Toronto Gibson Square Condominiums | 137.46m | 42s | Menkes | Rafael + Bigauskas

sum1

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A real tragedy is about to befall the historic Gibson House (also known as Gibson House Museum) on the west side of Yonge Street, just north of Park Home Avenue (between Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue). The house was built in 1851 and is in beautiful condition, inside and out. I had a great visit there years ago.

There is currently a large parking lot between the front of the house and Yonge Street, with a small side passage to the house from a park just to the south (the park extends from the house to Park Home Avenue). I've been hoping that, one day, the city politicians or, perhaps, some benefactor, might purchase this parking lot and convert it into parkland so that Gibson House would be reconnected to Yonge Street and "Uptown Toronto" could have a great, green, urban space - similar to Grange Park with "The Grange" as a backdrop. Maybe there could then be some cultural activities in the parkland, tying into the cultural/educational events at Gibson House.

Unfortunately, the politicians and planners, apparently lacking sense, sensibility and vision, allowed the land between Gibson House and the adjacent streets to be bought up by a developer. The developer was then given a massive increase in what he could build on the property, ensuring that the land would be too valuable ever to be purchased by the city. This, I understand, was all done a number of years ago - at a time when there might have been some small retail stores fronting Yonge Street instead of a parking lot.

Now, the developer (Menkes) is ready to proceed with "GIBSON SQUARE". There have been some recent public meetings and the latest proposal was given out at the last meeting. TWO 45 STOREY CONDOMINIUM TOWERS HAVE BEEN PROPOSED - ONE ON THE PARKING LOT BETWEEN THE FRONT OF GIBSON HOUSE AND YONGE STREET AND THE OTHER ON THE PARK TO THE SOUTH (the developer owns most of the park). UNBELIEVABLE!

I'm all for development, but not absolutely everywhere! Eventually all of Yonge Street in that area will be teeming with 30, 40 and even 50 storey buildings - which is fine by me. However, that one relatively small spot - Gibson House and its environs - should never, ever be developed! (Try to imagine Grange Park with a 45 storey tower in front of The Grange!!)

It's not really the developer's fault. One cannot really blame him for nabbing a great piece of property which the city politicians and planners didn't seem to want. Now all we can do is make the best of a very bad situation. I guess we will soon add Gibson House to the growing list of Toronto mistakes - headed by the placement of the rail lines and Gardiner Expressway between the city and Lake Ontario. Menkes is now finalizing their proposal before formally submitting it to the city. The only possible hitch is the city's desire for office space on the land instead of more condominiums.

By the way, there is also a tentative plan for a 16 story condo tower directly behind Gibson House. What's next - a condo tower ABOVE Gibson House? I wouldn't be surprised, given what has happened so far!

If you would like more information on Gibson House/Gibson House Museum, please visit the website: www.toronto.ca/culture/gibson_house.htm
 

maestro

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don't see a problem as long as the house and its property remain untouched. not a major cultural piece requiring a signature frontage, plenty of greenspace within a few blocks, and actually fun to find these types of places hidden away in the oddest of places
 

ShonTron

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Where is the old Dempster property?

I would like to see something similar to at least Campbell House (Queen and University), the property moved somewhere if it can be maintained properly and given exposure. It appears that North York has about as good a heritage conservation record as Mississauga.
 

scarberiankhatru

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sum1: The proposed condo behind Gibson House (the one to the west that will replace Park Willow's pool) isn't too bad at all. Fortunately, it won't really encroach on the house, just the museum, and it will apparently contain a multi-function room connected and dedicated to the museum. Unfortunately, it seems to be a Kirkor project...

If memory serves me correctly, Gibson House was to always have a view corridor to Yonge...an appropriate gesture since David Gibson was a major early surveyor and his house is one of the best preserved old houses in the city. Almost all of the Gibson House's property has been stripped away and built upon, and it will soon be hidden behind 132 cumulative storeys of apartments. Invisible from both Yonge and Park Home, this will deprive the house of all historical context. This is unforgivable, and we might as well move it to a Beecroft Parkette where it'll rot next to the Dempsey House.

In a perfect world, I, too, would prefer to see the parking lot become a park. I'd also like to see the Rose Garden stay. You could make a very good case that there most certainly isn't adequate parkland in the area, especially due to the thousands of new residents. This is easily the best place in North York Centre for a park of significant size.

Yet...this is also the best site in the area for a new office development and I'm tempted to forgive not converting it into parkland or giving it back to the Gibson Museum if office buildings were built. Generic parkland can go anywhere, especially the cruel little parkettes that always get built in condo zones, but Yonge frontage - across the street from a subway station - is perhaps too valuable for new parkland. It was a quirk of zoning history that gave us the Rose Garden, not a conscious effort to create a park. Just like the parking lot, the Rose Garden is simply a placeholder (after the Imperial Oil project fell through), which is a shame. I'm convinced that the city is allowing the Rose Garden to go to seed...the more decrepit it becomes, the easier it will be to let go of it.

I believe that the Yonge Hearts daycare was a Section 37 deal, part of converting the parking lot site from an office zone to residential and shifting around some Gibson House density...I don't know if the Rose Garden was included in that deal, so I'm not sure if it's zoned for condos or offices. Either way, the city doesn't own it and I doubt they'll cough up $30-40 million to buy a sliver of rogue roses. If the Rose Garden does actually get bulldozed (not sure if the city will allow it due to some substantial trees, but you never know) there's even less incentive to create parkland out of the parking lot.

The real tragedy is that we're going to get neither parkland nor office buildings in place of that parking lot, just condos.


seantrans - the Dempsey House has been moved to a parkette west of Gibson House, on Beecroft. I'm pretty sure it sits unused. I think they tried to turn it into a centre for kids with autism, but there were problems with plumbing and accessibility...memory doesn't serve me too correctly on that one, though.

The site just off Yonge is the best place for the Gibson House...it should not be moved. If the parking lot wasn't there, the house could have a presence on Yonge again, linked to the road through landscaping. The fence/hedge between the house and the rose garden could also go, opening the area up to the south. If they do build these 3 condos, I agree, we might as well move the house since it could become neglected if boxed inside a tomb of precast and amenities.
 

jmacmillan

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They could move the house down to the Martin Goodman trail next door to the old Joy gas station building and sell ice cream from it.
 

scarberiankhatru

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Or we could leave it alone and stop sodomizing the few historic buildings we have left in the suburbs.

You know, you can get ice cream from the house in Thomson Park in Scarborough...homemade 19th century ice cream.
 

Mike in TO

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Gibson Square by Menkes should launch in early 2008. Three or Four towers with 1,200 units. Located at 5170 Yonge Street (corner of Yonge and Park Home Road).
 

scarberiankhatru

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So does Menkes' Gibson complex have final approval? And will the complex include the park/Rose Garden along Park Home and/or some of the commercial properties along Yonge towards Ellerslie (such as the vacant McDonald's)? I haven't seen any recent reports/maps/plans/etc.
 
I

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Gibson Square by Menkes should launch in early 2008. Three or Four towers with 1,200 units. Located at 5170 Yonge Street (corner of Yonge and Park Home Road).

Can't wait for more medicore pseudo-asian architecture to dot this massively disappointing stretch of prime North Yonge Street! This area has got to be one of the biggest missed opportunities in town. big disappointment=big bucks for Menkes. Coincidence?
 

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