Honest Ed’s site reimagined: Eight things to know about new development plan

Since 1948, Honest Ed’s has presided over the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets, but in 2017, the landmark store will shut its doors. What comes after the closure is not yet finalized, but the ideas are big. At an open house on Tuesday, Vancouver-based developer Westbank Projects Corp. and its architect, Gregory Henriquez, presented a plan for the 1.8-hectare site. “We’re really excited and we really want to do something that treads lightly on the environment,” Mr. Henriquez said. Here are eight things you should know about the plan:

1. The Victorian houses on the south side of Markham Street will remain. Mr. Henriquez says a heritage consultant has been retained as part of the development team.

2. There will be a Mirvish Village Public Market in the centre of the project that will front onto Markham, Bloor and Bathurst streets. The market will be covered, with the roof overhanging part of Markham Street to allow some of the market activities to spill outside. “If you go to a public market, you have 10 to 12 more conversations with people versus the one you have at the checkout counter in a grocery store,” Mr. Henriquez said.

3. Part of Markham Street will be repaved to get rid of the curbs, giving it a European feel. The developer wants the street to be closed on weekends for community activities ranging anywhere from outdoor movies to fairs.

4. There will be an Honest Ed’s Alley devoted to small start-up shops and micro-retail. The start-up shops would not stay for the long term, but would instead pop up and down, gaining exposure in the process. There would also be small permanent shops. The alley would serve as a kind of “bazaar,” with food trucks and many tiny retail units instead of a few Big Box stores.

5. One thousand new rental apartments will be built, a staggering number when you consider that only 1,100 were built in the region between 2013 and 2014. Half of the apartments will be two-, three- and four-bedroom units. There will also be a daycare. There will be no condominiums.

6. It’s all about green. Westbank is hoping to achieve platinum ratings in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the Green Building Certification Institute. To do this, it is promoting cycling in the area by having bike rentals, co-ops, valets and storage. There will also be electric car-charging stations and green roofs.

7.  There are plans for two roof-top gardens to serve as green space for the residents.

8. It cares about the skyline. The plan calls for 40 buildings of different heights, with the tallest tower having 29 floors, and others dropping down to 10 stories or less. The building heights will decrease as they get closer to the existing low-density residential housing in the area. Keeping the Victorian houses on Markham Street will be part of that.

Members of the public can say what they think about the plans by going to: http://bloorandbathurst.com/

This Article, by Emma Dillabough, was originally published by the National Post on March 5, 2015.

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