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Toronto Retail Design Manual

Kenojuak

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Received the following communication from BILD. Link to the manual: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/u...oronto-Retail-Design-Manual-December-2019.pdf

Members of the BILD Toronto Chapter:
Please be advised that the City of Toronto has released a draft Retail Design Manual for your review and comments. The Manual is targeted to be reported to the Planning and Housing Committee on March 23rd, 2020.

The Manual is organized into three major themes including: (1) the building, (2) the street & retail frontage and (3) the retail space.
The City has expressed that the Manual is a collection of best practices and is intended to provide guidance on developing successful ground floor retail spaces. The intent is also to provide aspirational retail design best practices to inform, guide, inspire and educate architects, retail designers, City staff and the development community.

The Manual is provided as a resource to a wide variety of stakeholders involved in the design and development of retail. Each of these user groups will refer to this document in a different way and at different stages in the planning, design and development process. Some best practices are direct and provide guidance on quantitative measures (e.g. ground floor heights), while others are more qualitative or are intended to guide tenants at later stages of development (e.g. lighting).

A number of the best practices, such as recommendations for MEP - Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing for example, are not subject to City Planning review or oversight. Again, these are included in this document only as a resource for developers, architects, and retail designers to consider as they develop the retail program and space.
Despite these lofty claims that this document is an aspirational guide of best practices etc., I think we all know that City Staff, especially UD, will attempt to use these as rules, further complicating and extending the jurisdictional overreach by certain departments in the development review process.
 
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jje1000

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It's definitely a fine line to walk between being overly prescriptive and fussy, and being a set of toothless suggestions that developers would be happy to disregard.

Most of the best retail strips in Toronto emerged without any sort of strict guidelines ages ago- spaces like Kensington Market would be in total violation of most modern guidelines.

At the same time, these guides seem to be attempts to guard against the worst aspects of societal drift (think the move towards ugly back-lit & LED signage, and the emergence of mega retail units in megapodiums)- how our cities developed even 60-70 years ago is far different than the way they develop now.

On top of that- that most new retail is developed and managed by large, risk-aversive corporations (resulting in endless 'safe' Rexalls, BMOs and Shoppers) rather than smaller owner-developers is another larger underlying issue that simple design guidelines can't address.
 
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ADRM

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From an outcomes standpoint, it's also troubling that they chose "best practice" images that in some cases feature exclusively conglomerate chain tenants (Shoppers and Subway in one; Shoppers and LCBO in another), including a company whose stores are one of the worst offenders in terms of street presence (Shoppers). The last one (below) is better at grade, but I still don't think the City should be encouraging massive flat expanses of curtainwall.

IMHO, if this is indeed an aspirational document, those sorts of precedents shouldn't be found anywhere in there.

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DSC

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Must say these look like useful guidelines (and they are clear that's what they are) and they seem to be aimed at making BETTER retail space - for customers, retailers and 'the streetscape'. Looking at all the good examples in the publication reminds me of the ones that are NOT!
 

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