Wychwood barns proposal unveiled

The Wychwood TTC car barns site has been home to controversy for years, but now the city is in the process of making it into a home for artists, which will include a park, community space, an arts centre, a garden and live-in studio space for local artists.

Artscape, a non-profit arts group, will lease part of this city-owned site, south of St. Clair Ave. West, near Christie St., and will be presenting its plan to the community. Artscape’s plan incorporates four of the five historic barns built in 1913-1921, which once housed streetcars.

The studio barn will contain 26 affordable live-in work units for local artists, 15 studios and some community space. The covered street barn will be a multi-purpose area for receptions and exhibits, and will be open to the public. The community barn will consist of 10-20 community rehearsal and studio spaces, some offices and public washrooms. And the green barn will contain a greenhouse, a sheltered outdoor garden, community space and an outdoor oven for community use. No parking is proposed for the site.

City park staff will design the remainder of the 1.9-hectare site in consultation with the local residents.

The Goldman Group, a developer planning to build a 22-storey building at nearby Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. West, will donate $1-million for the "adaptive reuse" of the Wychwood car barns. When a developer seeks to build over and above what is currently permitted on a particular site, the city can negotiate a community benefit in exchange for development approval. To find out more about the Goldman development proposal, see the article in this issue.

St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc plans to hold two separate meetings at the end of October, one concerning the park space and another regarding the Artscape proposal. Call Mihevc’s office at 416-392-0208 to find out more.

The Wychwood barns site has been the focus of heated debate since at least 1999. Back in 2000, the site became an election issue for councillor Mihevc, who promised during his campaign to make the city-owned site "100 percent park." Since then, the barns were studied and found to be worth keeping, and years of public meetings ensued.