Honest Ed’s development plan envisions 1,000 rental housing units
This Article, by Patty Winsa, was originally published on March 3, 2015 in the Toronto Star.
Proposed development for Honest Ed’s site includes rental housing, a public market and an innovation laneway with pop-up shops and startups.
More than 500 people packed a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Avenue Rd. Tuesday night for the unveiling of development plansfor the Honest Ed’s site at Bloor and Bathurst Sts.
The plan calls for 1,000 units of rental housing plus retail and restaurants spread throughout 55 buildings that range in height from 2.5 storeys to a 29-storey “micro-tower” — a term used by architect Gregory Henriquez because of the building’s small footprint — on the northeast corner of the site.
Structures will vary in height from four, six, seven and eight storeys and although they will appear as separate buildings from the street, they will be grouped together and share corridors.
Henriquez and his design team used wood blocks to create the concept “and make it appear as though it was built over time,” the architect told more than 500 Annex residents who came to hear the presentation.
More than 50 per cent of the apartments will be two-bedroom or larger and the development includes 57 live-work spaces and 35 artist studios. Fourteen of the heritage buildings on Markham St. will be preserved.
The plan also calls for a covered public market like Barcelona’s Santa Caterina market with its curved roof, or the barrel-vaulted Hay’s Galleria in London, England.
Markham St. is envisioned as a curbless road lined with restaurants. Landscape architect Janet Rosenberg said the plan was to use trees and plantings to demarcate road and sidewalk divisions.
The street could close to traffic on the weekends so that it could become a vibrant space to host Hot Doc movie nights in conjunction with the nearby Bloor Cinema.
Honest Ed’s lane, which will be built off Lennox Ave. at the south end of the site, will be home to pop-up shops, food trucks and start-ups with the help of the Centre for Social Innovation.
The plan calls for a new east-west street linking Markham and Bathurst Sts.
Developer Westbank, which was chosen by David Mirvish, has not officially made an application to the city. Henriquez stressed that the presentation was a conceptual design and a work in progress.
Former city councillor Adam Vaughan, who is now the Liberal MP for the federal riding of Trinity-Spadina, said that getting people on and off the site could be a challenge because Bathurst and Bloor Sts. are too busy to use.
But he applauded the development’s mix of retail and rental and is hopeful a similar mix will be available in rental prices so that the wait staff and other people who work there can also afford to live there.
We can’t keep building “vertical suburbs,” said Vaughan.
The plan also calls for bike storage and valet service, car sharing services and vehicle charging stations.