A pair of towers proposed for Toronto's popular Distillery District have been given a green light by City Council after rounds of mediation and negotiations at the OMB, albeit with significant revisions to both. The properties in question are 60 Mill Street, located at the northeast corner of Mill and Trinity Streets at the northern edge of the district, and 31R Parliament Street (also referred to as 31A Parliament), located in the Triangle Lands sandwiched between the southern parking lot in the District and the rail corridor.
Both proposals were initially opposed by the City and appealed to the OMB, where their appeals were combined into a single case to be considered as one. Recently, a settlement was reached between the City and the developers regarding both projects, which was endorsed by City Council at their session two weeks ago. The decision awaits a finalized settlement at the OMB, with a hearing scheduled at the beginning of May. No new renderings have been released for the revised buildings, however, several details have emerged that give us a snapshot of what may materialize.
Beginning with 60 Mill Street, a proposal from Cityscape and Dream Developments was first submitted in 2011 that would see a 34-storey tower constructed on the property while retaining the heritage facade of the former 6-storey rack house that currently occupies the site. Featuring a design from Montreal-based firm Saucier + Perrotte Architectes, the building would house an 88-suite hotel on its lower 7 storeys, while the remaining 26 storeys would host 246 new condo units, rising to a total height of 118 metres (387 ft). The rumoured tenant of the building was the Gansevoort Hotel Group.
The approved version of 60 Mill Street has significantly altered its massing. The settlement stipulates a maximum height of 40 metres (131 ft) allowed on the site including the mechanical penthouse, which amounts to a roughly 9-12 storey tower. The zoning by-law will be amended to allow office, hotel, retail, restaurant, and/or residential uses, with a maximum hotel or residential gross floor area (GFA) of 12,750 m2 (137,240 sq ft), and a maximum office GFA of 10,100 m2 (108,715 sq ft). Heritage also played an important part of the settlement: the east, south, and west walls of the existing heritage building must be retained in situ, while the north wall may be dismantled and rebuilt. In addition, space on the ground floor of the building must be set aside for a publicly-accessible heritage interpretation area. Saucier + Perrotte have remained as the architects of the project.
Moving south to 34R Parliament Street, owners Cityscape and Dream Developments revealed a proposal in 2014 for a 57-storey tower designed by KPMB Architects that included a 4-storey "ribbon building" extending eastward along the south edge of the Distillery District. The tower component would house 496 condo units and the ribbon component would contain office uses, while the ground floor of the development would be given over to retail use. The initial proposal rose to a height of 189.5 metres (622 ft). More recently, following a study by city planning, City Council adopted an Official Plan Amendment in 2016 that would allow a maximum height of 45 storeys on the site of the development.
The revised version of 34R Parliament has been reduced in height to a maximum of 165.7 metres (544 ft) for the tower component including mechanical penthouse, which amounts to a total floor count somewhere between 40 and 50 storeys. A maximum tower floor plate area has been stipulated at 910 m2 (9,975 sq ft), which exceeds the City's recommended 750 m2 maximum outlined in the Tall Building Design Guidelines. For the ribbon component, a maximum height has been set at 23.7 metres, which equals about 5 storeys of typical office space. The total GFA for the whole development has been capped at 67,400 m2 (725,490 sq ft). In addition, a cafe/retail component is allowed to occupy the open space at the eastern end between the new building, Cherry Street, and the existing Distillery buildings to the north. KPMB have remained as the architects of the project.
In addition to the revised designs, the OMB settlement also contains some intriguing Section 37 agreements, where a total of $3.2 million will be given to the City for several important nearby projects. One third of this money will be put toward the First Parliament Site, a future development on the former site of Upper Canada's first parliament buildings at the southwest corner of Front and Parliament Streets. Another third of the Section 37 money will go toward the proposed Toronto Aboriginal Hub in the neighbouring Canary District, a new health and community centre that would consolidate the various locations of Anishnawbe Health. The final third of the money will go toward public realm and streetscape improvements within the Distillery District, which includes allowances in the design of the new ribbon building to permit a potential north-south pedestrian underpass below the rail corridor that may connect to the upcoming 3C Waterfront development.
The implications of these forthcoming approvals also impacts two other major developments in the area. The first is the 49-storey condo tower proposed at 31 Parliament Street, directly to the west of 31R Parliament, which was announced last year much to the opposition of city planning. Another project is the ongoing Distillery District Heritage Conservation District Study, which is looking at the potential of establishing an HCD for the Distillery District that includes the two developments detailed above. It is unclear how the City's support of the two new towers will affect these projects, and vice versa.
Stay tuned for more information on these new developments as they appear, with new renderings hopefully coming over the next few months. 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.