Initially proposed in 2015, Parallax Investment Corporation is seeking to build a mixed-use condominium for a site at 203 College Street across from the University of Toronto's main campus. Originally submitting a rezoning application to allow a 33-storey building, the project dubbed Theory Condos was redesigned in early 2016, with the height brought down to 29 storeys and the unit count lowered to 309 from 356, while increasing the number of 3-bedroom units. Retail is planned at grade in the 5-storey podium, with office space on floors 2 and 3. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the development would replace the existing 6-storey office building at the southeast corner of College and Beverley streets.

The 4-storey decrease in height was unveiled at a public consultation in April 2016. Following this, and long after the 120-day period for the City to render a decision on the application had passed, Parallax filed an appeal to the OMB. A pre-hearing took place in the summer of 2016, and the full hearing began on December 5, 2016. The decision on the appeal was recently made public.

Rendering of Theory Condos, image via submission to the City of Toronto

At the hearing, evidence was presented by the applicant in support the tower's height, showing that nearby developments—either approved, in planning, or under construction—have similar height and density. These included Design Haus, CampusOne Student Residence (which was approved by the OMB), and The College Condominiums. The planner for the City of Toronto argued that other than 25-storey CampusOne, those are no taller than 17 storeys, and therefore an acceptable height at this location would also be 17 storeys, allowing for a natural transition to the smaller neighbouring buildings adjacent to the site. The Board found, however, that the height was in keeping with other buildings further to the east at University Avenue.

Rendering of the podium level, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Height wasn't the only pressing issue at the Board, though, and the setbacks in the proposal drew the most attention. The proposal included an east tower setback from the centreline of the public laneway at 5.5 metres. In its decision, the Board agreed with the City's position vis-à-vis its Tall Buildings Guidelines, that a setback of 12.5 metres would be more appropriate there, while also increasing the setback of the podium floors to adjacent buildings to the south. The OMB decision recognizes the importance of tower separation and of transitioning to the smaller-scaled buildings surrounding the site.

The Board's decision also requires that the recreational amenities, currently planned on the third and fourth floors—including outdoor space—be situated on the north site of the building, in order to reduce their overlook-impact on adjacent low-rise buildings.

Original rendering of Theory Condos, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The Board will approve the rezoning application once the applicants make the amendments to the plan as noted above, as well as coming to a Section 37 public benefits agreement with the. A new design and agreement should be in place midway through 2017.

Additional information and renderings of the most recent design can be found in the project's dataBase, linked below. Want to share your thoughts on this decision by the OMB? Feel free to leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum thread. 

Related Companies:  American Standard (part of Lixil Canada Inc.), Bousfields, Brookfield Multiplex, Core Architects, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Entuitive, ERA Architects, Greybrook Realty Partners, IBI Group, Kirkor Architects Planners, Knightstone Capital Management, Land Art Design, Live Patrol Inc., Parallax Investment Corporation, Patton Design Studio, RJC Engineers, Shiu Pong, Tribute Communities, U31, WSP