More drama played out at the OMB last month as a pair of side-by-side towers on Widmer Street in Toronto's Entertainment District contemplated their fate in negotiations with the City. The towers in question are Plaza's Theatre District Condos, located at 30 Widmer on the southwest corner of Adelaide, and 8-20 Widmer by Claireville Holdings Limited just next door to the south. A revised version of Theatre District Condos gained the City's support and survived its OMB hearing, while 8-20 Widmer is now in limbo following a missed opportunity and the green light given to its neighbour.

8-20 Widmer, 30 Widmer, Theatre District Condos, Plaza, Claireville, TorontoMap showing the properties, image via Google Earth.

Theatre District Condos is a 48-storey tower designed by Quadrangle Architects and planned to replace a surface parking lot in the busy Entertainment District. Initially proposed as a 496-unit condo tower, the use has been modified to include a 353-suite hotel occupying the bottom 28 storeys of the building, while the upper portion of the tower will house a reduced 131 condos. The height of the tower remains the same at 48 storeys, rising to 156 metres (512 ft), and sitting atop a 10-storey podium. The development represents a floor space index of 22.44, with the tower to sport a slender floor plate size of only 570 m2. No marketing renderings have been produced of the revised development yet.

Plaza, Quadrangle Architects, Theatre District Condos, 30 Widmer, TorontoNorth elevation (left) and east elevation (right) of the revised Theatre District Condos, image courtesy of Plaza.

It is interesting to note that 30 Widmer's tower setback from the south property line is approved at only 10 metres, rather than the standard 12.5 metres. This suggests the City may be willing to accept in this instance a 20-metre separation between this building and 8-20 Widmer, in place of the standard 25-metre tower separation guideline.

Just to the south, 8-20 Widmer Street is a 56-storey condo tower designed by Scott Shields Architects that would be constructed behind a block of Victorian rowhouses, some of the few remaining in the district. The heritage buildings would be preserved, albeit completely dismantled and reassembled on site, with the 7-storey podium and tower rising behind. The tower features an argyle cladding pattern on its balcony facades.

8-20 Widmer, Scott Shields Architects, Claireville Holdings Limited, TorontoRendering of 8-20 Widmer, image courtesy of Claireville Holdings.

Both projects were appealed to the OMB due to a lack of timely response from the City, and both were being considered by the Board during the same time period. However, it wasn't until just before Plaza's March 28 hearing that Claireville submitted a motion to consolidate the two appeals into one, after hearing of a deal struck between Plaza and the City. The motion to consolidate was rejected by the Board, as Plaza and the City argued that Claireville had plenty of time previously to propose consolidation, and that both parties had been open to including them in negotiations, though Claireville was unwilling at that time. It was determined that Claireville was too late in their request, and that the timeliness of it constituted prejudice on the part of Claireville in an attempt to delay the application. As a result, Plaza's 30 Widmer project passed with the support of the City, while the status of Claireville's 8-20 Widmer remains undetermined. Claireville's March 30 pre-hearing at the OMB was cancelled.

Architectural plans for 8-20 Widmer show that its tower would also be 10 metres from the lot line it shares with 30 Widmer. The bigger issue for it is that Claireville Holdings are only proposing a 15 metre separation distance between their tower and 87 Peter Street, a 49-storey tower by Menkes located immediately to the west. It is currently under construction, and comes within 7.5 metres of the lot line it shares with 8-20 Widmer. All three of these towers materializing would make this block extremely dense, something that the City is unlikely to accept as proposed.

87 Peter under construction, with the Commodore Building to the north, Toronto.87 Peter under construction, with the Commodore Building to the north. Image by UT Forum contributor FreindlyFuture

In the image above, 30 Wider will replace the single-storey building at the lower right side of the screen, while the view of 87 Peter would be mostly blocked by 8-20 Widmer from this vantage point were it to be approved.

We will keep you posted as updates become available for these two developments. In the meantime, you can get in on the discussion by checking out the associated Forum threads, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.