Mount Dennis was in the news this week, with a flattering portrait by David Nickle.
Robert Caplan is optimistic about the future of Mount Dennis — and has been for a long time now, even as he admits that right now, the sparse business district at Weston Rd. and Eglinton Ave. W. is not much to look at.
That may soon change. In 2021, the Mount Dennis station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is slated to open and the owners of the rundown storefronts along Weston will almost certainly make some modifications.
But for now?
“The whole street is waiting for the development to happen — to see what’s going to happen,” said Caplan, who owns Caplan Appliances and is chair of the Mount Dennis Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Only a month ago, The Star published an article that said Mount Dennis is the “most affordable area of the city”.
The city will be looking at part of Weston to determine whether it has a unique character, and whether is should be recommended for conservation and enhancement. The WHCD will be having a meeting on August 21 to discuss the new areas and next steps.
The effort to create heritage districts in Weston has been going on for quite a long time. It started in 2004, and the first phase was completed in 2007, with the creation of a conservation district in two areas around Weston Road.
Phase Two was to include the area between Rosemount, Pine, Church, and MacDonald.
Now, however, the city has taken over planning of conservation districts, instead of leaving it in the hands of community groups. The WHCD says that the city is “ready to proceed with the study of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, Phase II, with the intention to go by the old boundary to Elm Street.“¹
Heritage conservation districts are “historically or culturally significant and require special care and attention in the planning process to ensure that they are conserved.”
A heritage designation limits what people can do with their properties. Construction and restoration must be done with neighbourhood guidelines, and demolition is not allowed under most circumstances—including by neglect.
¹ My emphasis. Also, full disclosure, I live just past Elm Street.
Frances Nunziata’s office says that the derelict houses at 2270 and 2274 Weston road, which have been an eyesore and hazard for more than a decade, will finally be demolished to make way for a 12-storey apartment building.
After years and years of waiting, an application has finally been submitted to the City to demolish the two derelict houses located at 2270 and 2274 Weston Road, which have long been an eyesore in the community for many years. I am pleased to update you that a demolition permit has been submitted to tear down these two buildings. In 2015, the owners received approval to construct a 12-storey apartment building. The project is going through the site plan approval process.
The short story: everybody is on board for a more prosperous, better-connected Mount Dennis. Alex Bozikovic wrote in the Globe:
Spread new growth across the neighbourhood. Focus on jobs and mix up jobs with some housing. Bring lots of people to live near transit. It sounds simple, but would require some changes to the city’s usual planning approach.
Interestingly, many locals are on board with this agenda. Mike Mattos, who heads the Mount Dennis Community Association, says the group largely welcomes the ULI proposals and, in places, development. “We need more people in the area,” he told me. “We don’t think the retail strip is going to survive with the current population. And we need more of the right kinds of jobs.” With all that, and some inventive policy, this could become a more prosperous place without becoming any less interesting.
Options For Homes is a non-profit condo developer with a building called ‘The Humber‘ under construction at 10 Wilby Crescent in Weston. To say that they are bullish on Weston is a bit of an understatement but they have a history of choosing and building in ‘up and coming’ neighbourhoods, calling themselves urban pioneers. Here is their take on the Weston neighbourhood.
The Weston Village developers sent along some details about the homes they have planned at the corner of Church and Weston.
To my untrained eye, the homes look very nice. The smaller homes (Spruce, Hampshire and Willow) are 1250-or-so square feet and start at $710,000. The most expensive homes (Everton, Beech, Hampton and Willington) are about $1,050,000, and around 1850 square feet.
The largest homes are the townhomes. They are between 2100 and 2200 square feet and fall in the middle of the price range.