Between Adelaide and Richmond in Toronto's Entertainment District, another slice of the area's low-rise past is giving way to high-rise development, with demolition now clearing the site for what will be a 41-storey tower at 40 Widmer Street. Replacing a block of Victorian row houses and another detached house-form building, the Storey Living Inc. rental project will add 426 units to the explosively growing Downtown neighbourhood. 

40 Widmer Street, Toronto, by Storey Living Inc., Graziani + CorazzaGoodbye Canadiana Backpackers, image by UT Forum contributor AHK

Designed by Graziani + Corazza Architects, the spandreled, blue-grey tower, will rise to a height of 451 feet, facing the blandly imposing rear of RioCan Hall (better known for its anchor tenant, the Scotiabank Theatre) with a brick-accented frontage. The mid-block project on a relatively quiet and short street will feature no retail uses at grade, with much of the ground level given over to the residential lobby.

40 Widmer Street, Toronto, by Storey Living Inc., Graziani + Corazza40 Widmer Street, image via submission to the City of Toronto

While the site's handsome century-old homes—long partially occupied by Canadiana Backpackers—were identified as "contributing properties" in the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD), none of the individual buildings at 40-58 Widmer were designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. Since the initial submission for the redevelopment (first tabled in 2011) also preceded the creation of the HCD, the City's final report did not object to the demolition. 

40 Widmer Street, Toronto, by Storey Living Inc., Graziani + CorazzaA closer look at the demolition, image by UT Forum contributor AHK

Kicking off the construction process a week after the Province of Ontario announced expanded rent control measures, the project is going ahead despite what is widely perceived as a regulatory disincentive among developers.

40 Widmer Street, Toronto, by Storey Living Inc., Graziani + CorazzaThe street level, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Although the closing of the so-called '1991 loophole' limits the potential revenue gained through long-term rent increases—protecting tenants from drastic shocks—the project's advancement may signal the continuing viability of purpose-built rental development. However, given the investment already poured into planning and development process for the 40 Widmer site, the continuation of a longstanding project is at best an imperfect barometer of Toronto's future rental development.

40 Widmer Street, Toronto, by Storey Living Inc., Graziani + CorazzaA contextual aerial view, image via submission to the City of Toronto

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the project continues to move forward.  In the meantime, make sure to check out our newly updated dataBase file, linked below, for additional information. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our Forum.