For months now, the discussion of a large new mixed-use building on the site of the current Holt Renfrew flagship store has been a hot topic among UrbanToronto Forumers. Located at 50 Bloor Street West, it is steps away from one of the city's busiest and most important intersections at Yonge and Bloor, an area that has experienced an exciting transformation throughout this construction boom with new buildings that continue to revolutionize the urban fabric. The Holt Renfrew Centre has long been regarded as the centre piece of Toronto's "Mink Mile", and a prominent feature of the glamourous Yorkville district. With several properties in the Bloor Yorkville area being redeveloped, future intensification of the Holt's site seemed inevitable to many urban enthusiasts. Any proposal for such a significant site, however, will naturally be met by considerable attention.
Earlier this year, Morguard submitted an ambitious application for an 83-storey mixed-use building at 50 Bloor Street West. Planned at 277 metres, this would become the new tallest residential tower in Canada surpassing Aura by 5 metres. That application maybe be found here, on the city's website. At the base of the proposal is an 8-storey podium which features a total of 41,080 square metres gross floor area of commercial and office usage. The tower above would include 600 residential units, while a 620-space below grade garage is planned for both residents and commercial parking.
There was much discussion regarding the potential architect associated with this prominent development, and rumours about different British architects were floating around. In June 2012, the city of Toronto set up an official planning page for 50 Bloor Street West with detailed renderings, drawings, floorplans, and studies revealed. That planning page is available here. Pellow and Associates was confirmed to behind the design of this project, a firm with a portfolio featuring mainly suburban office buildings and shopping centres.
The 8-storey podium continues the strong streetwall presence on Bloor Street, and features a substantial commercial component. Holt Renfrew will return as a main tenant with an expanded flagship store, further establishing it as one of the premier shopping destinations in the city. Stone, a familiar material with many Yorkville buildings, is proposed to be used on the podium. A glass cube feature is seen at the eastern end above the tower's entrance area. Podium green roof and rooftop terraces are also proposed in the renderings.
The planned 83-storey tower is located on the eastern portion of the site, and will rise alongside the 2 Bloor West office building. A close up of the lower portion of the tower shows that the stone or precast cladding, from the podium will continue until around one third of the tower height. The tower massing is broken up into a series of setbacks. The upper portions of the tower features contemporary architecture, reminiscent of several office buildings.
At 277 metres tall, 50 Bloor Street West will certainly have a dominating presence over neighbouring buildings. To put it in persepective, the current tallest in the area is the new Four Seasons at 204 metres. One Bloor East, currently under construction, is currently planned to be 237.7 metres. 50 Bloor West would definitely become the new pinnacle of the Bloor Yorkville skyline, a formidable cluster that is quickly establishing itself as a city within the city.
This project has to go through several hurdles before being cleared. Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has already publicly stated that the current proposal does not meet urban planning standards. Issues regarding the proposed driveway and traffic were brought up: situated at an area of such high traffic and pedestrian activity, this is naturally a concern that needs to addressed. Councillor Wong-Tam has also stated that shadowing on the surrounding area is also a concern. As the status of this project is still preliminary, further studies will need to be conducted to decide the future of this project. Check out our database listing here for more renderings. To join the discussion and for further updates please check out our Forum thread here.