Goodbye to big old warehouse

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Public Works has a huge old warehouse that runs from 1010 Somerset (just west of the Plant Rec Centre) all the way south to Gladstone Avenue, along the east side of the OTrain corridor. Cycling along the OTrain pathway offers a closeup view of the brick and concrete building, most well known amongst locals for the “stone graveyard” at the Somerset end.

It is quite difficult to see the east side of the warehouse, as it backs up against the numerous dead end streets of Little Italy. The neighbours abutting the warehouse itself have formed their own micro-association called BLISS – Believe in Livable Sidestreets – to protect themselves against the predations of evil city planners. They’ve had some successes, but the city has managed to designate all the family housing for possible conversion to apartments. Compleat neighbourhoods don’t necessarily include families with children.

Before the warehouse was built, probably in the 1940’s, it was a field along the railway tracks. In the 30’s, the circus trains used to stop alongside the site. Locals can still tell you of elephants being “walked” around the block from Somerset to Preston to Gladstone …

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But the expanding need of the federal government for warehouse space to store pencils and red ribbon, eventually dwarfed the needs of the circus, and the really big shew moved to Parliament Hill…

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The building has been vacant for a number of years, except for “dead storage”, rendered unsafe to work in due to structural deterioration. Near the north end, one entire middle bay of the building was removed a decade ago, leaving a big hole.

The City has been conducting a Gladstone Community Design Plan (CDP) that includes the site. Public Works showed an amazing alacrity in cooperating with the city on the plan. They have agreed that the Feds will keep the north (Somerset) section of the site; and the south section, accessed from Gladstone, will be sold off.

There are three guesses as to what the City plan designated the site for.

Yup, high rises.

In the snap below, from a draft CDP, the Tory- blue buildings indicate potential PWGSC building sites; the brown and red ones on the “far side” of the OTrain track ( with a bookend set of buildings shown on the nearer western side too) would be built by developers. Development charges would pay for the Gladstone OTrain Station in 2023 … unless that gets delayed.

option 1, full plan but mostly north,



The PWGSC buildings have about the same likelihood of being built out, in my opinion, as the two office towers the Feds planned at the corner of Booth and the JAM parkway, to put the “mixed” into the mixed use plan for the Flats. Instead they remain debris-ridden pits, enhancing the view from the Claridge condos there, until such time as the NCC drops $3million of our dollars into a “bold driveby experience”. Which will be temporary, of course.

So don’t expect the stoneyard at the Somerset end of this warehouse site to disappear any time soon.

At the last minute, the City withdrew the CDP from its schedule for “fine tuning” with stakeholders. Since they haven’t been talking to the community, I presume that means developers and PWGSC. The site is on bedrock, and one proposal, I gather, is for the proposed buildings to not have underground parking, but rather the first floors of the buildings would be above ground garages. But we don’t know for sure yet, the City ain’t saying.

But with the election over, maybe lips will loosen.

I must say I am very surprised at the speed PWGSC has been working here. From agreeing to reassess their need for the site, to participating in the planning process, to issuing a demolition contract, it has been “warp speed” compared to their usual drift. I gather that PWGSC will be selling the site themselves, not through Canada Lands Co, which makes the sale even faster and perhaps includes an “incentive” or commission back to PWGSC by cutting out CLC. I wonder if there is a push to “book” the sale in time to turn the revenue into a pre-election tax refund, given the balanced budget etc etc.

Let the record show I accept cash, cheques, and money transfers.

Finally, for your amusement, look at this picture and notice the large block of concrete hanging down by a string, waiting to bop someone on the head. We could start a contest as to who we want to walk there …

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3 thoughts on “Goodbye to big old warehouse

  1. “They’ve had some successes, but the city has managed to designate all the family housing for possible conversion to apartments. Compleat neighbourhoods don’t necessarily include families with children.”

    So families with children don’t ever live in apartments?

  2. Long ago I decided there was something wrong with me: I always enjoy that path by those buildings and part of the ambiance I like is the crumbling old brick buildings. Maybe my first four years living in Lebreton Flats imprinted factories and older homes on my brain and I feel at home around these scenes. Who knows. Interesting to see what kind of replacements will end up along the Otrain there. As for who I would like to see under that dangling concrete…oh that is tempting but I will resist thinking about it.

  3. Yeah, it’s a shame the warehouse couldn’t be repurposed, but PWGSC seems ready to label things “beyond their usable lifetime” at the drop of a hat.
    That said, the skeleton of a plan for the area seems reasonable to me. Bring on the density, particularly when it lies right on top of a proposed future LRT stop. I’m curious to see what land prices, if any, would cause the Preston Hardware folks to consider relocating…

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