Long Toronto's main north-south artery—and most famous street—Downtown Yonge Street has recently also become a poster child for the impacts of new development. As a wave of ongoing and proposed high-rise projects replace the fine-grained ecosystem of small retailers that has characterized the streetscape south of Bloor for decades. With a glut of developments now navigating through the planning process, the maligned and much-loved strip faces a pivotal moment. What will new towers do the street, and how can the vibrancy that exists now be nourished by new development?

Yet, while Yonge Street's dramatic transformation has drawn much of the attention, another north-south Downtown corridor is undergoing a metamorphosis of its own. Just east of Yonge, Church Street is in the midst of its own, quieter boom. In particular, the short stretch of Church between Carlton and Gerrard has become a hotbed of high-rise development, with two towers already under construction as future projects make their way through planning and sales. 

411 Church, Toronto, by CentreCourt, Page + Steele / IBI411 Church and The Stanley (l-r), image courtesy of CentreCourt

Unlike much of Downtown Yonge Street, however, this stretch of Church—just south of the much livelier Village—was not previously a vibrant destination. As such, the urban context for new development differs significantly from the more prominent street to the west, with infill projects replacing parking lots and underused sites. Beginning just north of Carlton Street, the east side of Church could soon be home to neighbouring high-rises, with 411 Church and Stanley Condominiums (above) both planned south of Wood Street.

411 Church, Toronto, by CentreCourt, Page + Steele / IBIA rendering of 411 Church (looking south), image courtesy of CentreCourt

At the southeast corner of Church and Wood, the existing parking lot could become home to CentreCourt's 37-storey 411 Church. Currently subject to an OMB appeal, the Page + Steele / IBI Group-designed tower was originally proposed at a height of 45 storeys, with the subsequent reduction in height bringing the building in line with Tribute's neighbouring Stanley Condos, situated immediately to the south.

Looking southwest from Wood and Church, the site of 411 and Stanley (l-r), imageLooking southwest from Wood and Church, the site of 411 and Stanley (l-r), image via Google Maps

Located at the northeast corner of Church and Carlton, sales for The Stanley are already well underway, with construction expected to begin in the coming months. Designed by Core Architects, the tower will bring a prominent high-rise presence to the corner. Replacing a mixed-use 2-storey building, the tower will rise above a streetwall podium that reflects the scale of Maple Leaf Gardens across the street.  

The Stanley Condominiums, Toronto, by Tribute, Core ArchitectsHero shot of The Stanley, looking northeast, image courtesy of Tribute

South of Carlton, two towers are already under construction, with Menkes' 365 Church and Tridel's Alter bringing a new character to the east side of the street. Spanning the width of the compact city block between McGill and Granby streets, the 30-storey 365 Church already rises well above its surroundings. As evidenced in recent photos, the Wallman Architects-designed tower features a precast brick frontage along the lower levels, attempting to reflect the street's existing character below the glassier tower levels.

365 Church, Toronto, by Menkes, Wallman Architects365 Church under construction, looking northeast, image by UT Forum contributor TheKingEast

The site was previously occupied by a surface parking lot and a small cluster of low-rise buildings, which housed a number of independent retailers, including a convenience store, a sandwich shop, and Stuart Ross' well-known Bulldog Coffee, which has since moved to a new home on Gerrard Street. Replacing some of the commercial amenities, the project will feature street-level retail space. 

365 Church, Toronto, by Menkes, Wallman ArchitectsWorm's eye rendering of 365 Church, original design, image via Menkes

Immediately south of McGill Street, meanwhile, Tridel's architectsAlliance-deisgned Alter remains at an earlier stage of construction, with work continuing below grade. Rising to a height of 33 storeys, the tower will arguably bring a more declaratively contemporary presence to the street compared to its 30-storey neighbour. This site was previously occupied by a two-storey institutional building housing Family Service Toronto. Once the project is complete, the agency—temporarily relocated to the west end—will take up a new office space in the building's podium levels. 

Alter, Toronto, by Tridel, architectsAllianceA rendering of Alter, image courtesy of Tridel

On the west side of the street, the neighbouring towers could eventually be joined by a third high-rise development, with the parking lot at 412 Church Street (considerably south of the lot at 411) previously subject to an application for a 32-storey student residence with street-level retail. While that proposal—submitted by CHC MPAR Church Holdings Inc.—was rejected by the OMB late last year, it's possible that another development could be proposed on the compact site in the near future. 

The 412 Church site, image retrieved via Google MapsThe 412 Church site, image retrieved via Google Maps

Taken together, these five projects, all of which are in different phases, sketch out a portrait of a street in transition. On this stretch of Church Street, new residential density is adding to the city in a—relatively—quiet way. While these projects have not been without criticism and controversy, the infill and intensification along this less prominent stretch of Church Street makes for an interesting comparison with the—arguably more sensitive—shopping strip context of Yonge Street's towers a block to the west. 

Looking north from Gerrard Street (June 2016), image retrieved via Google Maps365 and Alter (l-r), looking north from Gerrard Street (June 2016), image retrieved via Google Maps

We will keep you updated as these projects continue to develop, and more information becomes available. In the meantime, more information is available via our dataBase files, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the future of Church Street? Feel free to leave a comment in the space below this page, or join in the ongoing conversations in our associated Forum threads.