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Tag Archives: toronto architecture

Stollerys and the slaying of a building

The ignominious demolition of a men’s clothing store that has graced Bloor and Yonge since 1901 doesn’t bode well for that corner’s future.

Christopher Hume – Toronto Star

If we treated people the way we treat buildings, murder would be legal.

Comment: Amen brother.

The comparison is absurd, of course; bricks and mortar are not blood and guts. But on the other hand, buildings do possess character, even personality. They are part of our lives, for better or worse. We form relationships with them. We avoid some, seek out others. Most we barely notice.

Comment: And we allow architectural holocausts on a continuous basis. Witness the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Stollerys - old
Stollery’s, which has occupied the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor since 1901, was in the last category. There was never anything particularly engaging about the two-storey structure, let alone exciting. On the other hand, its handsome exterior carvings, limestone cladding and large display windows were a reminder of just how urban the Edwardians were, how they valued the street and the importance of putting the best face forward.

So to see Stollery’s vandalized by its new owner, Sam Mizrahi, is enough to make a militant preservationist out of even the most indifferent Torontonian. Though the city gave the developer a demolition permit last week, and the tear down is perfectly legal, his arrogance is hard to take. To send in the wrecking crews on a weekend — before the hoardings are even up — is as succinct a way as possible to give the city the middle finger.

Comment: It is the distinct lack of giving a s**t that really gets me. The rush to destroy, why?

Would it have hurt to wait a while to see if anyone came up with something brilliant?

Stollerys - current
The misguided landlord has sent all the wrong messages and made himself the latest in a long line of developers whose contempt for the city is more than returned.

But Mizrahi isn’t the point. Stollery’s has been living on borrowed time for years. It happened to occupy one of the city’s most important corners, the intersection of two subway lines and the start of the Mink Mile. Even with its third-floor addition, Stollery’s was clearly a retail and urban anachronism. Though it was never the most important example of architecture in Toronto, the building deserved consideration and respect as a piece of heritage.

The city, as usual, arrives on the scene just after the crowbars have been brought out and destruction underway. The heritage designation process is so slow, haphazard and inadequate that it might as well not exist. The Stollery story has unfolded countless times.

Comment: Heritage is simply a joke.

It doesn’t help that the city hands out demolition permits like parking tickets. Not only does heritage not enter the picture, the city doesn’t even need to know what will get built next. It amounts to a de facto system of approval that allows demolition to proceed with few, if any, questions asked.

Stollerys - demo
The rush to reduce Stollery’s to rubble is unseemly, disrespectful and, without sidewalk protection, even dangerous. Such business practices won’t win Mizrahi any admirers.

Comment: But it won’t stop him. Few enough of us care what he did, it simply doesn’t mean anything.

Clearly, that doesn’t bother him, and in his defence, he claims to have hired British superstar architect Norman Foster to design his project. Let’s hope Foster comes through. His design had better be good, not just because Yonge and Bloor is a major corner, but because his client has a lot to make up for.

So does the city. Chances are that even if it wasn’t thoroughly inept, the city would have settled, as it always does, for the retention of a façade or two. How many condos in Toronto include the front wall of some unfortunate 19th-century predecessor? In this case, there’s nothing else to save.

But the corner demands more than a remnant of a store that has been marooned by time and the city of which it is part.

All we can hope for now is that city hall suddenly lurches back to life and does what it can to ensure that what replaces Stollery’s isn’t as tacky as its builder’s behaviour.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.