Councillor hoping heritage status can save Stollerys from demolition

WATCH: Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has asked Toronto city staff to study whether or not the building should be granted a heritage designation. Mark McAllister reports.

TORONTO – A city councillor is hoping that designating Stollerys on the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor a heritage building can help stave off a pending demolition.

The clothing store has been at the corner for 114 years but was recently sold to Mizrahi Developments which also recently bought the neighbouring 11 Bloor Street West lot.

Mizrahi hasn’t submitted a development application to the city but in January put forward an application to demolish the building.

“The concern is that it’s sitting on the iconic location and corner of Yonge and Bloor, having a vacant lot that is paved over is not the highest and best land value for us,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said in an interview Wednesday.

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“We also know that there is no application that’s been submitted for redevelopment or rezoning and there is no building permits issued, so what’s the hurry? Why do you want to take down this building so quickly and leave us with a scar on the mink mile?”

Mizrahi Developments did not respond to requests for comment.

Wong-Tam has directed heritage preservation staff to study whether Stollerys is worthy of heritage designation. That study will look at whether the building offers anything that deserves to be saved.

The study wouldn’t immediately save the building from demolition. But it would force the developer to take a possible heritage designation into any future development proposals.

And heritage buildings can be demolished – but that requires city council’s approval.

But does the clothing store at the corner of one of Toronto’s most sought-after intersections offer anything worth preserving? Christopher Hume, a columnist for The Toronto Star, isn’t so sure.

“I think that Stollerys might have been an attractive building when it first opened and its original two storeys. Since then I think it’s been messed up an awful lot,” he said during an interview Wednesday.

”It’s got that unfortunate glass addition on the top and then you know all the billboards on top of that and I don’t think the interior has much to offer in terms of a heritage location.”

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He admitted that Toronto doesn’t have the best track record of preserving its heritage and noted a city’s heritage is “finite.”

“There is only so much of it in the city and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” he said.

But that’s not to say the city disregards its heritage entirely. The Silver Dollar Room, a music venue near College and Spadina, was recently declared a heritage site. The venue has been operating since 1958 with artists such as Bob Dylan, and Blue Rodeo gracing the tiny stage.

City council voted against a proposal to tear down the Silver Dollar Room to make way for a condo in early 2014.

– With files from Mark McAllister

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