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98 Superior Ave (Alexander Basso, 2s, Frank Bandiera Architect Inc.)

Full Metal Junkie

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A historic house has just been demolished mere hours prior to receiving heritage registration.
Built in 1923
Purchased for $850K in January 2020
Demolished on November 30, 2020

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Image courtesy of Google Street View, October 2019


Background to what just happened can be found in this Toronto Star article:

From the article:
Historic Mimico home demolished hours before Heritage Preservation hearing set to consider it for protection

By Francine Kopun

Mon., Nov. 30, 2020

Another developer has demolished a historic Toronto property that was being considered for protection by the city.

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View attachment 286275

Alexander Basso acted before dawn on Monday to tear down a 97-year-old stone cottage in Mimico, leaving disappointed neighbours to watch from the curb as a bulldozer bucket swung through the roof and the walls of the property they had fought to save.

“When I went this morning at 6:10, that bucket had already swung,” said Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman, who occupied the veranda of the home for about eight hours on Saturday in an attempt to prevent its demolition.

“This has to change,” she said, referring to a loophole that permitted destruction of the little house, at 98 Superior Ave., even though it was being considered for addition to the city’s Heritage Register at a Preservation Board meeting held the morning it was demolished.

In fact, the Toronto Preservation Board’s first order of business on Monday was to vote to add two neighbouring homes like it to the Heritage Register, noting that it was sadly too late for 98 Superior.

“We are heartbroken,” said board member Paul Cordingley.

Basso watched the demolition of the building with his father. He initially declined to comment, and then called the Star back with a statement.

“My grandfather came to Canada from Italy in the 1950s and laid bricks for 40 years and he’s in a long-term-care home now, he’s 95 and the only thing that I regret from this situation was that he wasn’t there to experience it and see it with me because he would be so proud,” Basso said.

He declined to elaborate on why he knocked down the house instead of trying to incorporate it into the redevelopment.

According to the city, 98 Superior Ave., 96 Superior Ave., and 214 Queens Ave. together contained “a fine, unique collection of early-20th century stone cottages in the Mimico area.”

Built in 1923, 98 Superior Ave. incorporated elements of the British-inspired Cottage style, with symmetrically-arranged features and stone cladding, according to a report written by city heritage staff.

“There was a beauty in this house that always stayed with me,” said Lynn Taylor, 58, who grew up at 98 Superior Ave. “Even as a child, I knew our house felt different.”

Her father Alex Taylor bought the property for $14,000 in 1966 and sold it for $84,000 in 1982, Taylor said.

Property records show Basso paid $850,000 for the house in January.

Basso is following in the footsteps of developer Sam Mizrahi, who had the 114-year-old Stollerys building at Yonge St. And Bloor St. W. demolished even as Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam was trying to have it added to the register, in January 2015.

These and other overnight and weekend demolitions are the reason city staff are seeking to have large numbers of properties across the city added to the Heritage Register, said Mayor John Tory, responding to a question at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

He said tearing down buildings in the dark of night is neither workable nor respectful.

“I think it’s really regrettable that when the owner, in this case, would have known there was a Preservation Board meeting today, that steps were then taken to tear the building down before a proper due-course hearing would have taken place to examine the merits of all this,” Tory said.

“I think we have to do better, and I think that some of the steps being taken by the planning department will assist with that, but I’m not sure if the system has been streamlined and been made effective to the degree it needs to, so you can have careful consideration of these things.”

Basso was able to obtain a demolition permit for the building because although it was being considered for the Heritage Register, it had not yet been added.

Adding a home to the Heritage Register means the property owner must give the city 60 days’ notice if they wish to demolish the building. That gives the city time to consider whether to designate the building.

Designated properties require permission under the Ontario Heritage Act for alterations or demolitions.

Under the rules of the Ontario Building Code, if a property owner applies for a residential demolition permit and the application meets the criteria set out in the Ontario Building Code, the permit must be issued within 10 days.

“As the property at 98 Superior Avenue was neither listed nor designated, the City could not withhold or delay the approval of a demolition permit for heritage reasons,” according to a response from the city to questions about the process.

“They didn’t do anything legally wrong — they highlighted a loophole in the system,” said neighbour Arwen Hunter.

“They outplayed us. They knew the system better than us.”


I intend to maintain this thread with construction updates of what this wonderful old cottage will be replaced with.
 
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Full Metal Junkie

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The proposed building is a 2 storey + basement triplex, one unit per floor, 1,057 sq.ft. each.

Elevation drawings of the new proposal:

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Exterior finish materials are a mix of stucco, corrugated horizonal metal siding, and thin stone veneer.

Source: Toronto Development application number 20 151053 WET 03 MV
 
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Brown Vinyl Window

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Ooooh, Superior Lofts (smells more like inferior lofts ammiright?1?) Replete with 10 ft ceilings (a Toronto 'Loftz' must-have), ticky-tacky EFIS (weathers so well in Canada) and Rehashed Quonset Hut cladding. So worth the destruction of that lovely stone cottage...
This town is becoming the architectural equivalent of filthy gray sweatpants.
 

Full Metal Junkie

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Another Star article about this:

From the article:
Councillor calls for review of heritage rules after ‘heartbreaking’ demolition of historic Mimico house
By Francine Kopun
Toronto Coun. Mark Grimes says he will request a review of the city’s heritage designation process with an eye to preventing demolition permits from being issued for properties under consideration for the heritage registry, after a century stone cottage was torn down in Mimico hours before being added to the list.
“It was heartbreaking to see this house come down,” Grimes said in a response to questions from the Star.
Grimes spent the weekend working on an ultimately futile effort to save the house at 98 Superior Ave., reaching out to Premier Doug Ford and writing a last-minute appeal to Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, asking her office to intervene.
Developer Alexander Basso, who has applied to build a triplex on the property, had the home knocked down before dawn on Monday morning, as neighbours who had fought to save it looked on.
The house was scheduled to be added to the city’s heritage register less than four hours later, at a Preservation Board meeting.
“I want you to know that although we lost the battle, you helped to raise an important conversation about the heritage designation process,” Grimes told neighbours in a statement.
Grimes said he worked with the city’s chief planner, city legal and heritage staff to formally request that a stop order be issued under the provincial Heritage Act. As the property was not yet on the city’s heritage register, nothing could be done.
“Unfortunately, the legislative requirements were not met in this case,” said Grimes (Ward 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore).
According to the letter from Grimes to MacLeod, Basso initially submitted an application for redevelopment that required city approval because it included a request for zoning variances, made to the city’s Committee of Adjustment on Aug. 5.
Grimes and the senior manager of heritage planning requested the matter be deferred to allow time for staff to research and evaluate the property for cultural heritage value.
Basso was later able to obtain a demolition permit by submitting a plan instead to build a single-family home on the site.
According to an application filed with the city of Toronto, the demolition permit issued for 98 Superior Ave., was for a proposal to demolish an existing single-family dwelling and construct another single-family dwelling, without variances.
Having a plan with no variances is one of the requirements under the Ontario Building Code for a residential demolition permit, according to the city.
Even had the Preservation Board voted to add the property to the register, the decision has to be approved by community council, and ultimately, by city council, which doesn’t meet again until Dec. 16.
Grimes said it had been his intention to ensure that the property received designation.

It's odd that this little cottage may just become the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, but it's possible that City is about to review how it handles its heritage preservation. It seems like Mark Grimes is about to become the unlikely heritage champion. I will certainly be writing to him to give my thoughts of what's wrong with the process of demolishing heritage listed structures without reviewing their heritage value first. I encourage my fellow forum dwellers to do the same - write to your local councilors about what you think about Toronto's heritage preservation regulations. If anything comes up for a vote, at least they would have heard from you.
 

A Torontonian Now

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Ironic that the proposed triplex is exactly the missing middle we need a lot of (albeit I would prefer better materials than the proposed stucco), but this small-time developer is able to do it cost-efficiently only by buying a house that was depressed in value likely because it would have been very expensive to renovate, but should have been designated heritage.
 

Murie

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If you own a historic house or building, please have it listed as a heritage property. If you want to make sure it is preserved after you are gone, have it designated. I bought an old historic building in need of restoration. When I fixed up, other neighbours also followed suit. I started to see them fixing up their houses, landscaping their front yards, sweeping the curb, and keeping the street clean. Together we all increased the value of our properties and the desirability of the neighbourhood by preserving, restoring, and maintaining its character. When watering my flowers at the front door, it's nice to see people walking by and taking pictures of the building. When houses go up for sale on the street, I see real estate agents pointing at my building to prospective new homeowners. People walking by ask me, what is this place and I point them towards my historic plaque on the corner. I am really proud to own a designated heritage building. I wish I had known 98 Superior Ave was for sale for such a low price last year, I would have bought it and restored it.

I have lived in Mimico for 30 years. 98 Superior Ave. was a gem. I went to see it over the weekend and the morning of its heartbreaking destruction. The Orin.ca demolition company workers and developer laughed as it was smashed to pieces. The neighbours had tears in their eyes. The house still lays there smashed to the ground, and it hurts to drive by and look at it. Developer just leaving it there smashed up as a f-you to the neighbourhood.

I talked to the developer and told him that a historic building is worth much more than a new build and that I own a historic building in the area, (Bell Telephone building on Birmingham St.) had it designated historic, paid for a heritage plaque too. It is now worth 10 times more! The new owner works at TD bank and he said I guess you are a better business person. I told him I have common sense and I am a better neighbour. You broke people's hearts today, tearing it down just after 6 am this morning and at 9:30am the City of Toronto was taking steps to save it. (Councillor Grimes worked all weekend contacting the Province to help save it)

I checked out the architect's website for the proposed new build. It looks like he has designed some really nice looking homes. Let's hope he designs something better than the triplex proposed. I hate those ugly stucco box houses popping up in the area. They look like crap after a few years, the stucco weathered and stained. Nothing beats the durability or look of natural stone or brick, which only look better with time.

We have to educate the general public who are afraid of heritage listing and designation. They think it will make their property harder to sell. People actually do pay a premium for a historic property with character.

At my historic building in New Toronto, we rent office space and use its heritage status as a selling feature. People love the beautiful restoration work and landscaping. It provides employment for neighbours. Over 30 small businesses operate at this location. When I first bought the building, the previous owners thought it should be demolished and a condo built in its place. Although in rough shape, I wanted to save it. I made sure it was forever preserved as a designated historic property so that when I am gone, a developer can never tear it down.
 

junctionist

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How backwards can you be as an organization to invest time in making a heritage determination only to issue a demolition permit before the issue has even been decided? What did you think was going to happen in a contentious situation?
 

Murie

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Wow, those photos of smashed up 98 Superior really hurt. The remains of the little green canopy which once sheltered the front door brings tears to my eyes 😥

When I visited the house before it was destroyed, I thought to myself how lovely it must have been to sit out front in the 2 chairs under the little green canopy. Or in the back yard under that perfectly shaped oak tree. The previous lady owner who died must have been a gardener. The lovely ivy growing over the new fence, the pretty shrubs at the side of the house. Perennials in the front garden. I bet she planted lots of annuals each year.

I am a landscaper, I have seen a lot of good and bad stonework on natural stone garden walls. I have seen some horrible stone work on new walls being constructed around town homes being built in south Etobicoke. It’s not easy to build a beautiful wall, you have to carefully select the stones for colour, shape, size and plan how they are placed to look random. Lots of shaping involved.

I walked around 98 Superior to admire the stone workmanship. Of the group of 3 houses, 98 had the best stonework and it was in remarkable shape, even the chimney, which often deteriorate.

(I thought back in time to watching the restoration of a natural stone wall on the south side of Lake Shore Blvd West in front of another historic home near the Polish consulate. The stone mason completely took apart the wall and then reused the same stones. The owner of that house takes a lot of pride, and I see they spared no expense restoring the wall. It took months to rebuild that wall. I wonder if that house on the lakeshore is listed and I am going to check the city records. If not, I am going to knock on their door and let them know I have been admiring their home for years, please consider having it designated to protect it from a future developer after your are gone. All the remaining century old homes along Lake Shore Blvd West should be listed. A few have been demolished over the past decade and replaced with bigger homes with less character.)

Then I wondered how long it took to build 98 Superior. It must have been built slowly and carefully with love and care. All 4 sides of the house had beautiful stonework, even the side up against the neighbour. I noticed these things: the careful selection of the stone pieces to look random, they were installed level, the colour blending. The mortar lines. The details around all the windows, even the sides and back yard. All beautiful.

After 98 Superior was smashed to pieces, I looked at the stone. It was pink in the center, the parts that were not exposed to the elements. Almost like flesh, like it was alive! They senselessly killed it. It made me cry. That big beautiful century old tree in the back yard is going to be next.

I am still mourning the loss of this remarkable little stone cottage. It wasn’t just an old house. It was special.
 

Murie

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This beautiful old home at 2597 Lake Shore Blvd West is not on the heritage list, but it should be! The owner takes great care of their home, this the property that the front stone wall was carefully rebuilt. It is such an interesting house, I want to learn more about its history.

I looked to see what else is listed or designated in the area and there are not too many.
I understand it takes time to do the research and prepare a report to have it listed and there is a backlog of properties that need to be protected.

I like the idea of heritage neighbourhoods getting overall protection, requiring more detailed research and consideration of a particular property before a demolition permit is issued.
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Northern Light

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How backwards can you be as an organization to invest time in making a heritage determination only to issue a demolition permit before the issue has even been decided? What did you think was going to happen in a contentious situation?

This issue has come up before; was Stollery's the last time?

Buildings says they have no right to refuse a demolition permit for a building, if all the paperwork is in order, if it's not designated.

I'm not sure that they have an affirmative obligation to rush the permit out the door either.............

But regardless, this conflicting issue between Buildings and Heritage has been an ongoing one for some time.
 

Murie

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This house has to get listed: large home at 2597 Lake Shore Blvd. W. behind a low stone wall was the long time home of Charles Abel, a pioneer in the photography business.

Built in the late 1910s in the Arts and Craft style, it was originally owned by a Dr. Richardson, however, he only lived here a few years before selling it to Charles Abel in 1920.

Local historian, Michael Harrison:
 

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