Toronto Waterlink at Pier 27 | 43.89m | 14s | Cityzen | a—A

District Lofts on the waterfront?

Yeah this project reminds me of Clewe's early 2000's project by Context: District Lofts@Richmond&Spadina. It features a pedestrian bridge(s) and looks very good. No way will this project on that hideous stretch of Yonge St/Waterfront ruin the area; rather it will act much like 20 Niagara did to the Niagara/Bathurst/Stewart St corridor: set a precedent for attractive modern design with increased pedestrian activity! Nice to look forward to another interpretation--probably glassier this time around. The only thing i wonder: who'd want to live there? (Middle of noman's land imho.)
The only thing i wonder: who'd want to live there? (Middle of noman's land imho.)

How could a place in downtown Toronto a few steps from the foot of Yonge, across the street from Toronto Star, next door to a Westin hotel, and a short one block walk to a grocery store be classified as the middle of no-man's land? What would that make the rest of the GTA?

It's not exactly the Annex, or Little Italy, or even the Beach. Know what i'm saying? Kind of cold and sterile (you feel--or at least i do!--isolated from the city and not part of a community other then your condo committee.) All neighbourhoods have grocery stores and some sort of hotel accommodations; but established hoods have so much more than that! So waterfront properties (don't know if you know anyone that lives in them--i do) are like mini suburbs in this strange "no man's land" Toronto. Don't know why exactly (i've explained my reasons) they feel that way, but it really is a different vibe than living in a house (or even condo on say Stewart St--LV possibly has a similar isolated feel.)

Whatever the problems, I'm happy some decent architecture is finally coming to waterfront. I've always been slightly embarrassed by the crassness of the stuff you see coming in on the Gardiner (Waterclub, Rivera, etc) so i'll take some nice towers by Aa. A new beginning!
From the Star:

Waterfront plan from a different era
May 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Christopher Hume

Some days, the Toronto waterfront is a symbol of the city that could be.

Others, it's a monument to civic dysfunction.

Most days, it's a bit of both.

Consider the case of MT27, the 5-hectare site just east of the foot of Yonge St. As this is being written, workers are clearing land to build a showroom, the first step in a massive condo complex that could eventually comprise 1,500 to 2,000 units in four or five buildings.

The city approved the residential development, as did the Ontario Municipal Board, fully a decade ago. In the meantime, everything has changed. Back then the idea of revitalizing the waterfront was barely a twinkle in the city's eye. Now, of course, it's a major priority – or so we are told.

But the way the rules work in Toronto, once given, an approval lasts forever, even after the project has been completely changed and the context irrevocably altered.

When the site was zoned for residential, the waterfront was barely on the political agenda. Keep in mind that the land was sold to a developer by what was then called the Toronto Harbour Commission, a federal agency and forerunner of the much despised Toronto Port Authority, which has been fighting the city for years.

Shortly after it was created by the three levels of government in 2001, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. set out to buy back MT27 from then owner, Avro Quay Ltd. Though it had $50 million set aside for that purpose, the asking price was higher, too high in fact.

"When I came here in 2003," says TWRC president, John Campbell, "we were dealing with Avro trying to create a public destination at the foot of Yonge. Since then, the site has been sold but we're still in discussion with the new owners (Fernbrook Homes and Cityzen). We haven't given up and we still own the old Torstar property, about 1.3 acres."

Campbell, an eternal optimist, is adamant that the TWRC, Cityzen and Fernbrook can still arrive at some agreement that would give the developers what they want but also allow the corporation to include a public space.

The problem is that any such arrangement would mean taller buildings – there's no other direction to go but up. Given the debacle of Queens Quay W., the concrete condo curtain that stretches from Spadina to Bay, there isn't a politician or public agency that would willingly go along with such a scenario.

This may be absurd, but that's how it is.

Campbell's optimism is based on the ownership of the Torstar lands and the legal requirement for a 25-metre pedestrian right-of-way along the water's edge. He argues that these put him in a good bargaining position with the developers.

"We're going for a win-win," Campbell insists.

Maybe he's right to be so positive; what developer wouldn't want to be able to offer waterfront condos beside a beautiful new public space?

Of course, waterfront corporations in other cities have much greater powers than does the TWRC – for instance, the right of expropriation. Even when it isn't used, it lends a certain urgency to negotiations with private owners.

Campbell, however, rejects the need for such drastic power.

"I'm not sure that expropriation would have changed anything," he says. "We're looking for huge private-sector investment on the waterfront; what kind of message would that send?"

Besides, Fernbrook and Cityzen have signalled their intention to do something worthwhile by hiring Toronto architect Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, one of the city's best residential designers. Clewes also happens to be a member of the Toronto Waterfront Design Review Panel, which means he is fully aware of the revitalization objectives.

Ironically, the first project the panel examined and approved, albeit reluctantly, is the headquarters for Corus Entertainment to be built on city-owned land on Queens Quay east of the condos. In its rush to attract jobs to the waterfront, the city has approved a mediocre project and given Corus a sweetheart deal that will save the corporation tens of millions of dollars over the next few decades.

Meanwhile, farther east at the mouth of the Don River, on land owned by Home Depot, projects are taking shape that could fly in the face of TWRC plans.

"Our big fear," Campbell says, "is that we would have to buy back land from Home Depot to run a river through the site."

"There will be bumps along the way," he admits. "But we're gaining momentum."

Campbell's glass may be half full, but the city's is looking increasingly empty.

From port facility to condos

1911: Toronto Harbour Commission set up under federal charter to manage Port of Toronto. Main asset is 809 hectares of land and water lots that city turned over to the commission to manage.

1960s: THC builds port facilities, including Marine Terminal 27 at the foot of Yonge St., to handle anticipated boom in shipping. By 1986, the site is declared surplus.

Summer 1986: To clear debt, Harbour Commission sells 3.6-hectare site south of Queens Quay and east of Yonge – MT27 – to Avro Group, headed by developer Phil Roth, for what city council calls a "bargain basement" $24.6 million.

October 1986: THC agrees to reopen negotiations with Avro in hopes of getting more money for the land.

November 1986: Council asks federal government to block the sale, saying the price is too low. Land sale eventually completed.

March 1987: Proposal to transform warehouse on MT27 into weekend antique market.

April 1987: As a result of the controversial land deal, council decides THC chair Fred Eisen, lawyer Andy Paton and Alderman Tom Clifford will not be reappointed.

April 1987: MT27 touted as site for new Metro Hall.

1988: Location considered a front-runner for proposed $230 million ballet-opera house. Most of the land remains in Avro Group ownership, with a small portion owned by Torstar Corp. Roth offers to donate some of the site for the arts complex, in return for increased density on the remainder, where he plans to build two office towers.

Late '80s to early 1990s: City places holding bylaw on waterfront lands during Olympic bid, freezes development.

1996: Avro gets land rezoned for residential use, allowing about 1,400 condos.

2002: OMB permits 2,000 residential units at MT27 but restricts height to 14 storeys.

2005: Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. attempts to buy the land but doesn't have enough money.

2005: TWRC pays Torstar $12.5 million for a half hectare just east of Captain John's restaurant (now a parking lot).

May 12, 2007: Current developers Cityzen and Fernbrook Homes unveil plans for a complex of five buildings with 1,500 to 2,000 units. Marketing to begin early this summer with construction of first phaseto be completed over next 2 1/2 years. A 25-metre waterfront promenade proposed.

July 4, 2007: Cityzen and Fernbrook to go before Toronto's committee of adjustment for site plan approval.
Compiled by Leslie Ferenc

The 14 floor height restriction on this site seems totally idiotic to me (so par for the course at the OMB*). As this is immediately east of the 38 floor Harbour Castle Westin, 14 floors will be dwarfed. Let this project go higher on the west side, and bring the building heights down to the east. Free up more waterside land for the public by going higher on a smaller footprint.


*Not that everything the OMB does idiotic - but I would put the ratio at about 2:1 for idiotic to sensible.
25 floors would be better to taper off the wall of concrtete to the west of it. If the city can stop the Airport bridge, why can't they stop this?
It’s time for Toronto to change its zoning laws. They city should have every right to change zoning or remove project approval if enough time lapses.
For me it's the Westin's gargantuan, ugly parking garage/podium, not the towers above it, which are the problem.

Since the Westin is there though, let's bring the heights to the east down incrementally. I like Andrew3D's suggestion of 25 floors for the closest one.


For me it's the Westin's gargantuan, ugly parking garage/podium, not the towers above it, which are the problem.

I think the entire complex (towers included) has a dubious urban presence - just like the others towers between York and Bay. If there is a location where scale matters, I think this is it.


You can register at Judging by the survey, these buildings are going to be very high end with a big price tag.

I think the entire complex (towers included) has a dubious urban presence - just like the others towers between York and Bay. If there is a location where scale matters, I think this is it.


...but since we can't do anything about the existing hotel structure, we're really just disagreeing on how best to ameliorate the situation with the next development, aren't we?