which you have to find a way to capture the dynamism of the lights and the signage that were there once before.

Pedestrian spaces would be created, including a new ‘alley’ north from Lennox St. in keeping with the long, narrow throughway that exists today.

Markham St. to the west is currently home to a number of heritage properties and storefronts that would be preserved and enhanced by increased space for patios and a bike valet service.

“I hate to sound cliche but I think it could be a game changer for the city,” Urban Affairs writer Christopher Hume said. “This changes everything. This brings a new level of sophistication to the development industry in Toronto. It’s not just throw it up as fast as you can, sell it for as much as possible and get the hell out.”

Residents in the surrounding neighbourhoods may take awhile to fully comprehend what’s being proposed but initial reaction is favourable.

“I like the look of it,” Annex resident Claire Harris said. “I like the fact that it’s different levels and I like the greenery that’s coming in with it.”
The idea behind the design has been described as something that would honour Ed Mirvish and the village when it first became a Toronto destination decades ago.

“Moving forward it’s a matter of getting comments back from everyone [at the public meeting], hearing what everyone has to say, and developing the design and making it even better. I’m not looking to lose anything, I’m looking to add things and make it really fantastic,” Henriquez said.

Plans are expected to be submitted to the city’s planning department in the spring.

This piece, by Mark McAllister, was produced by Global News and published on March 5, 2015.

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