Associate News Editor
Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam revealed a plan to revitalize the Yonge Street strip between Dundas and Gerrard on Friday, March 11.
The meeting brought together city councillors, community members and Ryerson faculty and staff to discuss the future of Yonge Street.
The area is under talks to open as a pedestrian laneway. Similar to the closure of Gould Street this year, there was overwhelming support in favour of pedestranizing this strip on Yonge.
This closure would be the second time Yonge Street has been closed down as it had been a pedestrian only street in the 1970s.
This move would be introduced as a pilot project in the summer months, said Wong-Tam.
If the pilot project doesn’t go through, Yonge Street instead might see larger sidewalks and bike lanes.
Wong-Tam also said the mixture of heavy commercialization at the Yonge-Dundas end into the smaller storefronts further up the street doesn’t allow the area to create a feel of unity within the community.
Additional retail will be introduced as Ryerson unveils the Student Life Centre, to be located at the north corner of Yonge and Gould streets next month.
Ryerson VP Administration and Finance Julia Hanigsberg said Sheldon Levy is pushing to bring in an Apple store into the base of the building.
The now vacant space from the Yonge and Gould fire, would be an ideal spot for a new Dundas subway entrance that could ease congestion. This was recommended not only by Wong-Tam but by Ryerson adminstration including Hanigsberg.
The plan is nothing new to Ryerson as it was unveiled in Sheldon Levy’s master plan back in 2006, and originally slated for the North side of the Yonge and Gould corner.
With the now vacant lot the idea is much more feasible.
“If the city was in better financial standing, we’d be in construction now” said Wong-Tam.
Hangisberg said the university has no immediate plans to build on the Yonge and Gould Street fire area, but is interested in working with whoever is planning there.
If the area does become a subway entrance, Wong-Tam said the plan will not just be any old subway entrance, but will encourage an architecturally sound building.
“Yonge Street is not as attractive as it could be,” said Wong Tam.
The Yonge Street revitalization is headed by two architects, Marianne McKenna and Ken Greenberg, the same team behind Ryerson’s master plan.
A change in retailers will clean up the strip, introducing what Hanigsberg called ‘destination’ retail, An idea they believe would draw people to the area and provide the community with a better mix of retail.
Developers will be challenged because this particular strip of Yonge houses many of the remaining historical buildings.
The retail will aim to include stores that are conducive to student’s needs.
“No one will be wondering where Ryerson is anymore,” said Hanigsberg.