Here’s what developers want to do to the abandoned Loblaws warehouse at Bathurst and Lake Shore
What it is: West Block, a new development on a mostly disused 3.5-acre chunk of land just south of the Gardiner Expressway and east of Bathurst. It would consist of a seven-story commercial building and two residential towers, one of them 37 storeys and the other 41 storeys. Different proposals for this site have been under discussion for more than a decade, but the developers finally made a formal announcement on Wednesday and released some new renderings.
Pedigree: The project is a partnership between Choice Properties, which is chaired by Galen Weston, and Wittington Properties, the real estate arm of one of the Weston family’s holding companies. Concord Adex (the developer behind CityPlace, the condo neighbourhood Toronto loves to hate) is handling the residential towers.
Most promising feature: A long and tortured negotiation process with city hall resulted in an extraordinary agreement: rather than tear down the site’s current occupant, a 1927 warehouse and manufacturing facility that served as Loblaw’s head office until the 1970s, the developers are going to dismantle it brick by brick and then rebuild part of the facade, so the original art deco styling isn’t lost. Best of all for condo dwellers who have been living on whatever they can scrounge from the nearest Rabba is the fact that Loblaws plans to put a grocery store on the main floor.
Risk factor: The hard part is already over: the developers got conditional zoning and official plan approvals back in May. At this point, unless something goes terribly wrong on the business side, there’s not much that can prevent this project from going forward as planned.
Likely opposition: These condo towers are coming to an already very condo-ified part of the city, so it’s not likely they’re going to raise a lot of NIMBY hackles. Some heritage boosters may be dismayed that the preservation of the older building will only be skin-deep.
The odds: The critical approvals are there, and the project is backed by a family of billionaires, so things are looking pretty good. The developers think opening day will be sometime in spring 2019.