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Ontario Construction News staff writer
The historic Dominion Foundry Complex will be partially saved under a new agreement with the City of Toronto and Ontario.
Residents fought to save the former industrial complex of four heritage buildings at 153-185 Eastern Ave., taking the province to court to halt the demolition that began earlier this year.
A Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) were released last week, presenting a vision of redevelopment that includes a commitment to conserve the cultural heritage value of the property, while also providing for affordable housing.
The new plan retains of many features and the allows demolition of others. Based on recommendations from Core Architects, the cleaning room and two machine shops will be preserved, while the warehouse and office buildings will be demolished. The two-storey high brick wall along Palace Street will also be retained.
The cultural heritage evaluation report completed by Stevens Burgess Architects, says Eastern Avenue is “one of the few streets remaining from the early nineteenth century.”
“The complex is one (of) the only remaining, albeit incomplete, examples of of an industrial complex borne of a period of railway expansion within the newly developed precinct: the West Don Lands. The property yields an understanding about the area as an industrial centre and the theme of railway expansion during the first half of the 20th century,” the report said.
“The property is a landmark within the West Don Lands community and the four buildings support a key linkage to the area’s industrial past.”
Residents’ group Friends of the Foundry says it is “completely happy” with the new plans because it protects large windows in the machine shops and the overall character of the site.
The group worked with several architects, urban designers, and affordable housing experts to develop a design proposal for the site in February, with a focus on creating hundreds of residential units, community space, retail areas and preserving the historic buildings.
Under the new agreement, future buyers of the property must “respect the vision for its redevelopment” and the city has the option to designate it under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and force future owners to enter into a Heritage Easement Agreement as a condition of future planning approvals.
The century-old buildings sit on a provincially-owned parcel of land that is being sold to an undisclosed buyer and redeveloped as a mixed-use housing development.
Demolition began in January but was halted after residents won a temporary court injunction. A hearing on the matter was later postponed to allow consultations between the province, the City of Toronto and the local community.