Currently making its way through the City's review process, Streetcar Developments' Riverside Square would see an underutilized plot of land along Queen Street East transformed into a four-building residential and retail complex. The Riverside District, home to many quirky shops and trendy restaurants, is a predominantly low-rise neighbourhood populated with several heritage structures. While integrating the modern design and layout of Riverside Square with the surrounding community could prove to be a challenge, Streetcar has planned the project with connectivity and context in mind. 

The proposed 24-storey tower, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

Though Riverside is a well-established neighbourhood, with dozens of Victorian and Edwardian-style homes occupying tree-lined streets which flank mature storefronts on Queen Street, there are some gaps in the streetscape. One of the most glaring gaps is the over four acres of underused land where a Toyota dealership and two aging warehouses now stand. Sitting in between the Don Valley Parkway and Broadview Avenue, the potential of the site to act as a gateway to Riverside is huge. 

The site is currently accommodating a Toyota dealership, image by Marcus Mitanis

Unlike many developments on a site this size, Riverside Square will be built within a neighbourhood that has already been largely developed. To help manage the large swath of land, Streetcar will develop the project in two phases. The first will be handled by RAW Design with Giannone Petricone Associates taking the second half. With 894 units proposed throughout the site, the demand for a diverse selection of commercial spaces will be met by ground floor retail. Streetcar is hoping to bring a grocery store, cafes, restaurants and a daycare to the development. 

The public plaza at the south end of the site, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

Riverside's built form lends itself to walkability. To provide a gathering space for pedestrians that roam the area, a public plaza has been proposed for the project. The plaza will act as the terminus to a woonerf street that will accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and drivers while a mix of retail spaces help animate the network of streets within the site. All parking will be located underground and in an above-ground covered garage, shielded from public view. 

Retail at ground level will help animate the plaza, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

The height and massing of many condominium buildings can dominate the existing buildings around them. Concerns about shadowing and traffic are often expressed by nearby residents. To help alleviate some of these concerns, the height and density of the development will be located away from Queen Street. Four-storey buildings along Queen will help maintain the mid-rise character of the street as the scale increases to seven storeys further south into the site. A 13-storey tower will stand at the eastern border of the site while a 24-storey point tower accents the south end.

Buildings will step up in height further south into the site, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

Architecturally, the use of glass, precast brick, metal and steel will ensure the modern development stands out among its peers of brick-clad storefronts and homes. However, more appropriate materials, including brick and precast concrete, have been proposed to complement the neighbouring storefronts on Queen Street. 

A brick facade on Queen aims to reflect the neighbourhood character, image courtesy of Streetcar Dedevelopments

The existing Toyota dealership will be relocated to the west end of the site facing the Don Valley Parkway. Four other showrooms will be housed within two buildings, represented by the preliminary render below. The location of the showrooms allows drivers passing by to view what will essentially be a permanent advertisement, not unlike the nearby BMW and Mini dealerships. 

Five showrooms will occupy the west border of the site, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

Some master-planned communities have been scolded for what is viewed as a lack of connectivity and harmony with the surrounding neighbourhood. As a neighbourhood with relatively high pedestrian and cyclist traffic, Streetcar has plans to accommodate movement to and from Riverside Square. The western border of the site is East Don Roadway, which currently comes to a dead end. Though the plans will have to be vetted by municipal officials, Streetcar hopes to extend access south to a patch of greenspace contained within the Eastern Avenue DVP on-ramp. The reclaimed park would act as a safe passageway for cyclists seeking to travel on Eastern Avenue. A proposed route along the southern edge of Eastern Avenue would also connect Riverside Square with Corktown Common and the emerging West Don Lands neighbourhood. 

Proposed site and circulation plan, image courtesy of Streetcar Developments

Any development of this scale has to be sensitive to its surroundings. The Neo-Classical Postal Station G and the Romanesque New Broadview Hotel have been considered local landmarks by residents of Riverside. Streetcar, whose offices are located just steps away from the site, has already made their mark on the area with projects like Sync Lofts. In fact, their recent acquisition of the New Broadview Hotel has piqued the interest of many in the community who have long desired for something other than the strip club which had occupied the building for years. Streetcar unveiled plans for the Queen and Broadview property just last month, promising to restore the tired building and convert it into a boutique hotel and rooftop bar. As Streetcar continues to establish its ongoing relationship with Riverside, their commitment to preserving the special character of the neighbourhood should remain a priority. 

The New Broadview Hotel, image by Marcus Mitanis

For more information about Riverside Square, visit our dataBase file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided. 

Related Companies:  Baker Real Estate Inc., BVGlazing Systems, DesignAgency, Dream Unlimited, ERA Architects, Giannone Petricone Associates, Giovanni A. Tassone Architects, Heughes Canada Inc, Kentwood, Maryann Thompson Architects, McIntosh Perry, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Montana Steele, RAW Design, Seven Haus Design, Streetcar Developments, TACT Architecture, tcgpr (The Communications Group), The Planning Partnership, urbanMetrics inc., Waterfront Toronto