Saint Luke’s Church redevelopment draws mixed reviews

Image via KPMB Architects.

Fiona O’Flynn

Saint Luke’s United Church at Sherbourne and Carlton Streets may be redeveloped into a mixed-use apartment complex. The proposed design, by KPMB Architects, on behalf of

United Property Resource Corporation, includes adding a 12-storey apartment building in an L-shape around the church building.

The original church and Sunday school would be retained, though modified, but two additions –the 1929 narthex (the covered outdoor porch) and the 1962 gymnasium – would be removed to accommodate the plans. The church would continue to function as a place of worship.

The new building complex would offer 100 housing units, 30 percent of which would be affordable, and spaces for commercial and community use. On the second floor, a community hall would support “a wide variety of programming” with an outdoor terrace offering views of Allan Gardens, according to the planning rationale. On the ground floor at Sherbourne, below the terrace, a café is proposed.

Many Cabbagetown community members welcome the proposed transformation. “A development like this is so many local residents’ dreams coming true,” said David Saad, a board member of the Cabbagetown South Residents Association.

Cabbagetown resident Tim Chase called the plan the “best thing that has hit the Sherbourne area in years.”

However, some community members are hesitant about the stylistic aspects.

“I think the colour of the building is distracting,” said Mark Shanahan. “It would be much better if it was similar or complementary to the colour of the church.”

Another Cabbagetown resident called the building design “bulky” and “LEGO-ish in appearance.”

Saint Luke’s United Church hosts a variety of community events and programming, including dance classes, meal programs, and music recitals.

The church is a registered heritage property in Toronto, part of the Cabbagetown Northwest Heritage Conservation District. The property is owned by the United Property Resource Corporation, which the United Church of Canada created to advise communities of faith on real estate.

“The proposed development is found to conserve the cultural heritage value of on-site and adjacent heritage resources,” according to a heritage impact assessment by ERA Architects.

The “Romanesque Revival style” church was designed by Canadian architects Henry Langley and his nephew Edmund Burke in 1887. In the early 1900s it was called the “Millionaires Church” in reference to its parishioners’ high social class.

The new complex, to be built south and east of the church, was designed by KPMB Architects, a Toronto-based practice with over 400 awards.

KPMB Architects submitted a zoning amendment application to the city on July 29. After feedback from city planners. City Council will decide whether it can go ahead.

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