Current Developments Surrounding Roundhouse - Part 4 of 4
Click on each image for a closer look!
Here, we continue with part 4 of our 4 part exploration of developments around the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. The projects are numbered and can be located on the modified Google map. Many of the links below the name of each project will bring you to the UrbanToronto.ca website, which is an excellent database of ongoing construction projects in the city.
IMAGE #16 - Infinity 1 & 2
IMAGE #17 - Infinity 3 & 4
These were the first group of condos to be completed near the Roundhouse, with the 35-storey Infinity-1 opened in 2006 and the 14-storey Infinity-2 in 2007. In 2010, a number of fast food outlets and a convenience store opened in the retail podium along Bremner Blvd and these have been much appreciated by TRHA volunteers who previously had to hike south to Queen's Quay or north to Front Street when they wanted something to eat. The pod also has a sports bar for those who enjoy imbibing in establishments with 50 television screens. Farther south along Lower Simcoe Street, the 35-storey Infinity-3 is scheduled to be completed in 2012, with the 15-storey Infinity-4 following in 2013. The Infinity complex is arrayed around the newly created Grand Trunk Crescent, one of only two public homages to Toronto's most important railway for almost three-quarters of a century. The other homage, of course, is above the columns of the Front Street entrance to Union Station.
BREMNER TRANSFORMER STATION
IMAGE #18 - Looking northeast
From the Toronto Railway Historical Association's point of view, this is the most controversial of all the projects currently under development. In 1991, when the roundhouse was virtually abandoned, five years after the CPR had moved out, the City of Toronto entered into an Option to Purchase Agreement with Ontario Hydro that would allow them to register title on the west side of the Roundhouse as a placeholder until another site could be chosen for a new hydro transformer station. Unfortunately with rapid redevelopment of the rail lands, alternative sites quickly disappeared. So an understanding with Toronto Hydro came to the conclusion that if the transformer station could be built underground partially beneath the Machine Shop, that would protect the heritage fabric of this designated National Historic Site at grade level. This would also allow the Roundhouse tenants, including the museum, to co-exist with the hydro infrastructure. Despite an earlier agreement to make space at grade and above available for the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre, Toronto Hydro has reneged on this and the TRHA will soon be launching a public relations campaign to reclaim public exhibition space within the reconstructed Machine Shop.
After the negative public reaction to an engineering based design for the exterior site, the IBI Group, the heritage architects who were responsible for the redevelopment of the roundhouse, produced a design that was respectful of the heritage sensitivities present. A park on the corner will acknowledge the High Line, the CNR bypass that allowed freight trains to avoid Union Station. Large panels on the south and west sides of this area will display track plans of the Railway Lands at two historic periods. TRHA expects this same sensitivity to find its way to the treatment of the historic Machine Shop.
Click here to return to Part 1 of this series of posts.
Article and postings by Derek Boles, TRHA Historian