The dilapidated Waverly Hotel located at 484 Spadina Avenue is to become a privately-owned student residence, with the adjacent Silver Dollar Room, a club and music venue, being restored as a heritage site.
The City of Toronto reached a resolution with the property owner, Wynn Group of Companies on the redevelopment of the two buildings, bringing a dispute that lasted nearly two years to a close.
The resolution comes as U of T anticipates the need for over 2,200 new residence spaces by 2020.
According to Althea Blackburn-Evans, director of news & media relations at U of T, the university is following the lead of other post-secondary institutions in North America by increasing residence spaces in partnership with the private sector. Examples of such on-going projects include the space leased to Knightstone Capital at 245 College Street, which is currently under construction. There is also a project in the proposal stage at the corner of Spadina and Sussex.
The university, however, is not involved with the Hotel Waverly project.
Joe Cressy, city councillor for Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina; Ausma Malik, trustee for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Ward 2; and Tim Grant, chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, struck the resolution.
The new settlement confirms the construction of a 15 storey building, as well as provides for heritage restoration of the Silver Dollar Room. The restoration is set to include adjustments designed to “emphasize the architecture of the Silver Dollar Room and the surrounding area.”
In exchange, the city will waive an agreement made under Section 37 of the Ontario Planning Act. Section 37 is a provision that allows cities to negotiate for funds from the developer that then go to public amenities and projects in exchange for changes to current zoning policies.
The proposal was brought to the city in August 2013 and required an amendment to a zoning by-law due to the proposed height of the building. The development’s original height restriction was 16 metres and the proposed height of the new building was 70 metres.
Local residents have heavily criticized the proposed size of the building. The Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) rejected the proposal at the beginning of last year. The Toronto District School Board accepted $1 million in exchange for not opposing the proposal at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), a provincial tribunal with the power to overrule municipal planning decisions. The controversial move upset parents at the nearby Lord Lansdowne Public School, who feared that the shadow from the building would be cast on the school playground.
The Wynn Group appealed the application with the OMB, which led to a hearing in November. In the months leading up to the hearing, the city designated the Silver Dollar Room under the Ontario Heritage Act, a designation that TEYCC requested in 2011. Two years later, the Wynn Group announced plans to redevelop the site. The heritage designation request also included the Waverly Hotel; however, city staff did not deem it worthy.