A proposed redevelopment of the historic Waverley Hotel at 484 Spadina Avenue, just north of College, is facing a series of hurdles as the application proceeds through the planning process. Wynn Group’s proposal features a Kirkor-designed 22-storey tower consisting of 202 residential rental units aimed at university students, rising from a 2-storey retail/commercial podium, but the Planning Department's Preliminary Report on the proposal states that the application is not supportable in its current form.

484 Spadina, East elevation

Current by-laws covering the area restrict buildings to a maximum height of 16 metres with a maximum density of 3.0 times the lot area. At 74 metres tall, and with an overall density of over 10 times the lot area, the proposal will require a by-law amendment to exceed the current height and density restrictions.

Current zoning in Toronto is considered out-of-date since the introduction of Ontario's Places To Grow Act in 2005 which mandates that cities intensify, so existing by-laws are often amended to allow for larger buildings. The 484 Spadina proposal however has a bit less wiggle room than has been seen over the last few years thanks to the City's recently revised Tall Buildings Design Guidelines. Adopted by Toronto City Council in 2012, and updated in May of 2013, the Guidelines provide planning staff with a framework in which to evaluate all new and existing proposals.

484 Spadina, north elevation

While the Guidelines contain very clear recommendations regarding certain major thoroughfares, both Spadina Avenue and College Street have also been deemed ‘Special Study Streets’. Due to the significant heritage value and built form of these streets, neither has been assigned standardized heights or building typologies, and further study has been deemed necessary by the City.

In regard to the aforementioned guidelines and special study streets, city planners have expressed concerns regarding the proposed scale and massing of the development, as well as the overall height, built form, building footprint, setbacks from lot lines, and most importantly, the proposal’s compatibility and relationship within the surrounding context of an already established neighbourhood. The heritage value of the existing building onsite is also a concern with this proposal, as the 113-year-old hotel has yet to be assessed for inclusion on the City’s inventory of heritage properties. An earlier UrbanToronto story on the project looked more closely at the site's history.

Early rendering of the 484 Spadina proposal

Planning staff have identified other issues for assessment, such as the amount of proposed amenity space, affordable rental housing, parkland and public art or Section 37 contributions. These are issues that are assessed in all new development proposals. A community consultation is being planned for late fall, with a Final Report and public meeting set to follow after the completion of the City-led College Street Study. 

What are your thoughts on the proposal? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the conversation in our Projects and Construction thread on the project, linked below in association with out dataBase entry for the project.

Related Companies:  EQ Building Performance Inc., figure3 Interior Design, Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc., GBCA Architects, Kirkor Architects Planners, NAK Design Strategies