Just four blocks east of Yonge, the massive full-block parking lot that stretches all the way from Queen to Shuter is gradually making way for redevelopment. With the north end of the Downtown Toronto lot already being excavated for what will be a 29-storey tower, an updated rezoning application has been submitted for the rest of the site, bringing to light a scaled down—and beefed up—plan for an additional three towers. 

The east elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Led by St. Thomas Developments, the project marketed as 88 Queen has attracted plenty of attention since the initial January 2016 submission. Early plans called for a 58-storey tower to cap the south end of the site, with a trio of shorter high-rises—including a pair of 27-storey mid-block towers, and the slightly taller north building—filling out the nearly 10,000 m² lot. Mid-block, a retail lined pedestrian 'mews' space would run nearly the length the block, bookended by a public park and POPS.

The site plan, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group, plans for the four-tower site have gradually evolved following the early-2016 application. By last June, a new submission brought to light a slightly scaled down vision for the site, with the south building height reduced 1 storey to 57 as the marquee tower's initial Herzog de Meuron-inspired aesthetic was simplified in favour of a more regular pattern of extruded volumes.

The south elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Later in 2016, another resubmission brought the tallest tower down to 54 storeys, as minor changes to the public realm tweaked the nature of the onsite public park and POPS. Another minor revision was tabled in March of this year. This month, a new submission outlines another step in the project's evolution, with changes to the unit mix, site plan, and programming, accompanying a further revision in scale. 

Aerial 3D view of the site, prior to the start of Phase 1 construction, image via Google Maps

Now envisioned as 49-storey, 28-, and 27-storey towers, plans for the three Phase 2 buildings were first made public during a community consultation on June 12th. At the meeting, representatives of St. Thomas Developments explained that the changes in the south tower height were made with the intention of preserving the view corridor to the St. James Church Spire. To the north, the height of two mid-block towers—which has not changed significantly since the initial submission—is more definitively limited by the helicopter flight path to St. Michael's Hospital. 

The west elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Although the decreased tower height brings about a reduction in GFA, the floorplates for all three Phase 2 buildings have been expanded, making for a slight increase in total GFA. Conspicuously exceeding the 750 m² standard outlined in the City's Tall Buildings Guidelines, the varying mid-block tower flooplates now range from 728 m² to just over 800 m², while the average floorplate for the south tower will be an imposing 898 m²—a sizeable increase from the 854 m² average previously proposed. 

Since the development envisions a full-block solution for the large site, the project's planning rationale—prepared by Bousfields Inc.—argues that the bulkier tower floorplates nonetheless remain consistent with the spirit of the Tall Buildings Guidelines. With approximately 45% of the site devoted to public space, and all four buildings planned in tandem, the developers argue that the larger floorplates will not overwhelm the street level.

Queen Street frontage, looking northeast, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Nonetheless, the height and massing of the towers was met with concern from some area residents at June's consultation, who cited the risk of a dramatic new height precedent for the neighbourhood. More site-specific qualms regarding shadowing and wind impacts were also voiced, though the developers argued that any viable high-rise solution for the site—even with significantly shorter towers—would entail similar general impacts. 

Across the three Phase 2 towers, the unit mix has also evolved. While the City's mandated 10% ratio of three-bedroom units has been maintained, the number of studios has been reduced, allowing for more two-bedroom apartments. The enlarged floorplates also see the the unit count marginally increased from 1,139 to 1,146. In total, the new mix calls for 5 studio (0.5%), 470 one-bedroom (41%), 554 two-bedroom (48.5%), and 117 three-bedroom (10%) units. 

Phase 1 excavation at the north end of the site, image by UT Forum contributor insertnamehere

At street level, the public realm remains generally unchanged since the previous set of submissions. Near the northwest end of the site, a 984 m² public park—split between phases 1 and 2—fronts Dalhousie Street, while an 874 m² POPS meets Mutual Street to the southeast. On Queen, meanwhile, the rhythm and proportions of the south tower's street-level frontage have been slightly refined to better reflect the 19th-century streetscape to the south, hopefully creating a more cohesive urban realm.

2,271 m² of retail space is also planned throughout the site, while a 137-room hotel—expanded since the last submission—will be housed in the podium of the 49-storey south tower. Landscaping will be appointed by Claude Cormier + Associés, with interiors by Ceccconi Simone

Marketed as 88 North, Phase 1 is now under construction, image via St Thomas Developments

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the project continues to take shape. In the meantime, make sure to check out our Database file, linked below, to learn more. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum threads.

Related Companies:  Claude Cormier + Associés, Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc., Hariri Pontarini Architects, IBI Group, L.A. Inc., McIntosh Perry, NAK Design Strategies, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., Turner Fleischer Architects