Questions over whether the building housing Stollerys at the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor should be preserved may be moot after demolition work began on the structure this past weekend. The large land assembly, encompassing 768 Yonge north to Bloor plus 1 and 11 Bloor Street West, has been the subject of much anticipation since Mizrahi Developments bought the lands for $300 million and announced their intention to build a "landmark" tower designed by world-renowned starchitect Sir Norman Foster of Foster + Partners with Toronto-based Core Architects.
LNahid2000 was the first UrbanToronto Forum contributor to notice the activity and quickly snapped a photo, as seen below, of workers taking down some of the art deco features of the north facade.
Local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose ward has lost other potential heritage buildings in recent years, put forth a motion at the Toronto and East York Community Council on January 13th, six days after the demolition application was submitted, requesting staff to report on the possibility of designating the building under the Ontario Heritage Act. Such designation would have meant that any demolition permit for the site would have to be granted by City Council. The motion was adopted, though Wong-Tam states that the process would have taken months to complete.
The demolition application that had been submitted by Mizrahi on January 7th was granted on the 16th, with crews seen on the site the next day dismantling the building. Sam Mizrahi is on record as saying that he does not believe that there was anything of significant enough heritage value to preserve, and that the City has had over 100 years to designate it if they had felt it was important enough.
Toronto Building Department staff are required to grant a demolition permit if the application meets all the requirements, and as the Stollerys building was not designated heritage, the permit was issued. As the Ontario Building Code allows owners of commercial properties to demolish buildings without first submitting plans to the City for their replacement, Wong-Tam had hoped the application to consider heritage status would prevent the site from becoming a vacant lot or parking lot in the short term.
The image below by Forum contributor G.L. 17 shows that by Sunday, most of the upper half of the building's north facade had been removed.
Though there is little left of the features potentially worthy of protection, a stop order could be issued by the province under the Ontario Heritage Act to prevent further alterations to the building. The City also has the opportunity to declare its intention to designate, which would void the current demolition permit, however doing so would require a City Council vote. Though the next Council meeting is not until February 10th, a special meeting could be called if enough Councillors support the motion.
The menswear store had been an institution at the high-profile corner for 114 years. The building itself, complete with art deco detailing, is over 80 years old. The property is one of several major sites acquired for the development, which includes all buildings north of the current Rogers store up to Bloor. The proposed major redevelopment for the site has been coined 'The One' by Mizrahi, with hints that it will rival One Bloor East in height, currently under construction across Yonge Street and heading for 75 storeys and 844 feet.
As the dismantling of 1 Bloor West continues, a demolition application was also submitted and subsequently approved for 11 Bloor West. It is currently unclear when crews will complete demolition and what, if anything, will replace the buildings until Mizrahi's vision is fulfilled.
The One's Projects & Construction Forum thread has been buzzing with the news all weekend; be sure to join in on the discussion or leave a comment in the field provided below.