The house at Toronto's 450 Pape Avenue has had its turns as a mansion, a Salvation Army shelter, an empty and abandoned building, and a plethora of Hollywood film sets. This being Toronto, the home was also recently subject to a bizarre weight-loss lawsuit and a real estate bidding war—as well as a number of stalled and contentious redevelopment plans—with the property listed for sale at a starting price of $1 in March of this year. Next up? It could be condos.
Completed in 1901, Pape Avenue's William Harris House was built as the home of the meatpacking magnate whose name it bears. However, the 25,000 ft² Edwardian home—designed by architect Henry Simpson—retained a fairly short-lived tenure as an opulent mansion. In the years following Harris' death, the family sold the property to the Salvation Army in 1927, with the building subsequently re-purposed and expanded to serve as a home for single mothers.
Becoming known as the Cranfield House, the building continued to be operated by the Salvation Army for the bulk of the 20th century, eventually receiving a heritage designation—under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act—in 2010. By that time, the property was the subject of a proposed City-led plan to purchase and modernize the site, which would be redeveloped as affordable housing.
Then, with the election of Rob Ford, things changed. The City's plan to purchase the site was quickly abandoned, and the Salvation Army sold the property to an asset management company called the Rose and Thistle Group for $1.7 million. From there, however, the fate of the property was again in turmoil as a high-profile lawsuit revealed that the Rose and Thistle Group defrauded none other than Toronto's quasi-celebrity weight loss doctor—and real estate investor—Stanley Bernstein. ("Medically supervised weight loss. Guaranteed").
The property subsequently went into receivership, before being purchased by Eracon Holdings Inc. In 2015, Eracon submitted a proposal to redevelop the site as a 28-unit condominium, restoring the original 1901 heritage structure while adding two levels to the two-storey rear annex built in the mid-20th century.
Yet, in March of this year, the property was suddenly up for sale again, this time with a listed price of $1. As reported in Metro, the attention-grabbing 'sale' was floated as an possibility to find a "grander vision" while redevelopment plans remained in play. While some City officials—including local Councillor Paula Fletcher—expressed interest in reviving the affordable housing plan, a renewed bid for the property was seen as "out of reach."
Following the well-publicized $1 sale, Eracon's plan to redevelop the site has re-emrged, with a resubmission presented to the City of Toronto in late July. Designed by Catherine Naismith Architects and Coolearth Architecture, the proposal has been slightly modified (with many of the revisions relating to vehicle access and parking). The plan for 28 condominium suites has been maintained, with a unit mix of 10 studio, 13 one-bedroom, and 5 two-bedroom suites. The property is located within a short walking distance of a proposed Gerrard Square GO RER/SmartTrack/Relief Line station.
We will keep you updated as the project continues to develop, and more information becomes available. In the meantime, the property has served as a site for a number of prominent—and, according to some residents, disruptive—film and TV shoots, including an adaptation of Stephen King's IT.
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