Last week, the Province of Ontario announced the $260 million sale of the LCBO lands, located just east of the foot of Yonge Street in Downtown Toronto. Accompanying the announcement, preliminary plans for part of the site were outlined by new owner Menkes Developments, with a 24-storey office tower and a 8,755 m² park fronting Queens Quay. Those uses cover the portion of the site south of a Harbour Street extension. The north end could look very different. This week, a development application for the entirety of the 11.5-acre area was submitted to the City of Toronto, revealing a proposed cluster of six additional towers with heights of 85, 80, 76, 74, 70, and 65 storeys. 

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesThe proposal within its urban context, with other proposed buildings in blue, image retrieved via submission to City of Toronto

With Cooper Street at its centre, the site spans north-south between Queens Quay and Lake Shore Boulevard, with two long blocks on either side of Cooper. As part of the Lower Yonge Precinct redevelopment plan, Harbour Street will be extended east through the site, effectively dividing the both existing blocks in half.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesThe extension of Harbour Street will create four blocks, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

The new public park and the B+H Architects-designed office tower—seen below, the building will house the LCBO's corporate headquarters along with a new liquor store to replace the current one onsite—will respectively occupy Blocks 3 and 1, south of Harbour Street. While the majority of Block 3 will be given over to park space, a two-storey retail frontage at the north end of the block will face Harbour Street, contributing to a shopping strip along the extended street. North of Harbour Street, the proposal envisions a total of six towers on Blocks 4 and 2.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesLooking northeast, a rendering of the 24-storey Phase 1 office tower, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

At the northwest end of the site, Block 4 sees the lion's share of new density. Four residential towers are proposed for the area currently occupied by the LCBO's head office and warehouse (built between 1950 and 1954). Fronting Lake Shore Boulevard, the plan for the north half of the site "includes the retention of the majority of the existing 4-storey LCBO office building," according to a planning rationale submitted to the City on May 10th. Above, the site's two tallest towers ('B' and 'C') rise to 85 and 80 storeys above a shared podium, with 960 and 1,050 units respectively.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesBlock 4 (left) and Block 2, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Meanwhile, the south half of Block 4 also features two towers and a shared podium, incorporating the partially reconstructed "north and west facades of the existing 3-storey LCBO warehouse." While elements of the warehouse are retained as part of the 5-storey podium, the new Harbour Street frontage features street-level retail, with 70- and 65-storey towers ('D' and 'E') above. Respectively featuring 845 and 600 suites, the two towers bring Block 4's proposed density to an incredible 3,455 units.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesSite plan showing proposed Harbour Street retail, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto (click to enlarge)

To the east, Block 2 features two high-rises, referred to as towers 'F' and 'G.' 76 and 74 storeys tall, each of the towers rises from individual podium. Fronting Harbour Street, the 76-storey 'F' tower's 6-storey podium will extend Block 4's the street-level retail east. On the north half of the block, the 74-storey 'G' tower rises atop a 9-storey podium, with the two high-rises configured to retain the minimum 25-metre separation distance outlined in the City's Tall Building Guidelines. Taken together, the two buildings feature 1,747 residential units, making for a total of 5,192 units spread out across the northern half of the 11.5-acre site.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesNorth-South elevations, Blocks 4 and 2, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

As the project is still in its very early stages, the proposed massing and residential density does not necessarily reflect what may eventually be built. Since the proposed height—which tops out at 288.5 metres for the 85-storey 'B' tower—exceeds the general density and heights targeted in the Lower Yonge Precinct Plan, the scope of the project could be scaled down somewhat before approvals are granted. Seen below, the Lower Yonge Precinct Plan only foresees three towers on Block 4, where the Menkes proposal has four.

The Lower Yonge Precinct as envisioned by Waterfront TorontoThe Lower Yonge Precinct as envisioned by Waterfront Toronto

In this sense, the proposed massing should be considered a starting point for negotiations between Menkes and the City. In terms of architectural expression, the elevations seen earlier likely do not indicate an aesthetic direction for the project, merely illustrating the proposed massing. Similarly, the Waterfront Toronto rendering above featuresplaceholder towers representing envisioned building locations and massing.

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesAn aerial view of the site as it appears now, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

While the proposed density on the LCBO Lands may be seen as excessive by the City, the planning rationale—prepared by Bousfields Inc.—depicts some other surprisingly tall buildings proposed nearby. Although the 95 storey height peak proposed at Pinnacle International's 1-7 Yonge is already known, a proposed height of 68 storeys is also depicted on Greybrook, Castlepoint, and Cityzen's site at 215 Lake Shore Blvd East, located just east of Daniels Waterfront (see below). 

LCBO Lands, Toronto, by MenkesA height map, showing proposals in red (in storeys), image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto (click to enlarge)

Concrete details of the 215 Lake Shore East proposal have yet to become available, though the site's tower heights of 68 and 56 storeys nonetheless evidence the area's intense development pressure. Given that the LCBO lands are more centrally located than the 215 Lake Shore site, Menkes may see this proposal as grounds for more ambitious density to the west.

We will keep you updated as the proposal beings to make its way through the planning process, and more information—including the design companies involved—becomes available. In the meantime, make sure to check out our associated dataBase files for more information about development in the area. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Leave a comment in the space below this page, or join in the ongoing conversation on our Forum.


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