Last month we were surprised to find out that an application had been made to convert the Garden Court Apartments, 1477 Bayview Ave., to a condominium (and the tenants were not informed).
This month we were equally surprised to hear that on April 29 the tenants of the Talbot apartments, Kel-vingrove, Glenleven and Strathavon (1325, 1351 and 1365 Bayview) were served with a Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at the End of Term For Conversion, Demolition or Repairs, effective August 31.
The landlord wants all tenants out in order to upgrade the interiors. Could this be stage one in a multi-part process, attempting to turn these modest rental units into high end condos?
The red brick, green roof apartments were built by Henry Howard Talbot, the developer-mayor of Leaside, in Georgian Revival style and have been designated as heritage buildings by the city.
From 2006 to 2010 the owner tried to demolish the three properties and build condominium townhouses and a new apartment building to replace the rental units. The tenants, with the support of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association and the City of Toronto won a rare victory at the Ontario Municipal Board. The owner then appealed to the Superior Court. However the tenants, the Leaside Property Owners’ Association and the City of Toronto, ultimately prevailed.
The Talbot apartment properties are significant not only because they are heritage designated (along with Garden Court they are still the only protected buildings representative of Layer IV- Late Industrial and Tract Development in Leaside) but because they provide relatively affordable accommodation.
There are several reasons to be concerned if the buildings are emptied of tenants. In particular, empty buildings which are not protected by adequate security are subject to break-ins and possible vandalism. Requiring tenants to vacate can amount to a permanent eviction – many, particularly the elderly, are unable to bear the stress of relocating, moving out, and moving back.
Henry Howard Talbot recognized the need for a range of housing types and affordability when he built apartments, quadraplexes and single family houses in Leaside. It is important to maintain Leaside as a community with a diversity of housing types and affordability.
One positive reflection at least from a heritage perspective is that the interest in upgrading the interiors on the part of the owners reminds us that heritage designation generally increases land values, not the reverse as claimed by some interests.