For over decade now, the Loblaws site at Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard has been the subject of much speculation and concern for its future. With new developments and residents moving into the area, many would like to see a new grocery store sooner rather than later in an area with too little retail. Sitting just down the street from the remodelled Tip Top Tailors warehouse-turned-condominium, this equally historic building has been of growing interest to the community.

Loblaws, City of TorontoHistorically significant facade on the south side of the Loblaws Bathurst and Lake Shore site, image from Google Street View

Demolition crews are now working on tearing down the northern section of the building below the Gardiner Expressway, a section which does not have the heritage protection which the southern portion facing lake Shore has. Hertiage protection on the facades of the southern portion of the Art Deco structure will be rebuilt if not fully preserved when the final remodelling or developent is complete, depending on the outsome of dicsussion still underway. Plans for a community consultation on the plan are being worked out for the fall of this year.

Loblaws, City of Toronto, Loblaws BathurstRear portion demolition in a wider context, image by Brandon Leal

Loblaws, City of Toronto, Loblaws BathurstDemolition of rear portion on Loblaws' site, image by Brandon Leal

With the expanding population of CityPlace and construction barriers preventing access to Bathurst Street, the street network will be expanded to provide better mobility and connection for all in the community. Specifically, as part of the work now underway, Housley Street will be extended west through the site to Bathurst Street, eventually eliminating the long walk now necessary between CityPlace and Bathurst.

CItyPlace, City of TorontoCity biulding and street network plan, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

Given the nature of the site, a brief history is in order.

Built in 1927, the building originally functioned as a handsome headquarters and warehouse for the company. Complete with large oven and massive refrigerators, the facility produced a multitude of goods for the massive grocery chain. In the 1970s the headquarters were moved and the building was turned over to the Daily Bread Food Bank. In 2000 the food bank moved out and the site has since sat vacant. In 2001 the building was declared a heritage property.

Loblaws, City of Toronto, Archives1936 view towards the historic Loblaw warehouse and headquarters, image courtesy of Heritage Toronto

Loblaws, City of Toronto, Archives, Heritage TorontoInside the Loblaw warehouse facility, image courtesy of Heritage Toronto

In 2004 Loblaws submitted an application to the City to demolish the enitre structure and build a Superstore in its place. The city rejected the application and Loblaws took the fight to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in 2006. Complications and changes of plan since have meant the case was never settled and eventually dropped.

Loblaws, City of Toronto, Loblaws BathurstPlan put forward for the Loblaws Site reviewed in 2011, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

The City and Loblaws have been in negotiations since with permits for demolition being approved and refused. With multiple new residents moving into the area in recent years, Loblaws view this site as a "significant project." In 2011, hoarding went up around the building to protect passersby from a deteriorating skin, and Loblaws filed another application with the city, leading to work now occuring on the north portion of the site.

As work continues and the story continues to evolve, Urban Toronto will bring you the latest.