As we wrap up another exciting year in Toronto's development industry, it's time to reflect on the many proposals that made a splash over the past 12 months, and to get excited for what 2016 has in store! Over the past few days, we've been going over some of 2015's best residential projects—as voted by our readers—and we now bring you overviews of some of the year's most interesting proposals. In addition to a wealth of individual tower proposals—which are covered in a companion article—this past year has seen a wealth of multi-tower complexes and master-planned community proposals too. Depending on who you talk to, each of the proposals have received glowing praise from some while attracting the ire of of others.
We've put together a curated list of what we believe to be the most intriguing new complexes and communities that will help shape the future of Toronto, so let's take a quick look at a few of the more exciting large-scale proposals that grabbed our attention over the past year!
Back in February, State Building Group introduced a major proposal for a vacant parking lot at 400 Front Street West. The plan includes four new architectsAlliance-designed towers: two office towers of 24 and 25 storeys along Front Street to the south, and two condo towers of 58 and 60 storeys situated at the northeast corner along Wellington. As well, a two storey pavilion is proposed as a community or cultural venue, and plenty of new public space will be incorporated, allowing easier access to Clarence Square. There have been concerns expressed regarding the height of the towers and make-up of the public realm plan, and a revised proposal is likely to be revealed sometime in the new year, but the prospect of this proposal for the area around Clarence Square neighbourhood is intriguing to say the least.
400 Front will be located directly across Spadina Avenue from The Well, another massive mixed-use proposal—first announced in 2014 and now approved by the City—comprising four new towers, several mid-rises, extensive new retail, and promising major changes in the future for this former industrial area.
A couple of kilometres to the northwest, one proposal that garnered plenty of attention this year was Westbank's redevelopment of the Honest Ed's site in Mirvish Village (below). A unique project designed by Henriquez Partners Architects of Vancouver, it will include three residential micro-towers and a host of mid-rises comprising nearly 1000 new rental units spread over the two block site. Along with the residential component, the Victorians along Markham Street will be preserved and restored, and a new artist community established in the revitalized neighbourhood. The public realm will also see vast improvements, with a woonerf, a public market, pedestrianized shopping streets, and a biking centre. The proposal is notable for its composition of skinny towers, each with its own aesthetic, mimicking the narrow vertical division of many historic shopping avenues across the city. This proposal definitely turned heads when it surfaced in March, and continues to be a hot topic into the new year.
Another large proposal by Westbank—this time in partnership with Allied Properties REIT—could transform a stretch of King Street (489 to 539) just west of Spadina (mapped below). The proposal comes on the back of Allied's earlier plan for a 12-storey building at 495 King West. Now, with more land under their joint ownership, Allied and Westbank plan to intensify most of the 189-metre stretch, which contains protected heritage properties at its centre. Although renderings have not yet become available, we know that the developers have engaged renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels—of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)—and that that the project has grown significantly in scale from Allied's initial proposal.
On the other side of the immediate Downtown core, First Gulf's redevelopment plans for the site surrounding Lever Brothers site (below) by the mouth of the Don River are taking shape. Current plans call for 12 million square feet of new office space to be developed in the area. Site redevelopment is happening with three main parties in lockstep—First Gulf who own 28 acres, The City of Toronto who own roughly 20 acres, and the remaining land owners who together round out this 60-acre strategic area. First Gulf bought the site in 2012, and are now proceeding with plans to re-purpose the 225,000 square foot factory building for office use and lease out the large warehouse as the first step of a large scale redevelopment of the site, which carries the working title "Project 21".
Further up the Don, plans have emerged for Tridel's redevelopment for the former Inn on the Park hotel site on Leslie Street north of Eglinton Avenue (below). The proposed development, which will be marketed as On The Park, would feature four high-rise residential towers designed by Graziani + Corazza. The buildings are proposed to range in height from 28 to 39 storeys and contain 1,380 residential units, while an additional 20 three-storey townhouse units and 943 square metres of commercial retail space would engage the ground level at the site.
Returning downtown, Kingsett Capital and Quadrangle have teamed up for an eye-popping proposal at 385 Yonge, this time featuring two residential towers of 73 and 62 storeys connected by a sky-bridge at the 51st and 52nd floors. The proposal, located at the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard, would feature ground-level retail incorporated in two restored heritage facades, a nine-storey retail and office podium, and amenities for the residential units located in the raised sky bridge (seen above). Complementing the radical and much-loved Ryerson Student Learning Centre to the south, the architecture of this proposal generated considerable excitement when it was announced in July. While not everyone was wooed by the daring design, the sheer audacity of this proposal should give hope that bolder submissions will not be merely the exception in the parade of proposals received by City Planning. We look forward to this proposal moving forward!
Finally, let's take a look at another of the biggest surprises of the year, just across Yonge Street: Great Eagle Holdings announcement of massive redevelopment plans for the Eaton Chelsea Hotel site at Yonge and Gerrard (seen below). The architectsAlliance-designed proposal features four towers of 46, 50, 74, and 80 storeys that will bring nearly 1,900 residential units and 300 hotel suites to the quickly densifying Yonge Street corridor. The project will also feature a redesigned streetscape with significant new public realm to accommodate the influx of new residents. Though it is still in its early stages and will likely morph somewhat in the coming year, the proposal has generated plenty of interest given its massive scale and potential impact. Located down the street from Aura at College Park, this proposal joins 385 Yonge and Aura at what could become one of Toronto's densest, tallest, and most exciting intersections.
What do you think was Toronto's most exciting and significant proposed complex in 2015? Share your thoughts with us by commenting in the space below this page, or by joining in the discussion on one of our associated Forum threads.