WATCH ABOVE: Demolition has begun on a Toronto landmark amid a fight to designate Stollerys at Yonge and Bloor as a heritage building. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – It may be too late to save a Toronto landmark.
Workers began knocking down the iconic menswear store Stollerys on Sunday, despite it being considered for designation as a heritage building.
“We’re planning to proceed with this development application over the next 45 days and to proceed very quickly and efficiently on this process with the city,” said Sam Mizrahi, president of Mizrahi Developments.
“We’re not going to leave it as a vacant site at all. In fact, we will be collaborating with the city in doing screening and so forth to make it so that it’s something artistic (that) we can be proud of.”
The structure, sitting at Yonge St. and Bloor St. W for 114 years, was bought by Mizrahi Developments in October.
The new owner was granted a permit to demolish the structure on Friday.
“The reason why we need to demolish the site and to proceed is because of the fact that we have to do a lot of geo-tech and a lot of environmental soil testing on this property in order to be able to develop it into the flagship retail that we want to build,” said Mizrahi.
It took just two days for Mizrahi Developments to start work after acquiring a permit.
City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has pushed to have the building considered for heritage designation. It would have protected the land from demolition but she said the process takes months.
Wong-Tam showed concern over the accelerated demolition that appears to have hampered her attempt to save the building.
“We want the very best for that street and right now there’s just so much uncertainty. So I’ll look forward to getting more information but this is certainly not the way to start a new development application,” said Wong-Tam.
At a community council meeting on Jan. 13, a motion asking city staff to study whether the building should be preserved was passed.
Wong-Tam said the developer has not given her or the community any insight on what the plan is or what the final product is supposed to look like.
“This is not the best way for us to start a new dialogue about what to do with this iconic corner. I can tell you that my office has been inundated with phone calls with residents and business owners all wondering what was happening with that intersection,” said Wong-Tam.
Briar de Lange, executive director with Bloor-Yorkville BIA said since heritage designation has not been processed, there’s very little that can be done, even if there are complaints.
“If there wasn’t a historical designation in the first place, it makes it a little bit difficult at this point in time to go backwards on it,” said de Lange.
“I think what happens on the street level and on the retail component is extremely important for the intersection, for Bloor Street, and I guess we’ll see what the plans are when they get submitted.”
*With files from Mark McAllister