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Toronto residents raise concerns over empty section of Yonge Street, awaiting demolition since spring

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A block of storefronts along a major Toronto road has been sitting empty, covered in black paint and awaiting demolition, since the spring.

"It sort of degrades the area," Michael Snider, the former owner of Snider Music, told CTV News Toronto. "When we moved here in 1986, there was every kind of business in the world."

Snider's family business is situated right across the street from the empty block, located on Yonge Street near Lawrence Avenue.

"I'm worried about when the construction [begins] and the fact that nobody knows when it's coming," he said.

The land is owned by a developer with plans to build condos on the block, featuring mixed-use retail space on street level.

The local business association has no problem with the plans, but members say they were never consulted on the "black hole" occupying their street.

CTV News reached out to the developer, Montcrest Asset Management, but did not receive a response before the stated deadline.

Several business owners in the area said the black paint began appearing in the spring and it's remained ever since.

People can be seen walking down a block of Yonge Street in Toronto, currently awaiting development. (Allison Hurst)

Beverly Don, the treasurer for the Yonge and Lawrence BIA, said the latest meeting with representatives for developers was in October.

"I said, ‘Can you please change that colour?’” she explained. "And he said, 'Well, we'll see' and he was supposed to get back to me but he did not."

According to the city, the delays in development are spurred by a lack of permits.

“While the demolition permits were applied for in March of this year, they could not be issued as [developers] are not in compliance with applicable law,” a spokesperson said.

"Residential properties cannot be demolished without the issuance of a replacement building permit. There is no replacement building permit applied for at this time,” they continued.

Ted Butler, member of the Bedford Park Residents Organization (BPRO), told CTV News Toronto he’s “disappointed” in the project thus far.

“But it's my understanding it's not the developers' fault at this point," Butler said. "They were on target to start demolition sometime in the summer, but they still have a couple of people living there. And I think they're going through the eviction process with it."

Butler said ultimately BPRO is pleased with the plans for the neighbourhood, they'd just like to see it get underway.

"It's going to be a two-year process to get there and this has just slowed it down," he said.

"There's nothing malicious about this. Unfortunately, it looks like this. We love our neighborhood, and the people that live up here. You know, a lot of pride in the neighborhood. This is just, I guess, part of the growing pains of change."

Don, with the BIA, also said she fully supports the plans for the space, but wishes they could have better communication with developers.

"I don't feel they have made any legitimate effort to reach out to us as the BIA," she said.

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