A major intersection in Liberty Village will see a facelift in the upcoming years. Liberty Village is a unique area of Toronto, with a rich historical past and has undergone some major gentriciation.
Quick Liberty Village History
(some information adapted from Thorben Wieditz)
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Originally, this area was the home to the French colonization in the 1800s. Throughout the 1700s this land changed ownership from the French and was purchased by the British. During the late 1800s, the provincial government created separate men’s and women’s prisons. The men’s prison was near King St. W and Strachan, with the women’s prison near Lamport Stadium.
From 1870 until 1915, Liberty Street, as we know it today, was the first street that former prisoners were released onto after serving their time. During the World Wars, this area was very industrial and select operations were in production until the late 1980s and very early 1990s. Artists started flocking to the Liberty Village area during the end of the industrial shut down because rent for studio space was inexpensive. The neighborhood did start to gain a slightly shady reputation as many buildings were abandoned and not much modernization was then invested into the neighborhood. On the contrary, during the late 1980s and 1990s, there was more green space and more room to explore.
Real estate gurus saw Liberty Village as a place for potential investment and started scooping up properties at low costs. Officially in 1994, the Mayor at the time, Barbara Hall, gave the area municipal deregulation of land uses. This meant that the area could start to be redeveloped. Our neighborhood, know as Liberty Village, started to officially be referred to it in the media beginning in 1999.
Atlantic Avenue Major Redevelopment in the Works
Three new commercial developments will start construction at the intersection of Liberty Street and Atlantic Avenue beginning in late 2016 and early 2017. The building sitting at 58 Atlantic Avenue Liberty Street is expected to be 12 stories high, with the existing structure of 25 Liberty remaining the focal point (adapted from Urban Toronto). The first two floors would be for retail businesses and public common space. The remaining 10 stories would be multi-purpose commercial space. Underground parking is also in the plans however it is undetermined how many levels at this point. Architecture consultation on this project was provided Sweeney &Co Architects and the engineering work was done by Blackwell.
Both 60 and 80 Atlantic Avenue redevelopments will be completed under the developer of Hullmark and utilizing Quadruple Architects. They will not be as high as 58 Atlantic Avenue. The building at 60 Atlantic will be 3 stories and offer boutique office and retail space. What is unique about this development, is that it will maintain the original structure of the main entrance. Dating back 1898 when it was originally built for a wine company, it also was utilized as a storage facility for Eaton’s and more recently as an artist studio space and collaborative office space (info from Urban Toronto). Much of the original structure will be preserved and integrated into the new design.
The first timber frame development in Toronto, of this generation, will be built at 80 Atlantic Avenue at 5 stories high. With the creative design and architecture being incorporated into the plans for this new building, it will certainly set new benchmarks for the rest of Toronto to follow. As it currently sits now, the site of 80 Atlantic Avenue is a parking lot. Liberty Village will not significantly lose out on parking availability because of this new development, since there are still two Green P lots and multiple other private parking lots.
As the Liberty Village BIA has coined the neighborhood as being “Forged in Creativity” and as the creative and tech hub of Toronto, these new commercial developments certainly add proof to these statements. We are entering an exciting new era for Liberty Village, and time will only tell what other new developments will arise.