A sizeable percentage of the rental housing stock in the Greater Toronto Area is in the form of the "tower in the park" typology, a style that was widely built in the region through the latter half of the 20th century, but which has since fallen out of favour. The form leaves abundant green space surrounding the buildings which is typically under-utilized, discourages pedestrian activity and transit use by making walks long, and makes it more expensive to provide City services.

Now into the early 21st century, tower in the park sites are being re-assessed, and a growing number of proposals are being made to intensify the sites with infill buildings, allowing landowner to optimize the use of their land while offering relief to pedestrians through improved ground realm, all the while achieving a goal of the Province of Ontario's Places To Grow Act which seeks to densify population in areas where City services already exist.

The latest proposed intensification of one of these sites was submitted to the City of Toronto earlier this month for 25 Thunder Grove, a property with an existing 1984-built 18-storey rental apartment building near the northeast corner of McCowan and Finch.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsNorthwest aerial view of subject site, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

The proposal calls for the construction of a new 12-storey building to the east of the 18-storey tower, building out a portion of the property currently used as a surface parking and a childrens' playground. Proposed within the tower are 176 new rental apartments, which would add to the existing 247 rental units housed on the site. The intensification would help to alleviate the pressing demand for affordable rental housing, with owner Ridgeford Charitable Foundation committing to maintain the units as affordable housing on a non-profit basis.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsRendering of 25 Thunder Grove, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

Designed by Kirkor Architects Planners, the development would include a six-storey base volume clad in a grey brick, with a recessed upper volume sporting a lighter tone of brick. The building's ground floor would include a combined lobby, lounge, and indoor amenity space that will be accessible to tenants of both the existing and new buildings. In total, 388.72 square metres of indoor amenity space and 411.85 square metres of outdoor amenity space is proposed for the development, with additional spaces including an at-grade community garden. An existing outdoor pool and a one-storey daycare building will both be retained, and accessible to residents of both buildings.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsSouth elevation of 25 Thunder Grove, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

In total, the project would include 78 one-bedroom units, 88 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-or-more-bedroom units. Units housed on the ground floor would be accessed from an internal corridor and feature individual private patios at grade. Above, each unit on the upper floors would include either a private balcony or terrace.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsNorth elevation of 25 Thunder Grove, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

To accommodate the added density, the existing underground parking garage would undergo an expansion to serve a new total of 326 parking spaces. An additional 39 surface parking spaces—a reduction from the existing 92 surface spaces—would be situated at the interior of the site, and would be separated from Finch Avenue by the proposed and existing towers, and screened from view to the north by a row of mature trees. The proposal calls for 145 bicycle parking spaces, 127 of which would be housed in a dedicated room on the ground floor. The remaining 18 outdoor spaces situated outside of the lobby would be reserved for visitors.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsEast elevation of 25 Thunder Grove, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

Despite the new building, approximately 55% of the total subject site would be maintained as landscaped greenspace, and would include the retention of mature trees. New walkways through the site would enhance connectivity with the street grid for site residents and surrounding neighbourhood residents.

25 Thunder Grove, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Kirkor ArchitectsWest elevation of 25 Thunder Grove, image retrieved from submission to City of Toronto

Infilling of tower in the park-style apartment building sites and the replacement of outmoded building typologies could be a major boon to the pedestrian environment in this part of north Scarborough. This development and another 12-storey residential proposal a few kilometres to the west at 3268 Finch Avenue East is indicative of the increasing interest in the infill that should reinvigorate area of this Toronto suburb.

We will return with updates as additional information about the development emerges. In the meantime, you can see renderings and building facts by visiting the project's dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment using the field provided at the bottom of this page.