When I wrote this past summer about the closing of Harry’s Char-Broil and its location in Kinhurst Plaza, I was a little disappointed that I was not able to locate photographs of the shopping centre soon after completion, an architect, or some more specific information about the proposal itself. It is also true that when I wrote it, I did not have the opportunity to get into the City of Toronto Archives, which limited the resources available to me.
I recently had occasion to rectify that and paid the Spadina Road facility a visit. Aside from being greeted by a most helpful staff, and receiving the files I ordered quickly, I also learned that the City of Toronto Council Minutes are fantastically detailed and incredibly useful. In the case of the development of Kinhurst Plaza, the minutes contained a number of useful documents.
On April 27, 1959, through company lawyer Wilfred Wolman, Belmont Construction after having purchased 1433, 1433A, 1435, 1441, and 1443 King Street West, filed for a rezoning of the properties from R4-V1 to C3-V3 (ie. residential to commercial) in order to construct a grocery store and shopping centre that would serve as a “benefit and convenience to the entire area”1City of Toronto. Appendix A to the Minutes of City Council, 1959. Volume 1. (Toronto: Carswell, 1960): 1864. After having discussed the issue with Mr. Petcher of the Planning Board, Wolman submitted another letter on May 29, adding the premises at 158 Springhurst and and changing the request from C3-V3 to C1-V1.2Ibid.
Construction of the new Dominion Store and office building required demolition of the four 19th-century duplexes.3The City of Toronto Archives holds a small number of photographs of the duplexes, though they are held by the archives under the copyright of Hayashi Studio and I have not reproduced them here. They were not much longer for the world as it was: the R4-V1 rezoning was completed just weeks before, a nod to the residential pressures in Parkdale that I referred to previously. In the May 29th letter, Wolman hit all the right notes: Jameson had seen an unprecedented number of apartments constructed in the last few years, the area was growing rapidly, and a compact and reasonable shopping centre was a necessity.4Toronto, Surpa, 1865.
The City was, of course, happy with the proposal. The Parkdale Planning District was expected to increase by 2,000 individuals by 1980 (from 47,000 to 49,000: a figure which was, doubtlessly, exceeded). Given that the “Urban Renewal Report recommended 0.625 acres of local commercial land per 1,000 population,” it was a virtual slam dunk.5Ibid, 1867. That the proposal was less than one acre for an area with a population much greater than 1,000. A place to pick up groceries, do some banking, or bring in that 1959-standard white dry cleaning was most definitely a necessary feature.6Ibid, 1867-8. On the traffic front, the city’s Traffic Division was satisfied that the signalized intersection of King and Jameson was sufficient to accommodate the expected increase in activity.7Ibid, 1868. It was then recommended that the request be granted.8Ibid, 1869.
Something that I found to be of interest was located in a supplemental report that was submitted to council on June 10. Of the top three commercial (retail) uses, two were clothing. The top commercial use in the Parkdale area was “tailors and clothing”, the second was groceries and the third shoes.9Ibid, 1870. Unsurprisingly, for an area directly adjacent to the industrial lands directly to east and the north, the top three services were restaurants, offices, and launders.10Ibid, 1871. The public and institutional presence was somewhat limited, with two churches, one library, and one police detachment.11Ibid.
The plan, which boasted more than 27,000 square feet of office space, parking for 92 cars, a central pedestrian walkway, and still not exceeding four storeys was considered a winner. The city’s Committee on Buildings and Development was suitably impressed with Belmont’s proposal. The original plan had room for 48 cars and the final room for 92. The reason? 152-156 Springhurst were acquired by the developers in the interim, which expanded the parking lot considerably. Combine all that with an agreement to preserve certain trees, and the proposal was a winner. The final submission was sent off on September 30 and the committee recommended that it be adopted.12City of Toronto. Appendix A to the Minutes of City Council, 1959. Volume 2. (Toronto: Carswell, 1960): 2279-80. While it has been shorn of its name (and the Globe and Star make it clear that “Kinhurst Plaza” never did take off), Belomont’s shopping plaza remains an important feature to Parkdale today.
|↥1||City of Toronto. Appendix A to the Minutes of City Council, 1959. Volume 1. (Toronto: Carswell, 1960): 1864.|
|↥3||The City of Toronto Archives holds a small number of photographs of the duplexes, though they are held by the archives under the copyright of Hayashi Studio and I have not reproduced them here.|
|↥4||Toronto, Surpa, 1865.|
|↥12||City of Toronto. Appendix A to the Minutes of City Council, 1959. Volume 2. (Toronto: Carswell, 1960): 2279-80.|