Another high-rise tower has been proposed for Toronto's Entertainment District, with a rezoning application submitted to the City to allow a 59-storey building at 100 Simcoe Street. Situated on the west side of Simcoe between Pearl and Adelaide Streets, the project would replace a 5.5-storey office building—and an adjoining 6-storey parking garage—with a 50-storey tower atop a 9-storey base building.

An architectural drawing of the 59-storey tower, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Submitted on behalf of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, the proposal features a design by Toronto's Diamond Schmitt Architects. A total of 524 units are proposed, along with 17,171 m² of office space—housed within the 9-storey podium building—and 785 m² of street-level retail space. A 4-storey parking underground garage is also planned, accessible from Pearl Street. 

A rendering of the base building, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

In an attempt to reflect the warehouse typology that characterizes the area, the project's base building features brick accents along the first 5.5 storeys, meeting the scale of the existing office building and the surrounding streetwall. Meanwhile, the 59-storey tower would rise to a height of 188.9 metres, with the mechanical penthouse topping out at 197.9 metres.  

The site plan, showing building heights, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

At the lower levels, most of the 2,930 m² site would be taken up by the podium building's 2,552 m² base. Past the 5th floor's brick frontage, the podium structure slims out to 2,290 m² through floors 6 and 7 and then again to 1,906 m² on floor eight, with the 9th floor's 906 m² footprint negotiating the transition to the tower levels above. From there, the tower floorplate is gradually reduced from 840 m² (floors 10-21) to 716 m² (floors 22-24), 662 m² (floors 25-44), and finally down to 645 m² (floors 45-59).

East and north elevations (l-r), image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Fronting Simcoe Street, the site is currently occupied by a 5.5-storey office building, with the 6-storey parking garage located immediately to the west. Both buildings span the full length of the block from Pearl to Adelaide. While the removal of the parking garage (which was built in 2000 to replace a previous parking facility) is not likely to present a planning obstacle, the removal of the adjoining office building poses a more complex planning issue.

The site in June 2016, looking northwest from Simcoe and Pearl, image via Google Maps

As outlined in a heritage report prepared by ERA Architects, the oldest component of the existing property is a 3.5-storey structure built in 1905. Situated on the northwest corner of Simcoe and Pearl, this building was extensively modified in the following decades, with a north extension added in 1907. A two-storey addition was built in 1983, with subseuqent modifications made to the structure throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

A visual history of the building at 100 Simcoe (click for a closer view), image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

The property is not designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, and the report argues that since "little (if any) of the original building fabric remains unmodified," the extent of the alterations has stripped the building—designed by architect Henry Sproatt in collaboration with George Wallace Gouinlock—of its original character. As such, the report argues that the building does not contribute sufficient heritage elements to warrant preservation. Nonetheless, the structure has been identified as a "contributing property" in the proposed King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District (HCD), which is currently being reviewed by the City.

100 Simcoe within its existing urban context, image retrieved via submission to the City of Toronto

Notwithstanding potential heritage concerns, the position of the tower could jeopardize the development of surroundings sites. While the massing strategy situates the tower at the centre of the site—ostensibly in an attempt to avoid impeding development on neighbouring sites—the setback of 13.4 metres from the west lot line would complicate the feasibility of Humbold Properties' proposed tower at 217 Adelaide West.

The parking lot west of the garage (seen at right) is also subject to a proposal, image retrieved via Google Maps

Proposed to replace the surface parking lot immediately west of the existing above-ground garage, the 217 Adelaide tower (which is now before the OMB following rejection from the City) would be built to the lot line (or close to it) of the narrow site. For a proposal on that site to go ahead, the tower on the 100 Simcoe site would likely need to be built closer to the east lot line, thereby accommodating the 25-metre tower separation distance identified in the City's Tall Building Guidelines. Either way, the City does not see 217 Adelaide West as a tall building development site, owing to the narrowness of the lot. 

With the first application documents for 100 Simcoe submitted to the City in recent days, the proposal remains at an early stage. As noted above, the project may face a number of planning obstacles, and the proposal may evolve significantly throughout the process. We will keep you updated as the proposal is reviewed by the City, and more information becomes available. In the meantime, make sure to check out our associated database file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Feel free to leave a comment below, or join in the ongoing conversation in our Forum. 

Related Companies:  BentallGreenOak, Diamond Schmitt Architects, LEA Consulting