As the ongoing redevelopment of Regent Park transforms a neighbourhood’s status from infamous to innovative, new interest has been sparked in the abundant development opportunities found in many of downtown's lower-income, higher-density communities. Properties on the edge of one such neighbourhood, St James Town, caught the eye of Lanterra Developments a few years ago, and resulted in an ambitious four-tower proposal first sent to the City on 2010. Towers in the plan would, controversially, rise as high as 56 storeys.
Now, following a thoroughgoing consultation process, an impressive revised proposal has been re-submitted, addressing the concerns of city planning staff as well as community residents. Like the previous proposal, the revised plans propose a multi-tower, architectsAlliance-designed development of the area bounded by Bloor, Sherbourne, Parliament and Howard Streets, divided into three blocks. This checkerboard of lots, which form much of the northern edge of the St James Town neighbourhood, is home to an impressive but badly faded collection of late nineteenth-century houses – several of which are now destined to be restored and incorporated into the planned redevelopment.
Block 1, at the west end of the site, and the northeast corner of Sherbourne and Howard, will feature a 45-storey residential tower (reduced from 50 storeys in the previous proposal) rising from a 2-storey retail podium. The vintage 1894 red brick home currently occupying the site at 603 Sherbourne St, also known as the Anson Jones House, will be restored and incorporated into the ground floor of the tower, while the adjacent historic property will be partially retained.
The revised Block 2 plan calls for a 4-storey townhouse row (one storey shorter than the previous proposal), plus a row of abandoned semi-detached homes built between 1883 and 1888—stretching from 6 to 16 Glen Road—will be fully restored and incorporated into the block.
Similar to the previously submitted proposal, plans for Block 3 call for three towers to rise from the large flatiron shaped block formed by Howard St, Bloor St, and Edgedale Rd, with the point aimed east at Parliament Street. The scaled back towers are planned to stand at 12, 37 and 45-storeys (reduced considerably from 56, 46 and 53-storeys respectively), rising from a shared podium. The 12 and 37-storey buildings, containing over 9,270 square-feet of retail space at grade, will feature a linear modernist design meant to complement the existing built form in the neighbourhood to the south.
The third and arguably most intriguing structure in the plans for Block 3 is modestly referred to as “Building 3-C”. This 45-storey tower is planned to sit at the eastern extremity of the redevelopment site, set off from the rest of Block 3 by an outdoor terrace/green space on the podium roof. The standout design of Buildng 3-C uses sweeping curves to take full advantage of the flatiron shaped site, providing the Bloor-Howard-Parliament intersection with a distinctive visual anchor of potential landmark status.
Heritage preservation is a defining element in the North St James Town proposal. In addition to the restoration of 6 to 16 Glen Rd. and 603 Sherbourne Street, the proposal calls for the preservation and relocation of 76 Howard St to another vacant site in the neighbourhood. This practice of adaptive reuse and urban conservationism stands in stark contrast to the shortsighted planning policies that resulted in the destructive blockbusting redevelopment of the neighbourhood to the south in the mid-20th century.
If the above plans are approved, the North St James Town Redevelopment will bring 1,241 condominium and rental units (reduced from 1,840 units in the previous proposal) to the northern edge of what is already Canada’s densest residential community. Bloor-Danforth line subway stations are located near its eastern and western extremities.
To go into more detail regarding unit layouts and density; the 1,241 proposed units on three combined blocks are broken down as follows: Bachelor – 158 (12.7%) 1 Bedroom – 363 (29.3%) 1 Bedroom+Den – 358 (28.8%) 2 Bedroom – 150 (12.1%) 2 Bedroom+Den – 123 (9.9%) 3 Bedroom – 76 (6.1%) Townhouse – 7 (0.6%) Semi-Detached – 6 (0.5%) . Parking for the development will include a total of 512 spaces including 453 occupant spaces, 50 visitor spaces, 9 retail spaces and 8 handicapped spaces. As many downtown communities rely heavily on alternative forms of transportation, the project is also slated to accommodate 832 bicycle parking spaces – 658 for occupants, 166 for visitors and 8 for retail.
UrbanToronto will be sure to provide updates as more information emerges on this much anticipated development. For additional information and renderings regarding this project, please visit the dataBase page linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the related forum thread, here, or voice your opinion in the comments section below.
|Related Companies:||Concert Properties, EQ Building Performance Inc., IBI Group, Janet Rosenberg + Studio|