History and Places
Portland crossing to get shorter, beach road safer
By Randy Billings
The city is expected to do work along the Eastern Promenade this summer to make pedestrians safer. The plan includes narrowing and realigning Cutter Street in an effort to slow traffic heading to the beach and boat launch.
The project, which will go before the city’s Historic Preservation Board on Wednesday, includes a drastic reduction in pavement at the intersection of Cutter Street and Eastern Promenade road. The 100-foot-wide expanse would be narrowed to about 40 feet, and a pulloff area for tour buses would be created.
Bobinsky said the project, projected to cost $100,000 and expected to begin after July 4, will be in the Maine Department of Transportation’s request for bids to repave a section of the Eastern Prom from Morning Street to Washington Avenue.
Few major accidents have been reported at that intersection, but the potential is there, Bobinsky said.
The Friends of the Eastern Promenade is welcoming the proposed changes. President Diane Davison said the current configuration makes Cutter Street seem like an-off ramp that doesn’t require drivers to slow down. “The traffic just moves way too fast,” she said.
Safety concerns were raised in the 2004 Eastern Promenade Master Plan, which called the intersection confusing. “Cutter Street appears to be an extension of promenade drive, not a separate intersection,” it said.
The project also would reduce the width of Eastern Promenade road, from 52 feet to 38 feet, near the bend by Fort Allen Park. Pavement on the inland side of Eastern Promenade road would be replaced with grass and curbing.
Davison said commercial vehicles traveling from the Old Port to the East End boat launch, where they load supplies and equipment on barges, is the biggest safety concern.
“(The trucks) really fly right through that intersection,” Davison said. “Narrowing that intersection will make it safer for all park users.”
The crosswalk reduction from 100 feet to 40 feet shouldn’t cause problems for recreational boaters who use the East End boat launch, Bobinsky said.
The project is related to restoration work planned for this spring at Fort Allen Park, which includes replacing the rotting wooden cannon carriages, repairing a wrought iron fence, sprucing up a bandstand and improving pathways to better incorporate three war memorials.
Narrowing the Cutter Street intersection will add green space next to the Jacob Cousins War Memorial, a bronze plaque on a boulder commemorating the city’s first Jewish soldier killed in World War I.
Former church to house actors
By KATE TARALA
The theatre company’s previous home in Hunter Street’s Civic Arcade is set for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the city block that also contains the derelict Civic Hotel.
The former church, in Watt Street, had been flagged for redevelopment as a restaurant and wedding reception venue but will now house Tantrum Theatre for the next three years.
Tantrum will be joined by Performing Arts Newcastle at the site, which includes the church, a hall and adjoining buildings.
With its high wooden ceilings, wrought iron detail and stained glass windows, the building will add something special to the setting of theatrical productions.
Tantrum Theatre has cultivated a reputation as Newcastle’s leading theatre company for young people with bold performances and new works.
Tantrum general manager and tutor Mitchell Reese hoped the site would become an arts hub, with the potential for another group to move in.
‘‘It is a brilliant space to hold workshops, performances and rehearsals,’’ he said.
U.K. architect Will Alsop designs Yonge St. condo for North Toronto: Hume
Midrise condo planned for Yonge south of Lawrence offers a new vision of 21st-century city and its architecture.
By Christopher Hume
Normally, the launch of yet another condo on Yonge St. would pass unnoticed, except by the neighbours. But it will be hard not to notice the project proposed for Yonge St. and Strathgowan Ave. To begin with, it’s designed by Will Alsop, the British architect best known in these parts for the “flying tabletop,” officially the Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design University.
That’s the McCaul St. building suspended on a series of brightly coloured steel columns. No one who has seen it will be surprised to hear the condo is, well, somewhat out of the ordinary. That would be true in any part of town, but in leafy North Toronto, Alsop’s offering will not only turn heads, it will wrench necks.
That’s what architects love to do, of course, not that most ever get the chance. In Alsop’s case, however, he has become the go-to guy for clients who want something unique, even provocative. Though easy to forget, Alsop’s buildings are much more practical than they appear. Putting OCAD University on legs, for example, meant not having to close and/or move the school, saving time and money.
But for most, what we see is what we get. The Strathgowan condo will be midrise — 10 storeys — but beyond that, it’s hard to describe. For starters, the building is wrapped in a steel screen, patterned, pierced and perforated to resemble a lacy architectural façade. Vaguely reminiscent of Jean Nouvel’s exquisite Arab World Institute in Paris, Alsop’s condo also has the feel of one of those French Quarter buildings in New Orleans with the ornate wrought iron balconies.
“It’s diaphanous on the lower levels,” Alsop explains. “We’re using a woven stainless steel. It’s more like fabric than steel. You can detail it as if it were PVC.”
Even more striking, the building is divided horizontally into two sections. The bottom, seven storeys tall, slopes outward as it drops down to Yonge St. The top part, a three-floor rectangular structure that extends beyond the base, bears a slight resemblance to the OCAD U tabletop.
It looks like nothing ever seen in Toronto; yet there’s no reason to think it won’t belong, especially on a stretch of Yonge that has very little identity of its own. The most memorable piece of architecture here is the Glengrove Hydro Substation, a 1931 neo-gothic beauty that outshines its neighbours, including the many apartment buildings that are the most distinctive feature of Yonge south of Lawrence Ave.
“The client was looking for something a little different,” Alsop says, straight-faced. “She also wanted to do a different type of interior. You can slide inner walls so that bedrooms become balconies. You can open your whole apartment to the outside. We’re trying to keep the units as open and flexible as possible.” That client, former architect Bianca Pollak, confirms she did indeed want to do something out of the ordinary.
“I believe this part of Yonge needs something,” she explains. “I see this as an opportunity to do something. When Will is involved, the results are always extraordinary. We’re all very excited.”
It’s still early days, Pollak makes clear, and the project has yet to be submitted to the city for approval. Though the neighbours might be shocked at first, they will quickly get over that. Besides, Pollak plans to add one full floor of public parking underground. That will appease many, though the 10 storeys will undoubtedly be an issue, too. In truth, nothing less makes sense in this part of 21st-century Toronto.
Hemingway gate to be auctioned on eBay
The gate hung at the side entrance of the property where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived in the 1930s and wrote many of his classic works.
It is believed to have been installed in 1935, when a brick privacy wall was built around the Whitehead Street home Hemingway occupied with his wife and sons.
In 1964, the property became a museum honoring the author. The gate was replaced in 2011 with one that better protected the nearly 50 cats that reside on the property. The original was donated to Helpline, a non-profit local crisis hotline, to be auctioned for fundraising.
Open viewing at luxury Dore home
It is fitted with the most up-to-date technology including audio system, digital radio, security system and under-floor heating and is covered by a 10-year building warranty.
The front door opens into a reception hall leading to other ground floor rooms. A formal lounge or cinema room incorporates a 50in plasma screen, DVD and speaker system. Glass sliding doors lead to an open plan kitchen, dining area and family lounge.
The kitchen area is fitted with contemporary high-gloss units with granite worktops. Integrated appliances include a fridge, freezer, dishwasher, wine cooler, a range of conventional, steam and microwave ovens, plate warmers and a five-zone induction hob.
The dining area has porcelain-tiled floor and sliding doors to the back garden. The lounge also has folding doors to the garden; focal point is a stone feature fireplace. There is a study, a utility room and a cloakroom with wc.
Stairs rise to a galleried landing leading to a master bedroom suite including a Jacuzzi air bath and rain head shower.
There are two more bedrooms, one of them with en-suite bathroom and Juliet balcony, a fourth bedroom or study and a family bathroom with luxury white suite by Roca.
More stairs rise to a second floor where there are two further bedrooms, both en suite. Outside is a block-paved front garden screened by stone walls, wrought iron railings and laurel hedging. This leads to a generous garage with electric doors.
The back garden is fully enclosed, comprising stone-flagged terraces, shaped lawn with timber sleepers, seating areas, awater feature, planted borders and ornamental trees.