The end is finally in sight for one of the largest surface parking lots in Downtown Toronto, more immediately on the northern third of the 171-metre long site than the south. Bounded by Shuter on the north and Queen Street on the south, the northern end of the lot at 88 Queen St East has now been fenced off in advance of construction starting on phase 1 at the St. Thomas Developments' site, dubbed 88 North. It will feature a 29-storey (91 metre), mixed-use condominium designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group and Gensler Architects, while landscape architect Claude Cormier + Associés is creating a public realm—including a park—in a spot that currently feels disconnected from the rest of the City. 

Fencing in place at the north end of 88 Queen East, image by Forum contributor ShonTron

The lot, bounded by Dalhousie on the west and Mutual on the east, has long been a scar on the city's urban fabric. In the 1950s, the site told a different tale. It was in fact another dense block in a city full of fine-grain buildings, including the 1857-built Cooke's Presbyterian Church in the southeast corner of the site. With the growing influence of the automobile in the 1960s, buildings on the block were gradually demolished to make way for the surface parking lot that has remained for the past few decades.

With construction equipment now arriving at the 3,049 square metre north end site, we can expect ground breaking to happen shortly for 88 North (AKA Building A), likely to start with shoring. Set to breathe new life in this Downtown east neighbourhood, phase 1 will see a 7-storey podium fronting Shuter with retail at ground level, while 407 residential units will be built above.

Rendering of 88 North, soon to begin construction, image via submission to the City of Toronto

At the same time as the countdown to construction is on at the north end, St. Thomas Developments has resubmitted documents for the phase two rezoning of the southern two-thirds of the site. Comprising the remaining 6,902 square metres of the lot, phase 2 includes three more mixed-use residential condos and a comprehensive landscaping strategy with a Privately Owned Publicly accessible Space (POPS) and a retail-lined pedestrian mews. The three towers have all gotten shorter, down from 33 to 28 storeys (92.6 metres, Building B), down from 29 to 27 storeys (89.5 metres, Building C), and down from 57 to 54 storeys (178.5 metres, Building D), in regards to shadowing concerns.

West elevation of Phase 2, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Building B, located on the east side, has been moved 12.5 metres closer to Queen Street, while Building C has moved 14.5 metres north of its original location, resulting in a reversed staggering effect of the two mid-block buildings. Only separated from each other by 12.5 metres, Buildings' B and C will be physically connected through five sky gardens, located on levels 9, 13, 17, 21 and 25. Meanwhile, Building D at the south end now has a 6-storey Podium extension running north beside Dalhousie St, integrating with the podium of Building C. A 129-room hotel is planned for the Building D podium, the entrance to which will be at the northeast corner of Queen and Dalhousie. 

Site Plan of 88 Queen East Phase 2, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The number of vehicular parking spaces planned has decreased from 508 down to 494 spaces, while there are 1,154 bicycle parking stalls, down from the initial 1,196 parking stalls. 

Ground floor plan of 88 Queen East Phase 2, image via submission to the City of Toronto

In total, Buildings B, C, and D are proposed with 100 studio units, 504 one-bedroom units, 446 two-bedroom units, and 123 three-bedroom units, for a grand total of 1,139 (the August 2016 submission included 1,181 units).

Second floor plan of 88 Queen East Phase 2, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Along with the resubmission comes a new rendering of Building D, looking north along Dalhousie where it meets Queen. The redesign features some new elements, including extruded push/pull boxes in a white cladding system, while earth tones predominate on the first two levels and act as accents in other places. 

Updated rendering of Phase 2, Building D, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The pedestrian mews remains a key feature in enhancing the public realm in the project, with a POPS located near the southeastern ends of the site and a park at the northwestern end, linked by the retail-lined pedestrian mews. While the original submission included retail on the second level throughout past 2, a second level of retail is now only planned fronting Queen Street in Building D, south of the POPS.

2016 rendering of the pedestrian mews, image via submission to the City of Toronto

We will keep you up-to-date as 88 North prepares for construction, and Phase Two works through zoning and SPA. In the meantime, additional information can be found in each of the project's dataBase files, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Feel free to comment in the space provided below, or join in on the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum threads.

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