The Wellington Destructor, located at 677 Wellington Street West, is a former garbage incinerator built in the 1920s. It remained active until the incineration of waste was halted in the mid-1970s in favour of a landfill system of dealing with waste. The destructor was then used as a transfer station until 1986 when it was decommissioned, and has been vacant ever since.
The 3,700m² structure is now a heritage building, having been added to the City of Toronto Heritage Register in June, 2005. It was deemed architecturally significant as a surviving example of an early 20th century industrial structure designed with elements of Modern Classicism. It sits on a 0.85 hectare property owned by the City.
In 2014, City Council adopted a recommendation from staff to study the adaptive reuse opportunities of the Wellington Destructor, and a 2017 public engagement process resulted in participants stating a preference that the site be used as a space for arts and culture, recreation and leisure, and community and social services. In 2018 Council authorized staff to develop and undertake a call process to secure a head lessee for a term lease of the Wellington Destructor.
Four proposals were weeded down to a shortlist of two. Prospective lessees were asked to demonstrate how they would meet the adaptive reuse objectives and show the ongoing financial sustainability of the project by demonstrating how the City’s capital contribution of up to $32 million would be repaid over the term of the lease.
According to City documents, the TAS proposal provides the highest financial returns to the City and includes an innovative vision for the conservation of the Wellington Destructor building as well as the construction of a new low-rise pavilion fronting Wellington Street.
All uses within the property will fall within three categories: education, creation and innovation. It will include community, non-profit, commercial and light-industrial use, with tenants and programming partners balancing affordability and public access with commercial returns.
The new pavilion will include retail, a restaurant and well as space for creative and technological industry.
The proposal includes sustainable technologies such as a green roof on the pavilion and photovoltaic panels on the Wellington Destructor building.
“This is a great step forward in the Wellington Destructor project,” said Mayor John Tory in a press release. “By preserving its heritage elements and creating new flexible spaces, this site will serve many uses and become a destination for people to create, learn and innovate.”
“We have a tremendous opportunity to revitalize the City-owned Wellington Destructor heritage building and lands, transforming it into a dynamic hub that will serve the rapidly growing community,” said Joe Cressy, City Councillor for Spadina-Fort York. “By investing in this public asset—which has sat vacant for 35 years—we can create a vibrant downtown destination that will be home to a range of arts, culture, innovation and educational programming. This is how we can breathe new life into the treasured buildings of our city's past.”
Staff’s recommendation of TAS as the lessee will be considered by the General Government and Licensing Committee at a meeting on October 20, and if adopted, will be considered by City Council at the November 9 and 10 Council meeting. Staff have recommended the lease extend 49 years, with two options for extensions of 25 years each.
You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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