Another high-rise tower could be coming to Toronto's Entertainment District. Although the project is still in the pre-submission phase, yesterday's Ward 20 community consultation brought to light the first details of a 56-storey tower proposed at 8-20 Widmer Street by Claireville Holdings Limited. 

8-20 Widmer Street, image courtesy of Scott Shields Architects

Together with local Councillor Joe Cressy, area residents got a first-hand preview of the plans, and a chance to discuss the impacts the tower might have on the community. As currently planned, the project would preserve the row of historic townhouses that line the Widmer Street frontage, with a podium overhang—supported by tall columns—allowing for an expanded floor plate in the tower above. 

Podium, 8-20 Widmer Street, image courtesy of Scott Shields Architects

Designed by Scott Shields Architects—until recently known as Scott Morris Architects—the tower's height would exceed the 'clothes line' parameters set out by the City. The clothes line provides a height criterion for the Downtown core between University and Spadina Avenue, with a 157-metre limit prescribed for the Entertainment District (below). 

An illustration of the clothes line height criterion, image courtesy of Bousfields Inc

Since the tower surpasses the approximately 47-storey limit set out for the area, advancing the planning process may prove somewhat complex. Immediately to the north, for example, the proposed Theatre District Condos was reduced in height from 51 to 47 storeys in order to fit within the parameter last year. The regulations are occasionally relaxed for certain projects, however—perhaps most notably Mirvish + Gehry—and the preservation of historic townhouses at street level has been presented as grounds for allowing a height increase by the developer.

The current properties at 8-20 Widmer, image retrieved via Google Maps

Up above, the tower is characterized by an argyle cladding pattern, which would likely prove the design's most distinguishing feature in the skyline. With the project still in the preliminary pre-approval phase, however, both the massing and the architectural expression are subject to change. 

Worm's-eye view, 8-20 Widmer Street, image courtesy of Scott Shields Architects

The condition of the existing townhouses at 8-20 Widmer Street has been assessed as poor. According to reports from the meeting, the condition of the foundations and walls would require these properties to be disassembled and reconstructed on site, with the architects planning for the properties to sit atop the tower's basement. Behind the townhouses, a slim 7-storey podium would give way to the larger residential floors above. 

Technical drawing showing the historic facades, image courtesy of Scott Shields Architects

We will keep you updated as more details—and complete renderings—of the project become available over the coming months. In the meantime, make sure to check out our associated dataBase file for more information. Want to share your thoughts on the project? Feel free to leave a comment below this page, or join in the ongoing discussion on our Forum

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