A strip club that has stood on Toronto’s Yonge Street since the 1950s is now facing redevelopment. The Brass Rail, a relic of the neon-lit adult entertainment scene of the past, is part of a development proposal by Concord that aims to construct a massive 64-storey condominium tower. The plan involves demolishing half of the block extending south from Yonge and Hayden streets, which includes the Brass Rail and several other buildings. The west facade of the current strip club is planned to be preserved and incorporated into the base of the new tower, but other buildings may not be as fortunate. The Victorian storefront at 17 Hayden, for example, is unlikely to be saved due to a heritage investigation that deemed removal of an existing coating would cause significant damage. Despite the properties being added to the City’s Heritage Register in 2016 and situated within the Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District, the developer intends to proceed with the demolition and construction of the new tower designed by architects Dialog, which will rise 216.5 meters into the evolving Bloor-Yorkville skyline.
With a retail space of only 414 square metres at the base of the tower, the majority of the proposed 35,545 square-metre floor area of the project is dedicated to residential space. Nearly 99 percent of the floor area will consist of 514 condominium units, with a mix of 131 studios, 237 one-bedrooms, 96 two-bedrooms, and 50 three-bedroom units. Located close to Bloor-Yonge station and two TTC subway lines, the development takes advantage of the growing trend since the City eliminated mandatory parking minimums, offering only 64 parking spots. Instead, residents are expected to rely on the nearby subway station and 517 bicycle spaces for shorter commutes.
Rumors of the site’s redevelopment have been circulating for a few years, and in 2021, The Globe and Mail reported that the Brass Rail, a relic of Yonge’s long-sanitized Sin Strip, was on the chopping block, which was not surprising given the area’s continued transformation with new development. The application was submitted at the end of March and circulated to city divisions for feedback in late April. Patrons of the strip club need not worry in the short term, as these applications can take months to years before the affected businesses are closed down.