More details regarding a proposed 34-storey condominium at 75 The Esplanade have been unveiled. Currently occupied by a surface commercial parking lot, the southwest corner of Church Street and The Esplanade could see an architectsAlliance-designed tower replace it in the future. 

The application was submitted to the City earlier this year by Harhay Developments and Carttera Private Equities and is currently making its way through the planning process. One of the first steps of that process is holding a consultation with members of the public. The St. James Cathedral Centre a few blocks to the north was the venue for the October 27 evening event which attracted about 50 people. 

75 The Esplanade, architectsAlliance75 The Esplanade, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The 350 units within the building would be housed within a 112.6 metre-tall tower comprised of a 7-storey podium fronting The Esplanade, stepping up to 11 storeys further away from the street. The 25 and 37-metre podium would be clad in glass and brick, reflecting the historic structures located nearby. Nearly 7,000 square feet of indoor amenity space combined with about 6,500 square feet of outdoor amenity space is proposed. The outdoor space would be located on the second floor at the southwest corner of the site. Over 15,000 square feet of retail space will constitute the ground floor of the building. Three levels of underground parking consisting of 126 vehicle stalls and 356 bike spots would be provided. About seven percent of the units would be three bedrooms. 

Adam Feldmann, architectsAlliance, 75 The EsplanadeAdam Feldmann of architectsAlliance presents the proposal, image by Marcus Mitanis

The site falls within several policy frameworks, including the proposed St. Lawrence Heritage Conservation District and St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Focused Area – Official Plan Amendment, as well as the existing St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Community Improvement Plan and the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Focused Area Urban Design Guidelines. The latter document outlines the site as a Mixed-Use Height Sensitive Area which would ideally see a height no greater than 12 storeys. The site also falls within a designated Character Area where highrises are considered inappropriate forms of development.  

75 The Esplanade site, TorontoThe parking lot at 75 The Esplanade, with 55 pictured in the background, image by Marcus Mitanis

A six metre sidewalk along The Esplanade would be supplemented by canopies providing shelter. One member of the audience wondered whether the arcade of the Novotel building to the west could be continued eastward, though planner Elise Hug noted that the City generally discourages covered walkways in favour of an open public realm. 

Though the development is very much in its infancy, the exact makeup of the retail was questioned by those in attendance, with many floating the idea of a daycare. The design of the podium was generally well received, with several members of the audience feeling that the brick added warmth to the street consistent with its surroundings. 

75 The Esplanade, looking west along The Esplanade, architectsAllianceLooking west along The Esplanade, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The meeting was well attended by residents of neighbouring properties, particularly 55 The Esplanade just to the south. 55 The Esplanade, an 8-storey building built in 1981 and situated atop a six-storey parking structure, is operated by TCHC. Several concerns were raised by residents, the most contentious being the height and separation between 55 The Esplanade and the new tower. 55 The Esplanade is located to the left of the east elevation diagram pictured below. 

Proposed east elevation, 75 The Esplanade, City of TorontoProposed east elevation, image courtesy of City of Toronto

The proposed height would ensure shadowing on Berczy Park is kept to a minimum, with the studies indicating the park will be unaffected after 10 am. The exact proposed distance between 75 and 55 The Esplanade was unclear, leading to worry from residents who were concerned their views would be lost and their units shrouded in darkness. One resident exclaimed, "I don't look forward to living in a cave." Another concerned resident explained that loss of views wasn't the only issue, and when combined with the elimination of sunlight, there was a "loss of connection with the neighbourhood."

Some in the audience raised the idea of creating a petition to stop the development, but Councillor Pam McConnell noted the best way forward would be to work with the planner and developers in finding a solution, avoiding a potential appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. McConnell also explained that current zoning allows for a 36 metre structure, roughly translating to a 12 storey building as-of-right, that could essentially take the form of a slab building occupying the entire site from lot line to lot line. Development on this site, she said, is inevitable. 

75 The Esplanade, looking south along Church, architectsAllianceLooking south along Church Street toward The Esplanade, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

News of a possible Church Street extension underneath the rail corridor also came as a surprise to many in attendance. Outlined in the Lower Yonge Precinct Plan, the extension could mean tunnelling below the parking structure, a situation adding further worry for residents of 55 The Esplanade. Elise Hug pointed out the proposal is a long-term vision, funding for which has not been secured. 

A recommendation from City Planning will come in the Spring, but there will no doubt be more story to tell as the proposal is refined in the coming months. For more information, check out the dataBase file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Visit the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.