Bathurst Manor Plaza revamp in limbo

Four years on the city is still waiting for a revised plan from the developer

Four years after an initial proposal, city staff is still awaiting a revised plan from a developer that would see the long-crumbling Bathurst Manor Plaza revitalized into a mixed-use area with condos, townhouses and retail space.

“Once a revised submission is received we would review it and … determine what our recommendation would be to city council,” said Cassidy Ritz, a city planner handling the file.

It was close to the last municipal election in 2006 when the developer first proposed replacing the current shopping plaza with 150 stacked townhouses. At that time, the proposal was met with fierce opposition from the community.

“It was the largest community meeting I’ve ever had,” said outgoing councillor Mike Feldman. “We had a working group and unfortunately they didn’t have too many meetings because the developer kept stalling … The developer has been going very slowly on this project.”

After community input and feedback from city staff, several revised proposals of the plan were submitted by the developer. The latest came down in late June. It called for a six-storey, mixed-use building on the northeast corner of Wilmington Avenue and Overbrook Place with 179 residential units, as well as 44 townhouses and another mixed-use building of three to six storeys on the northwest corner of the site. Retail space would be included on the ground floor of the mid-rise buildings. A parking area would accommodate 595 cars.

The revised plan was followed by a community meeting the same month where residents gave feedback on the proposal. That feedback included ongoing concerns about traffic, parking and sewage capacity. As well, residents voiced concern about a drastic decrease in retail space.

“What we’ve heard from the community is that they like the plaza there, they like to have the stores there,” said Ritz. “If the site were to be redeveloped, they want to have drycleaners and banks, drugstores, grocery stores, coffee shops, that type of thing. That’s one of the great things about having the plaza there. They’re able to walk to those every day convenience needs.”

The plaza currently boasts 8,361 square metres of retail space (parking not included). The revised plan would reduce retail space to 1,858 square metres, roughly a quarter of the current space.

“People are shopping there now,” Feldman said. “The geographic constraint is such that it’s an isolated community. The island of retail is important because there are a lot of seniors. They could walk to shopping.”

However, he said, the plan could probably accommodate a small grocery store on the site. Although the plaza at one time housed a revolving door of grocery store tenants, none took root and that space has stood empty for a number of years.

“If I had my druthers, I’d like a small Sobeys, not a supermarket but a convenience store. And I think with kosher products, it would sell,” Feldman said.

The next step is a statutory public meeting, probably in February or March, following city staff’s expected report to council. Feldman said he expects the staff report to be positive.

About this article:

Posted: Oct 19 2010 4:28 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto

2 thoughts on “Bathurst Manor Plaza revamp in limbo

  • January 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    The Bathurst Manor area is quickly becoming one of the most desireable neighbourhoods in North York. Its central location, large lot sizes and proximity to transit appeals to many first time and downsizing buyers. It is unfortunate that the plaza has been left to deteriorate for so long. The elderly and young residents alike would greatly benefit from a plaza with a grocery store, services and medical professionals. Hopefully, this overhaul will be done in the near future satisfying the needs of this rapidly growing community.

  • October 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Bathurst Manor Plaza once served as the social as well as the retail hub of the thriving young Bathurst Manor community. From the sixties through the eighties it was a dynamic centre of the uniquely assertive post-war Toronto Jewish community. Surrounded by two synagogues and a virtually uniform Jewish population, Bathurst Manor Plaza served as a town square for the Kehilla. The plaza had many unique features catering to its host community. The Sunnybrook grocery store which archored the original plaza was was the first supermarket in Toronto to feature kosher meat and fish counters. Goodmans was a city-wide destination for newlyweds, THE place to buy dishes and house gifts. The first location of the innovative Israel’s Judaica bookstore opened in the plaza. The plaza was home to Rachel’s a kosher restaurant and prepared meat counter as well as Isaac’s Kosher bakery. Canada’s first kosher Country Style donut shop was found in this plaza as well as the award winning King David’s Falafel & Pizza. Metro Hardware, another major retailer was unique in that it was run by an extended family of Jews from India – a very exotic branch of the seed of Abraham. Demand for the services of the plaza was strong enough to justify two expansions of the original retail strip.

    Sadly, poor management compounded by retrogressive real estate tax laws and absent political and civic leadership slowly did the plaza. Over the past two decades retailers left the plaza one by one as the plaza’s future became murky. Sunnybrook Market, the mall’s anchor, closed and was left boarded up for well over a decade. The remaining tenants, at least those who were willing to remain were relocated sequentially, till section after section of the plaza werevacated, boarded up and then ultimately demolished. Retailers talked about be strung along on short term annual leases, unable to make any long term plans.

    There definately is a future for the site since the plaza sits in the virtual centre of one of the most rapidly appreciating real estate markets in Ontario. Numerous residents at several forums have strongly endorsed the desire to maintain a viable retal plaza in thier neighbourhood – and there are certainly enough local residents to support a community plaza. Others have sought the development of a condo development suited to the needs of the aging pioneer generation of owners of the Bathurst Manor. It is hoped that leadership can be found both in the development community and the local community to restore this vibrant hub to its former glory as a vital community resource and service.

    Leon Wasser MBA, P.Eng.
    Wasser Resources Inc.

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