Madison Homes is preparing an application to build 67-storey building shaped like a squared-off 0 in Toronto's Entertainment District. Designed by Teeple Architects, the building is proposed at around 20 storeys taller than any of its neighbours whose heights are all within a metre or two of 157 metres, a number established when the Festival Tower above the TIFF Bell Lightbox was approved by the City.

15-25 Mercer Street in the local context, looking southeast, image from public meeting slide

Others close to the 157 metre-high mark include the Cinema Tower, Pinnacle Adelaide, 300 Front Street West, and Theatre Park, while 87 Peter and Bisha are both now rising to approximately that height, and other proposals in the area are seeking about the same. Only the proposed Mirvish+Gehry towers have been allowed by the City to go taller in the area. Mirvish+Gehry had to have an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) approved by the City, a big step beyond the Zoning Bylaw Amendments which the other projects must obtain for approval. Mirvish+Gehry's substantial public benefits offering, including a new facility for OCAD University, a new private art gallery, and public realm improvements, was a significant contributing factor in convincing City Council to grant a rare OPA.

15-35 Mercer Street height compared to neighbouring towers, image from public meeting slide

The City is concerned that the neighbourhoods west of Spadina Avenue be maintained as an area of lower buildings, so the Planning Department has been trying to have the heights of new buildings descend as they approach Spadina Avenue from the east. It may be argued by Madison Homes that their proposal fits within a new declining height maximum created by the Mirvish+Gehry peaks, but no other towers proposed for the Entertainment District other than Mirvish+Gehry have managed yet to convinced City Planning or City Council to break through that height plateau. 

15-35 Mercer Street lower floor uses, image from public meeting slide

Inside the proposal, Madison Homes is proposing both condominium suites and a high-end boutique hotel, with 1086 condominium suites in the tower portions and 163 hotel suites at the top of the podium levels. A large fitness centre and meeting spaces would take up the middle portion of the podium, while ground level would include residential lobbies, the hotel lobby, a restaurant and a café.

15-35 Mercer Street ground floor plan, image from public meeting slide 

The facades of three existing buildings would be maintained on the site, while at the west end of the site will be a porte cochère for hotel-related drop offs and pick ups. The vehicular access would connect to the east-west laneway in the back. Servicing for the complex would be off of the existing laneways, as would access to the underground garage. Level P1 would handle most building servicing needs, while the parking garage would contain 338 parking spaces and be entirely valet run. The existing buildings would be built a metre less deep, transferring that land to the City to widen the laneway in the back to current City standards.

15-35 Mercer Street lower floor view, image from public meeting slide

The renderings and other images were all presented as part of a public meeting at Metro Hall yesterday evening, held in advance of the application being submitted. They must all, therefore, be considered extremely preliminary, including the numbers presented at this point. The planning process will include extensive consultations, and many elements of this proposal could change before the application is presented to the City, and certainly there could be more change once the application is in.

15-35 Mercer Street, street view, image from public meeting slide

Renderings for the project show the building as a series of two-floor high framed window openings. Just what the framing will be, whether precast or a metal or composite material panel was not mentioned at the meeting, and it's likely that decision has not been made this early in the process yet.

Looking south towards 15-35 Mercer Street, image from public meeting slide

The renderings are also too early to look to closely for details of roof decks on any of the levels, but the City of Toronto will want to see green roofs on portions. Talk at the public consultation, where nearby residents expressed concerns regarding traffic in the area, and other concerns which all come down to the added strain on infrastructure that the new density would bring, also wondered specifically about where the dogs of owners would be taken into consideration being that the area is parkland deficient already. 

Looking east towards 15-35 Mercer Street, image from public meeting slide

One member of the public who declared he had no problems with the height was wondering if making the tower higher to slim down the floors would decrease the shadows thrown. Shadow studies will be reviewed as part of the City's planning process for the project. No-one at the meeting expressed a concern directly about the height.

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Related Companies:  Ferris + Associates Inc., Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Keller Foundations Ltd., Madison Group, The Mitchell Partnership Inc., TUCKER HIRISE Construction, Turner Fleischer Architects