In June 2012 the City of Toronto received a proposal by Greenpark Homes to demolish the Victorian row houses on the west side of Widmer Avenue between Richmond and Adelaide Streets in the Entertainment District. The low-rise buildings would be replaced with a 40-storey mixed use tower where the first and second floors would be used for commerical purposes, while 380 residential units would rise above. On December 10th, 2012, a public consultation was held to review the Graziani + Corazza-designed proposal and ask the proponent and City staff questions.
The Planning Department has now released their Preliminary Report on the proposal. As is typical for new building proposals in Toronto, the proposal exceeds the maximum allowed height of 30 metres on the site by approximately 100 metres, and the proposed density is greater than allowed, so a zoning by-law amendment is required. There are also issues surrounding the amount of outdoor amenity space, plus, subject to further review, the Department has identified the following issues to be resolved in seven areas:
- Conformity with the existing Urban Structure and Built Form policies of the King-Spadina Secondary Plan, including the requirement that development result in a built form and massing which is complementary to the historic physical fabric of the area;
- Conformity with the Design Criteria for Review of Tall Building Proposals including transition in scale, tower separation distances, adjacency issues, and pedestrian realm. In particular, the separation distances currently proposed are not supportable and will need to be increased;
- Provision for reduced on-site resident and visitor parking including impacts on the supply of on-street parking in the area;
- Traffic and access circulation;
- Shadow impacts on Queen Street West and the Queen Street West Heritage Conservation District;
- The mix of unit sizes; and
- How the proposed development responds to the heritage character of the area.
Toronto's Official Plan looks at this area as being able to accommodate a mixture of residential and commercial structures and that intersification is key to the area as it will attract more citizens and tourists to the Downtown core, while Heritage Toronto seeks to ensure that not all vestiges of the past are obliterated here. No doubt the proposal will evolve over the coming months. A final report with Planning Department recommendations is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013.