Developer Coal Harbour Properties (a division of Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts) bought the rental apartment buildings at Maple Leaf Quay a few years ago, and has been working to improve the buildings since. The pair of 21-storey slabs that hug either side of the slip of water east of Spadina Avenue have been an architectural sore point on Toronto Harbour since they were built by developers Huang and Danczkay in the late 1980s.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, Coal Harbour ProperitesMaple Leaf Quay before the renovations, image retrieved from Apple Maps

Coal Harbour's first plans to rejuvenate the exterior were greeted with some scepticism on UrbanToronto, but the beige brick was repainted in varying shades of gray, while new windows with contrasting black frames and red inserts replaced older, energy inefficient ones, and lifted the tone of the buildings considerably. Reaction on UrbanToronto to the work was enormously positive over last summer as the renovation work progressed.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, Coal Harbour ProperitesMaple Leaf Quay mid-renovations, August 2015, image by Craig White

Now we know that the renovations were just the first phase of a grander plan designed by Quadrangle Architects, one that was shown publicly for the first time two weeks ago, and which will be submitted to the City of Toronto shortly. Coal Harbour has revealed plans for a third tower at the site, one that is proposed to rise to 29 storeys, replacing the existing four-storey linking building there now.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesImproved ground realm a goal at Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

Part of the plan includes improvements to and expansion of the existing buildings too, and remaking the public realm around the base of the entire development. To say that the current interface with the lake at this site is poor is an understatement. Coal Harbour aims to correct the situation through a redesign, and through cooperation with Toronto Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, Waterfront Toronto, and Ports Toronto.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesImproved ground realm a goal at Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

Coal Harbour wants to see a more inviting ground level where new retail and restaurants enjoy outdoor space facing the water. The slip itself tends to collect garbage that floats in from the Harbour, (Ports Toronto has the responsibility for keeping it clean), and a boom that was added last summer was only a limited success, so a more robust cleaning operation will be needed to make the slip attractive as a place for people to congregate. Coal Harbour is also hoping that the granite sett paving scheme that was implemented at Harbourfront last year south of Queens quay can also be put in place around the slip, bringing the newly cohesive public realm of the area to this site too.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesSouthwest view of the Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

Above ground level, Coal Harbour is proposing rental apartment suites from the second floor to the penthouses on the 29th level, with the sixth and seventh floors—atop the podium—being the location of most of the tower's amenities. 

The existing buildings are proposed to be extended further north, to match the proposed alignment of the north wall of the new tower. On the west tower, that would add two suites per floor, on the east tower it would add three suites per floor. The new north walls of those buildings are proposed as potential locations of giant living walls, with plants chosen for their ability to withstand our climatic extremes while providing all-season interest. Atop the existing towers, the proposal includes new visors and green roofs with trees among the plantings to architecturally tie the proposal together and further improve their overall appearance from all sides.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesDescending building heights around the Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

Sited south of the taller Harbourview Estates towers of Concord CityPlace, the new tower would be far enough to the west of the Rogers Centre that it would remain a part of the "postcard view" of Toronto from the Toronto Islands, a view corridor which the City of Toronto desires to retain.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesView corridors will be maintained by Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

Another view corridor in the area is one that starts beside the Rogers Centre, where pedestrians walking around the facility can see south to the lake. To preserve most of that view, the new central tower is proposed to be sited 30 metres from the existing east tower. The City of Toronto's Tall Buildings Design Guidelines asks for 25 metre tower separations, so the plan here asks the City to consider the extra 5-metre gap on the east side as a trade-off for a 20-metre gap on the west side.

Maple Leaf Quay, Toronto, by Quadrangle Architects for Coal Harbour ProperitesConsidering the context of the Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Coal Harbour Properties

At the initial public consultation, held as a courtesy in advance of the application to the City, response to the plan was quite favourable, with attendees voicing no objections during the meeting, although it is known that some residents of Harbourview Estates to the north have voiced their concerns to Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy about losing direct views to the lake. Views are not guaranteed in Toronto, however, so those concerns are not likely to have a direct effect on negotiations concerning the upcoming application. It remains to be seen if the City will accept the 5-metre view corridor trade-off, or what other aspects of the plan might be considered concerns. Based on the reaction to the proposal at the meeting, it would seem that the proposal is already being met by a generally favourable reception.

If you would like to know more about the proposal, you can check out UrbanToronto's dataBase file for the development, linked below. If you want to talk about the plans, you can get in on the discussion in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.