Honest Ed’s is Turning into Rental Housing Instead of Condos

Toronto’s reputation as a condo city is no joke.

Which is why everyone was worried when the demise of one of Toronto’s greatest landmarks, Honest Ed’s, was announced – it was assumed the historic property would be turned into more overpriced, unoccupied condos.

The strict rent control laws in the city mean things have been bleak for those who rent. The rental market is competitive as the demand for units can often exceed the availability. 

Since laws favour the tenant, being a landlord isn’t the most profitable situation, meaning less and less rental properties have been built over the years despite the constantly growing population.

With that in mind, when developer Westbank released their design plans for Honest Ed’s this week, some of us (see: renters) were pleasantly surprised.

The destruction of Toronto’s brightest building will not lead to more condos. Instead they’re developing a much needed residential neighbourhood of 40 buildings centered around a concept for a Mirvish Village Public Market.

Taking inspiration from New York City’s Flatiron District, they’re aiming to anchor the neighbourhood around a 29-story tower at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst.

Early complaints will undoubtedly be about the height of this building, but Annex residents should keep in mind that developers usually propose high numbers knowing they will likely get approved for less. The majority of buildings proposed come in at no more than 5 to 10 stories high.

As of now, they are noting that all of the potential 1,000 residential units planned for the site are going to be rentals, with more than half containing two or more bedrooms.

Most impressively, they’re proposing that Markham Street will be closed off to car traffic and morphed into a covered outdoor event space. They will be asking artists to pitch concepts for decorating the space.

The current laneway known as Honest Ed’s Alley will be transformed into a hub of local retail stores selected by the Centre for Social Innovation, with 57 live and work artist studios included in the plan. 

While the future of the famous Honest Ed’s sign is uncertain, they plan to honour the splashy Mirvish legacy by ensuring many of the new stores have their own memorable signs and unique exteriors. 

This sounds great to us, but it’s still the early phase of development.

Feedback will be given, changes will be happen, and it will be at least a few months before approvals are made and the design plan is finalized.  


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