Future anything but certain for King West heritage buildings

Proposed Mirvish/Ghery development calls for demolition

The future of four heritage buildings on King St. West in downtown Toronto remains uncertain.

David Mirvish and architect Frank Ghery are collaborating on a project that proposes to demolish the four buildings and see three condos rise in this already densely populated area.

Toronto resident Karin Joeveer spoke at a Toronto and East York community council meeting in November, to voice her concerns about this project.

“I feel cities need diversity of architecture to retain their character and to preserve their past,” Joeveer said. “Toronto it losing too many old buildings to these new sky scraping condos.”

The changing Toronto skyline, due to condos and high-rises, is evident and according to data provided by the city, there are numerous developments, approved by city council that have yet to be built.

The same data reveals that “over 148,200 residential units…were proposed in the City of Toronto,” in the last five years.

Furthermore, the downtown and central waterfront area is the main location for residential development…with 41per cent of the residential units proposed in the City,”

But Mirvhish views his development as integral to the city’s growth and prosperity.

“The buildings we have are not representing us in a way that we need to be represented in a very competitive world,” Mirvish said.

“This (project) is about saying this is an important city and we’re going to be able to hold our heads high amongst other cities.”

He added that the improvements that Ghery’s design brings to the area would improve the infrastructure of the area by widening some sidewalks, for example.

City Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), voiced concerns regarding the development, saying that the current infrastructure, nearby parks and streetcars could not withstand increasing the populating in the area.

Even more concerns were raised, specifically in regards to the demolition. While Ghery didn’t seem to be concerned about the demolition, Coun. Matlow directed questions at him about the benefits of designating heritage buildings.

“Should we not be designating heritage buildings in Toronto?” Matlow asked. “I don’t know,” said Ghery. “I don’t live here anymore so I don’t know what’s sacred.”

The decision as to what is sacred will be up to city council next week when they meet on December 16.

But Joeveer’s opinion isn’t likely to change any time soon.

“They (the buildings) are solid well-built structures that suit the area yet Mirvish wants to obliterate them. A part of history gone forever,” Joeveer said. “We need to honour our past wherever we can.”