Plans for the site could involve rental housing, a public market, a car-free stretch on Markham—and, of course, condos.
In October 2013, it was announced that cultural landmark (or hard-to-believe eyesore, depending on whom you ask) Honest Ed’s, along with a number of standalone businesses nearby, had been sold to Vancouver-based Westbank Properties—and now Torontonians are getting insight into the kind of vision the developer might have for the 1.8-hectare parcel near Bloor and Bathurst streets.
Westbank, known in Toronto for its work on the Shangri-La Hotel, will reportedly be bringing B.C. architect Gregory Henriquez on board for the project (an announcement to this effect is expected later in September). In Vancouver, Henriquez and Westbank have worked together on mixed-used buildings that incorporate affordable housing. “I bring something of a left-leaning social activist component as well as a design component,” Mr. Henriquez told the Globe. “It starts to temper the economics, and it becomes something really special.”
Westbank has not yet firmed up its plans for the site, but the company’s president, Ian Gillespie, indicated that they might involve rental options as well as the inevitable condos—and that there’s been talk of turning part of Markham Street into a pedestrian-only area, and incorporating restaurants, retail space, and a grocery store or public market into the redevelopment. Gillespie has also been talking to the University of Toronto about whether it might be interested in establishing a presence on the site.
Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) noted that the company’s community consultations have highlighted local residents’ priorities, which include accommodating smaller retailers, providing open spaces, and retaining some aspects of the original Mirvish Village.