In late 2014, a 52-storey condo tower was proposed for Toronto's 68 Charles Street East, rising above a cluster of heritage buildings that sit on the northwest corner of Church and Charles. While still retaining the historic 'Manhattan' rental building at the corner, as well as the structures at 634 and 636 Church Street, the proposal has evolved with a slightly reduced scale. Following City Planning's recent recommendation for approval, a streamlined iteration of the tower is poised to emerge from the planning process, with a 47-storey condominium recently recommended for approval by City staff.

The Manhattan, Toronto, by Aspen Ridge Homes, Quadrangle ArchitectsLooking southwest at the 47-storey tower, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the Aspen Ridge Homes development—provisionally known as The Manhattan—has resurfaced with a somewhat reduced density and a reconfigured design. Where the 2014 proposal called for 439 condominium units, 408 suites are now planned, featuring an altered unit mix. At ground level, heritage retention plans remain in place, with the tower's floorplate accommodated via alterations to the existing properties.

Maintaining its presence at the Church and Charles intersection, the notable Manhattan apartment building will be retained in full and restored. Immediately to the north on Church Street, the heritage property at 634 and 636 will also be mostly retained, although both buildings' rear additions will be demolished. This structure (below, centre) will also be transported approximately 2.9 metres to the east.

The Manhattan, Toronto, by Aspen Ridge Homes, Quadrangle ArchitectsLooking west at The Manhattan, 634/686 Church, and 638 Church (l-r), image retrieved via Google Maps

In moving the erstwhile mansion closer to Church Street, the structure will line up with east frontage of the Manhattan, accommodating the new tower's footprint while creating a more cohesive streetwall. At the northeast end of the site, the property at 638 Church will be demolished. Although this structure incorporates elements of the surrounding architectural typology, the building (above, right) is not considered a contributing heritage property. 

The Manhattan, Toronto, by Aspen Ridge Homes, Quadrangle ArchitectsThe slim lower tower levels, looking northwest, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

To avoid encroaching upon the two-storey heritage properties, the tower's first three levels (3-5) feature a very compact 577 m² floorplate (above). From the 6th level onward, the tower floorplate is expanded to 731 m², a figure largely in line with the City's 750 m² standard. The lower levels will house amenity spaces and replacement rental units, while residential balconies begin from the 8th storey. Spanning most of the building's height, the conspicuous balcony pattern will likely prove a recognizable design element.

The Manhattan, Toronto, by Aspen Ridge Homes, Quadrangle ArchitectsLooking north, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

A revised unit mix is also in the works, with a greater emphasis on two and three-bedroom suites. While the 2014 plan called for 320 one-bedroom + den (73%), 88 two-bedroom + den (20%), and 31 three-bedroom (7%) units, the new proposal introduces a different configuration. The finalized proposal includes a unit mix of 132 one-bedroom (32.5%), 99 one-bedroom + den (24%), 132 two-bedroom (32.5%), 4 two-bedroom + den (1%), and 41 three-bedroom (10%) suites. 

In terms of a Section 37 commitment, City staff have identified a cash contribution of $3,353,000. While 80% of the funds ($2,682,400) would likely be geared towards streetscape and park improvements, 10% contributions each towards affordable housing ($335,300) and cultural facilities ($335,300) are also recommended. The project would also require a Heritage Easement Agreement for the properties at 628, 634, and 636 Church Street.

The Manhattan, Toronto, by Aspen Ridge Homes, Quadrangle ArchitectsLooking east along Charles Street, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Additionally, the inclusion of three-bedroom units—making up at least 10% of total suites—now adheres to Section 37 regulations. As in the 2014 proposal, the site's 20 rental apartment units will also be replaced at the tower's levels, bringing the total number of residential suites to 428. At street level, 349 m² of retail space is planned along Church Street. 

We will keep you updated as the project continues to move through the final stages of the planning process. The proposal will now be considered by the Toronto and East York Community Council on June 14th, ahead of a full City Council review on July 12th. For more information, make sure to check out our associated dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Feel free to leave a comment in the space below this page, or join in the ongoing discussion on our associated Forum thread.