The plan for a 65-storey rental tower at 2 Queen West came to City Hall on Monday evening for its first public consultation. The site at the northwest corner of Yonge and Queen Streets is currently home to a four-storey heritage building which houses an 'Atmosphere' sports store. Tucked into the a corner of the Eaton Centre block, both properties are owned by Cadillac Fairview

The existing 1895-built structure has played home to several retailers over the years. Its exterior was partially restored in the 1980s when a 1960s metal grill was removed from the facade. The bricks were cleaned at the time, but too vigorously, and their surface is now too susceptible to the elements, leaving them slowly crumbling. Much of the building is currently hidden under an aluminum skin which covers more damaged materials. As part of the tower proposal, Cadillac Fairview intends to rebuild the heritage façade, fully restoring it to its original design. Behind the façade would be new structure to support the tower above.

The current half-hidden heritage structure at Queen and Yonge Streets, TorontoThe current half-hidden heritage structure at Queen and Yonge Streets, image by Craig White

Zeidler Partnership Architects is designing the slender tower, chamfering some corners, and setting the tower back from the heritage façade in deference to it. Architectural gestures on the 475,000 square foot building are minimal, but bold: a five-storey silver-toned supergrid is imposed on the façade, articulating it and framing canted portions of the exterior. Within the ground realm, two storeys of high quality retail would go in behind the rebuilt heritage front, while amenities for the rental tower would be located above, with a landscaped roof terrace crowing it at the fifth level.

2 Queen West by Cadillac Fairview, seen from across Yonge Street, Toronto2 Queen West at Yonge Street, image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview

The new tower would be amongst the largest investments in rental housing in Toronto in years, adding residential uses to the retail and office space now making up the Eaton Centre. Residential peak travel hour is the beginning of the day before retail is active, while amenity use in the evenings would add animation to the corner at times when Yonge and Queen are getting quieter.

The 580 units would have either recessed balconies or Juliet balconies. No new parking spaces are proposed for the building, which would have both a connection to the Eaton Centre's Yonge Parkade, and indoor access via the Eaton Centre into Queen subway station. Indoor bike storage spaces would be provided for every unit. Servicing and loading access would be through a new connection to the Eaton Centre's underground facilities.

At 65 storeys, the proposed tower is tall for the area but not alone; the 60-storey high Massey Tower by MOD Developments was approved by the City across Yonge Street earlier this year. 2 Queen West would not add significant shadowing over Nathan Phillips Square.

2 Queen West by Cadillac Fairview, seen from Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto2 Queen West seen from Nathan Phillips Square, image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview

The meeting, part of the planning process for any building for which zoning by-law amendments will be required, gives community members the chance to ask questions and voice any concerns about the project. The building is not located within what people would consider a traditional neighbourhood, so notices were sent out to residential buildings a little further away than would normally be contacted directly. Few residents of any nearby towers attended the meeting, and none expressed any concerns, nor had any questions for the developers, Toronto planning staff, nor local City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. Representatives of other local interests such as the Downtown Yonge BIA and St. Michael's Hospital were in attendance at the meeting.

Councillor Wong-Tam raised concerns over additional crowding on narrow sidewalks in an area that already sees some of the busiest pedestrian traffic in Toronto, and about the degree to which the proposal exceeds current zoning limits. Massey Tower's by-law amendments were granted based on the benefits coming back to Toronto in regard to improving the aging Massey Hall. It remains to be seen what public benefits Cadillac Fairview will offer. The negotiations over the proposal that will follow are typical for the planning process.

2 Queen West by Cadillac Fairview, seen from above Toronto2 Queen West by Zeidler Partnership Architects, image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview

We will follow the proposal as it develops over the next months. If you want to know more about 2 Queen West in the meantime, please visit our dataBase file, linked below. If you want to get in on the conversation, click on the associated Forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.