By Megan Bocchinfuso –
St. James Town West Park has been closed since September due to construction of a neighbouring rental apartment complex at 545-565 Sherbourne Street.
Medallion Development Inc. is beginning construction of a 51-storey apartment building at the corner of Sherbourne and Howard Streets (near Bloor). The complex is to have 532 new rental residential units, such as bachelor, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The building will have 400 square meters of retail space at ground level on Sherbourne Street.
Medallion is using St. James Town West Park to stage for the development, hosting construction equipment such as bulldozers, cranes and portables. Most of the park features have been removed, aside from a few trees on the northeast corner, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division said.
Jeremy Humphrey, community planner for the City of Toronto overseeing the development, said the developer was able to use the park for construction due to an agreement with the city and park-owner back in 2019.
St. James Town West Park was leased from the city to a private owner in 1978 when the two parties entered a 60-year lease agreement, which was foundational to the apartment development at 591 Sherbourne.
The pre-existing 3-storey privately owned building at 583 Sherbourne Street, which has now been demolished, will be space given to the park at the time of reconstruction in 2024. In exchange for this, an equal-sized portion of the park will be added to the development site.
As part of the approval for the project, the lease was extended by 124 years, with conditions that may allow for another 124 years on top of that, Humphrey said.
The 51-storey building will certainly be a first to its area. As of right now, the intersection has low-rise buildings towering not more than a few storeys. However, there are multiple applications for other residential and mixed-use high-rise buildings close by. A 53-storey mixed-use building application was submitted in 2019 for 603-611 Sherbourne Street.
The new apartment building will have underground parking connected to the existing garage at the heritage Thomas Cruttenden Building at 601 Sherbourne Street. (This heritage property will not be touched beyond renovation agreements with the city.)
The conjoined parking garage will serve both buildings at 601 and 591 Sherbourne Street and will track underneath St. James Town West Park. The park’s south entrance will remain open until spring 2024 between Sherbourne and Bleecker Street.
Medallion manager Luka Kot said the main benefit for the conjoined parking garage “would be consolidating the garbage and service areas for the entire property and allowing for the typical service areas to be less intrusive on the streetscape.”
As a result of the developer’s use of the park, the city saw an opportunity to redevelop the park and collected feedback from residents. During the summer of 2021, the City conducted an online survey, held virtual workshops and consulted with Indigenous rights-holders and a youth resource group. Feedback showed high interest for features such as lighted pathways, overhead lighting, Indigenous representation and more seating options.
The park will also see a new playground with new equipment, a raised platform, a skating area, pollinator gardens and Indigenous art, said Jane Arbour, Manager Stakeholder Relations & Issues Management.
The park renovation is set to begin in 2024 and end and reopen a year later, depending on Medallion’s construction progress.
“The 51-storey building will certainly be a first to its area” – This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. There is quite literally a 50 storey apartment across the street with the Selby, a 43-storey infill tower at 561 Sherbourne and another 32-storeys at James Cooper Mansion. Stop making it seem like these towers are somehow out of place, its Sherbourne & Bloor for heavens sake. Need better writing on subject matter next time if you’re going to print it, here’s a helpful map for future reference https://urbantoronto.ca/map/