A March 2nd public consultation introduced a revised plan for Great Eagle Holdings' transformative redevelopment of Toronto's Eaton Chelsea Hotel at 33 Gerrard West. In October, our last update of the architectsAlliance-designed complex introduced a development that would replace the existing hotel with a six-storey office building and four residential towers, rising to 46, 50, 74, and 80 storeys. Now, a proposed reconfiguration of the site's density reduces the number of towers to three, with the development maintaining a similar GFA by increasing tower heights to 50, 75, and 86 storeys.

The development is still in its very early stages, however, with the revised proposal has yet to be resubmitted to the City. While the plans should be considered highly preliminary, the project's first public consultation provided an important indication of how the development is taking shape, with a particular focus on the ground-level, public realm treatment.

33 Gerrard West, Toronto, by Great Eagle Holdings, architectsAllianceLooking north along the new public park, image courtesy of Great Eagle Holdings

Vertically redistributing density on the site—while reducing the size of podiums—opens up a public space at ground level, with a POPS and public park now planned between the towers. As in the earlier plan, replacing the monolithic hotel with the slender point towers would open the block to pedestrian connections. Walton Street, which was cut off to facilitate the T-shaped hotel's graceless south volume, would be restored as a pedestrian-oriented 'woonerf' street. Meanwhile, a new north-south laneway would provide a pedestrian connection between Elm Street and Barbara Ann Scott park. 

33 Gerrard West, Toronto, by Great Eagle Holdings, architectsAllianceThe current building, the original plan, and the revised plan (l-r), photo of image by architectsAlliance

Under the revised plan, however, the north-south laneway has been expanded to create a public park mid-block, with the greenspace continuing as a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) fronting Gerrard north of the Walton Street woonerf. The thin 6-storey office building fronting the park remains unchanged (bottom left, below), with aA's Peter Clewes describing the facility as a flexibly configured office-sharing hub that caters to millennial entrepreneurs. As seen below, most of the project's ground-level would be fronted by retail.

33 Gerrard West, Toronto, by Great Eagle Holdings, architectsAllianceAn overview of the new public realm, photo of image by architectsAlliance

Above, the massing of the towers has evolved significantly from the last design. Whereas the tallest 80-storey tower was initially planned on the northeast corner of the site, fronting Gerrard, the height of this building has been reduced to 75 storeys. To the west, a 50 storey tower (featuring a 300-room boutique hotel at the lower levels) is now planned. At 86 storeys, the project's tallest building is now set to rise south of Walton Street, consolidating the two shorter initially proposed.

Despite the substantial reconfiguration, the number residential units remains largely consistent with earlier plans, with approximately 1,900 suites slated for the development (the initial plan included 1,897 units). As Clewes explained, the changes were driven by the City's desire "for an on-site parkland dedication," as opposed to "the in-lieu funds first proposed." Given the size of the site, the City pushed for an on-site dedication during early negotiations, expanding the supply of public space Downtown. Landscaping will be overseen by NAK Design Strategies.

Since the plans are still preliminary, the new renderings exist predominantly for massing purposes, and do not necessarily give an indication of the design aesthetic. "There's very little architecture here," Clewes told us, explaining that the project's architectural expression—in both the towers and the public realm— would begin to take more concrete shape once an appropriate massing model is negotiated with the City.

33 Gerrard West, Toronto, by Great Eagle Holdings, architectsAllianceWalton Street reconnected through the site, functioning as a woonerf, looking west. Image courtesy of Great Eagle Holdings

Following the architect's presentation, members of the community provided commentary on the project. By and large, the revised scheme was preferred to the original proposal, with the increase of public space a particularly positive talking point. However, numerous residents raised concerns about the degree of new density, with numerous complaints referencing a feared "Manhattanization" of Toronto. 

Questions about affordability were also raised, with a number of attendants expressing concerns about the affordability of the units, and the number of family-friendly three bedroom suites planned. The inclusion of affordable housing units and three-bedroom suites has also been identified as a priority in the City's December Staff Report, with fuller details regarding these issues expected as the development continues to take shape. As initially proposed, the project included 235 bachelor, 954 one bedroom, 590 two bedroom, and 118 three-bedroom units (representing 6% of total suites). 

Overall, the meeting was not as heated as consultations regarding large-scale development can often be in Toronto. With a relative lack of affected residential neighbourhoods nearby, the project was not met with particularly impassioned opposition. Nonetheless, concerns about the scale and social impact of the development were voiced by many. Many residents also expressed a desire to see the project connect to the PATH system, though concrete plans for below-ground spaces have not been voiced as of yet. 

33 Gerrard West, Toronto, by Great Eagle Holdings, architectsAllianceLooking across the central park, image courtesy of Great Eagle Holdings

We will be sure to return with updates as more information becomes available, and the project continues to take shape. In the meantime, there are more renderings in our dataBase file for the project, linked below, and you can let us know what you think of the plans by leaving a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page, or by checking out the associated Forum thread to get in on the conversation.