In February, we introduced a new, 51 storey high-rise development proposal from Plaza and Quadrangle Architects at 30 Widmer Street in Toronto's Entertainment District. The proposal, initially referred to only by its address, has now been named Theatre District Condos, with recent changes seeing a height decrease from 51 to 47 storeys.

The decrease in height is achieved through a reduced—and redesigned—podium, with the previously proposed above-ground parking now eliminated from the podium, leaving all parking underground. In the revised proposal, the total number of parking spots has been reduced from 198 to 104. Otherwise, the tower remains largely unchanged, retaining the style and configuration of the original proposal.

Theatre District Condos, Toronto by Plaza, Quadrangle ArchitectsTheatre District Condos proposal by Quadrangle Architects for Plaza (revised)

The new podium (seen above) is not only noticeably smaller, but also significantly redesigned. A substantial change in the main lobby entrance—the large glass pane now floats in the middle of the podium, instead of covering its entire span from the ground up—is evident, while the rest of the podium also sees its texture significantly reconfigured. The dark horizontal glazing of the original podium (seen below) has been replaced by a softer concrete and brick base, with the glazing now configured vertically. 

30 Widmer Street, Toronto by Plaza, Quadrangle Architects  Initial 30 Widmer Street proposal by Quadrangle Architects for Plaza

Taking a closer look at the tower, the new renderings reveal only very subtle, minor changes, essentially brought about by bringing it four storeys closer to ground level.

Theatre District Condos, Toronto by Plaza, Quadrangle ArchitectsTheatre District Condos proposal by Quadrangle Architects for Plaza (revised)

30 Widmer Street, Toronto by Plaza, Quadrangle Architects  Initial 30 Widmer Street proposal by Quadrangle Architects for Plaza

The two major changes in the new proposal—namely the reduction in height and the removal of above-ground parking from the podium—both have significant repercussions. First, the reduced height means that Theatre District Condos now fits within the prescribed "clothes line" height parameters mandated by city planners. The "clothes line" provides a height criterion for each part of the downtown core, with acceptable building heights gradually reduced from University Avenue to Spadina Avenue. This maintains a cohesive and centralized skyline, while preserving the unique aesthetic and socio-cultural qualities of lower-rise Toronto neighbourhoods beyond. As illustrated below, the reduced height of the new proposal means that Theatre District Condos now fits within these parameters.

The Theatre District, Toronto by Plaza, Quadrangle Architects      An illustration of the "clothes line" height parameters mandated by the city

The reduction in parking spaces also offers an interesting insight into condo development in Toronto. While the City mandates that new buildings maintain a relatively high ratio of parking spots to units—between 0.4 and 1.8 spaces for every unit, depending on unit size and location of the building—condo developers have increasingly found many parking spots left unsold. This evidences a significant demographic and cultural shift in the city. Following decades of suburban exodus, new homeowners are increasingly attracted to life in the downtown core, and the car-free lifestyle that comes with it. The fact that fewer parking spots are being sold, and that new buildings—like Theatre District Condos—are subsequently being designed with less parking, suggests significant changes in how Toronto residents are choosing to live.

While above ground parking for cars has been removed, Theatre District Condos still features three storeys of parking in the redesigned podium: for bicycles. With 461 bicycle spots—meeting a municipally mandated ratio of one per suite in new buildings— and only 104 parking spots, Theatre District Condos offers a glimpse into the increasingly car-free lifestyle of many Torontonians. Besides plentiful bicycle parking, the podium space is rounded out by retail and amenities, which include guest suites as well as a landscaped terrace.

While the project is still emerging from the design stage, it may not be too long before we see activity on the site, with a demolition permit for the existing building at 313/315 Adelaide West filed as early as January 5th. We will be sure to return with new information as details continue to emerge.

In the meantime, you can check out the existing images we have for Theatre District Condos in the project's dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Visit the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.