In 2012 Canada Post was looking to relocate the services of three of its Toronto post offices into a unified modern facility, and called for proposals. The Rockport Group's site on Wicksteed Avenue in Leaside suited their needs, and Rockport was subsequently given the first chance at Canada Post’s soon to be surplus properties for redevelopment. Rockport Group President Jack Winberg told us that he chose Postal Station K over sites on Charles Street and Avenue Road as it provided the most intriguing redevelopment possibilities.

If you've spent any time in the neighbourhood surrounding Yonge and Eglinton in the past year you most likely have noticed the plethora of signs and posters displaying slogans such as "Save Postal Station K', and you may have even witnessed a rally taking place. The neighbourhood loves Postal Station K as it is an attractive limestone-clad 1936-built Canada Post Office—designed by architect Murray Brown—and features the area's finest Art Deco touches. The building also sports a forecourt along Yonge that has been a neighbourhood meeting place for years, so it was natural that when Canada Post announced it was putting the structure up for sale that the community would be on guard.

The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square condos Toronto by Raw DesignWest view: The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square by Raw Design

While only a couple of blocks north of the increasingly urban corner of Yonge and Eglinton, Winberg learned from residents that this sitting area in front of the post office was considered the centre of the North Toronto neighbourhood, and that the locals know it as Montgomery Square: the building sits on the former site of Montgomerey's Tavern, which served as a staging point during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Winberg says that what he learned over the course of two months from the community made him appreciate the sense of place here.

Winberg intends to go to lengths to preserve that sense of place, and even enhance it. The Rockport Group proposes to restore the 4000 square foot limestone structure, and will be looking for interesting retailers and/or restauranteurs to make best use of the space. Winberg promises to reflect the history of the site in the landscape architecture, and even the pavement markings. While the building’s facade will still reflect 1936, Winberg promises that the historic events of the 1837 Upper Canada rebellion will be the inspiration for any changes to the public realm out front.

The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square condos Toronto by Raw DesignSouthwest view: The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square by Raw Design

Winberg’s residential development would replace a single-storey brick extension and parking lot at the back of the site. As excavation would not take place under the forecourt of the limestone structure, a five-storey deep garage would be excavated at the back of the site. It’s a more expensive option than only having to dig three storeys down had they used 100% of the site instead of only 60%, but Winberg feels the extra cost will be worth the enhanced heritage value of the property gained by not moving the building out of the way during the excavation and new foundation work.

Regarding the 26-storey tower, Winberg says that it complies with the City’s tall buildings standards, although he acknowledges that the height is still a matter of discussion with the planning department. While 26 storeys would be considered short in Downtown and would be par-for-the-course just one block to the south, this plot of land is across the street from the area the City considers the Yonge/Eglinton Urban Growth Centre. At only 8 times FSI (8 times coverage) of the lot, the proposal is modestly scaled compared the other proposals nearby and appropriate for a site that is so close to a subway station (and soon the Crosstown line too).

The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square condos Toronto by Raw DesignSouth view: The Rockport Group's plan for Montgomery Square by Raw Design

The architecture, by RAW Design, sets off the heritage structure from the tower by a two-storey glass reveal at the residents’ amenity spaces, while unifying the whole project by picking up the limestone character of the heritage structure below on the scattered cladding panels above.

The ongoing planning process, including more public consultations, will eventually determine the City’s final response to the application, and whether or not Winberg may have to consider the OMB. He wants a development that both he and the community will be proud of, and says he needs the 26 storeys to finance the high quality public realm that he believes the site deserves.

UrbanToronto will follow the project as the story develops. In the meantime, you can find more renderings in our dataBase page, linked below, while the associated Forum thread links will allow you to get in on the discussion. Otherwise, leave a comment in the space provided on this page!