Among the plethora of development applications received by Toronto in the last days of 2016 (before fees increased in the new year), a wave of infill projects re-imagined the sites of older high-rise communities across the City. Joining the Downtown point towers that continue to characterize much of the city's recent development, the tower-in-the-park communities that sprouted during Toronto's dramatic post-war growth spurt are themselves gradually also becoming products of the 21st century boom. 

Inspired by Le Corbusier's vision of car-oriented tower communities nestled in suburban parkland, sites across Toronto are occupied by clusters of towers surrounded by vacant green space. That's now changing. Just north of High Park, for example, new infill projects like Grenadier Square, 111 Pacific, and High Park Village are poised to intensify the area, with proposals also on the books at 666 Spadina, 135 Fenelon, 66 Broadway, 89 Roehampton, 25 Thunder Grove, 6040 Bathurst, and 45 La Rose Avenue, to name just some of the plans recently tabled across Toronto. Adding one more into the mix, a 35-storey point tower is now being planned near Don Mills and Sheppard, replacing another private 'park' that arguably never amounted to much more than a lonely stretch of turf. 

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + BigauskasThe site, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Situated just west of the intersection, the 1650 Sheppard Avenue East site is currently occupied by the 15-storey 'Sunrise Towers' apartment building. Completed in 1971, the property is now managed by Sterling Karamar. Like many towers of its era, the building is surrounded by stretches of green space. The proposed development would occupy the site's largest vacant space, located north of the existing tower, which would be fully retained.

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + Bigauskas3D aerial view of the site, image via Google Maps

As the 15-storey slab form tower already fronts onto the north side of Sheppard, access to the new development would be provided via an expansion of the north-south driveway—running along the west end of the site—into a new public road. (This would necessitate the removal of the outdoor pool seen above). Additionally, the proposal calls for a three-storey above-ground parking garage to be built at the east end of the site, with street-level retail fronting the new garage on Sheppard. At the terminus of the new road, a small POPS would also be created north of the new tower.

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + BigauskasThe site plan, showing the new point tower north of the existing slab form, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Designed by Rafael + Bigauskas Architects, the 35-storey development would feature 343 residential units, with a mix of 200 one-bedroom (58%) and 143 two-bedroom units (42%) planned. No three-bedroom suites are planned. The 343 new suites would more than double the site's existing 149 units, with residents of the older building set to share some of the new amenities, including the street-level plaza planned between the two towers.

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + BigauskasAerial view at the southwest corner, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Alongside the new residential density, the site's parking supply is also set to be significantly expanded. The new above-ground parking garage will add 72 spaces, while the capacity of the existing underground garage will be expanded to four levels, bringing its capacity from 115 to 372 spots. While 26 surface vehicle spaces would be removed to make way for the new garage, the total number of parking spots would swell from 141 to 441.

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + BigauskasView at southeast corner, showing the three-storey parking garage, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Located near the east terminus of the TTC's Sheppard Subway, the site is part of an intensification area identified under the City's Sheppard East Subway Corridor Secondary Plan. While the Secondary Plan allows for FSI of up to 4.5 in so-called 'Key Development Areas,' the 1650 Sheppard site is not identified as one of these areas. In order to meet approval, the site would therefore need to be re-classified; the current 'Multiple Family Dwellings' designation zoning allows for a maximum FSI of 1.5 (with no specific cap on heights). The 9,045 m² site has an existing FSI of approximately 1.48, and the addition of the tower would bring the FSI to 4.46, meeting the City's criterion.

1650 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, by Rafael + BigauskasVire at northwest corner, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The developers for the project are so far represented only through numbered companies, and it is not yet clear what kind of residential tenancy is planned for the new building, though we will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the planning process gets underway. In the meantime, make sure to check out our dataBase page, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the conversation in our associated Forum thread.