(Published in the Town Crier Aug. 13.)
A dozen Beach homes worth millions are now listed as heritage properties including several sites Toronto Community Housing plans to sell.
They sit on the former site of Scarboro Beach Amusement Park.
The 1920s-built homes on Wineva Avenue and Hubbard Boulevard are mix of publicly and privately owned sites facing Kew Balmy Beach.
Janice Hadfield lives in one of the properties on Wineva and says she’s pleased the home is on the heritage list.“These buildings are beautiful and have been there for almost 100 years and are representative of the Beach community,” said Hadfield.
While some of the pricey properties were vacated, about a decade ago Hadfield got Councillor Sandra Bussin’s support to stay on site.
Bussin says the homes are a significant part of the area’s past.
“These are an important cluster of properties that reflect the history of the beach and need to be held in a cluster rather than separated,” she said. “Listing these properties is important not just for the Beach, but the city.”
The area used to be a popular spot for summer vacation homes, but towards the end of the 1920s when these houses were built, the community attracted permanent residents.
Eliza J. Furniss developed a residential subdivision here next to Scarboro Beach Park, which was a popular amusement park in the early 1900s. The Edwardian Classicism and Art Deco properties are some of the last surviving examples of these lakefront homes.
TCH is in the process of selling the heritage homes.The average 2010 assessed value is $750,000 per house.
Community agencies are offered first dibs on buying these sites if they maintain them as affordable housing. If there are no takers, the homes will be sold in the open market, said Kyle Rooks, a TCH spokesperson.
“We are confident there is a strong market for these homes,” he said.
Community housing board member Paula Fletcher said a heritage listing will likely deter developers from buying up the properties.
“It would mean there would be no blockbusting with someone buying them up and then trying to put up a seven- or eight-storey tower on the beach,” said Fletcher.
Next, the municipal government plans to seek a heritage designation for the sites, which would make it tougher for the properties to be demolished and redeveloped.