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National Post article:


Posted: June 18, 2008, 4:52 PM by Rob Roberts

City nixes condo tower on top of church

By Diana Mehta, National Post

City planners have deemed too adventurous a proposal to build high-end condos on top of an historic east-end church.

The Berkeley Playing Fields condominiums would see a 26-storey glass and steel structure extend over and above the 19-century Berkeley church on a downtroden stretch of Queen Street East at Berkeley Street.

A pre-application was turned down by city officials last week.

“We don’t typically take historical buildings and put that much density on top of it,” said Greg Pereira, a planner for the city, adding that the development’s extensive blending of old and new was only part of the problem. The city also disapproves of portions of the development that would extend out over the street, Mr. Pereira said, and the city is trying to keep that stretch of Queen Street at six to seven storeys.

“Berkeley Street is identified as a special street, a small-scale neighbourhood with a fine grain character. [The Playing Field’s] 26 storeys doesn’t reflect that,” he said.

In addition to 200 residential units, the Berkeley Playing Fields would feature a cafe and an environmental store on the ground level, a rooftop jazz club and a boutique hotel with 12 suites — each themed from a Hollywood movie — on the second floor.

Doug Wheler, the 70-year-old adman and would-be developer of the $100-million project, said he was willing to make a few tweaks to his “platinum” design to satisfy city requirements.

But Mr. Wheler, who helped design the project, said he was not willing to compromise its fundamental blending of old with new.

“We would never attempt to do something that wasn’t architecturally a beautiful counterpoint,” said the 70-year-old, who restored the Berkeley church for use as an events venue in 1999.

Treatment of the church roof in the condominium plans has been a focal point for the city.

According to the current architect’s drawings, the roof would be made transparent, to look up to a 60 by 100 foot screen fastened to the bottom of the residential units above. Those in the church below would see images of the surrounding neighbourhood projected on the gigantic screen from a camera on the roof of the Playing Fields.

“There will be images of the street, the sky, sailboats out in the lake,” said Mr. Wheler. “It’s an idea I’ve had for a while. I haven’t seen it done.”

But city officials weren’t as enthusiastic.

“When you start stripping old buildings away, you lose the feel of it. […] Maybe the roof is part of that character,” Mr. Pereira said.

The city is suggesting fewer storeys and a different relationship between the historic church and the new building. The project could still incorporate the church into the design, according to city officials, but high-rise condos are too imposing for the old-town-feel of that stretch of street.

But Mr. Wheler is in no hurry to begin construction on his pet project as he continues to work on his events business at the Berkeley church.

“The Playing Fields is not a project I want to rush” he said. “It’ll be complete before I die.”

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/.../city-nixes-condo-tower-on-top-of-church.aspx
 

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Juxtaposition of old and new can be very interesting, but this one just doesn't work for me either. In addition, those columns look like crap. I do like the building though.
 

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Mơמkƹ͛ƴ∆ґ&#4
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Agree with the above 2 comments. The incorporation of the church just seems "lazy", and completely smothers what is a decent building. I love this tower thing, but I'd rather it be built elsewhere (somewhere where the height does not have to be compromised), with maybe a park under it, OCAD-style.
 

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Yonge and Eglinton-Midtwn
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Again, if the space you own is there, then you would likely try to build on property you own. Its true there is lots of space in the area, but if you don't own that space it matters little to you.
 

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"The Ignorant Fool"
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Glad it was rejected. Ghastly.
Looks like they stuck the Church in an oversized carport.
 

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Again, if the space you own is there, then you would likely try to build on property you own. Its true there is lots of space in the area, but if you don't own that space it matters little to you.
and that is the reason why the city retains the option to refuse a project. If
they left everything up to the wishes of the property owner, there would be lots of unpleasant things happen. When one buys a piece of land with a Victorian church on it, there are certain limitations on development. This looks like a spectacular project.. they just need to invest in a different piece of land.
 
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