After Toronto Planning published a Preliminary Report in February, the proposal for an irregularly shaped, 1.98 hectare site near King and Bathurst at 2 Tecumseth and 125 Niagara streets was presented on March 22 for feedback from the community. TAS Design Build purchased the site in 2016 and has since invested in several efforts—including extensive pre-application community consultations—leading up to applications to amend the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law for the property. The site—currently vacant—is dominated by the former Toronto Abattoir and Quality Meat Packers, the closing of which marked the end to Toronto’s “Hogtown” history as a pork producer.
An adjacent building that has been subject to much speculation—the Wellington Destructor—is not included in the proposal, but the City is investigating adaptive reuse opportunities for it, and it constitutes an important element in the redevelopment of the combined sites.
The redevelopment proposes 6 buildings designed by KPMB Architects situated in 3 discrete landscapes designed by Public Work. The zones dubbed Lowlands, Creek Bank, and Plateau negotiate the notable difference in grade across the site. The Creek Bank covers the former location of the Garrison Creek, which was channeled underground in the early 20th century. Given the flat elevation and relatively ample open space, the eastern Plateau houses most of the site's vertical density and open space, including Buildings 1, 2, 4, and 5. While the proposal includes privately-owned public-space in a large plaza, the City has concerns that no on-site public park space has been proposed.
Building 1 at the east end of the site would front Tecumseth Street with a height of 13 storeys, and would include the adaptation of the Abattoir as a base; the entire building would be used for office and retail. Building 2 to the west is connected to Building 1 via a concourse level, and creates the site’s peak at 38 storeys. It would house retail and office on the lower floors with 354 residential units located at and above the 5th storey. To the north, Building 4 is a 2-storey low-rise commercial building that fronts Niagara Street, and includes an enclosed pedestrian connection that provides access to the site’s inner courtyard. Building 5 is a 1-storey building located parallel to a public lane connecting Wellington Street West and Tecumseth Street. To the west, the narrow—and somewhat jagged—Lowlands would be occupied by Building 3, a 15-storey building with 297 residential units and retail units on the lower floors. Compensating for its elongated footprint, the building is planned with pedestrian permeability in mind, with at-grade connections passing through the structure. In fact, the whole of the site would be redeveloped with substantially more open space as compared to the status quo, with the increased density strategically positioned to avoid a sense of encroachment upon the pedestrian realm.
Two separate below grade parking areas are proposed to serve the development, with a total of 423 parking spaces and 901 bicycle parking spaces. All service vehicles would travel through the P1 level, which contains 7 loading spaces.
The event on March 22 saw presentations from Councillor Mike Layton, City Planner Jason Brander, President & CEO of TAS Design Build Mazyar Mortazavi, Principal of ERA Architects Michael McClelland, Principal and Co-Founder of Public Work Marc Ryan, and Partner of KMBP Architects Bruce Kuwabara. Acting as a representative for the community, Layton expressed his gratitude for the amount of people that showed up to the meeting, explaining that he has initiated community consultations in the past that resulted in zero visitors and no feedback. Brander represented the city planning staff that published the Preliminary Report in February, and explained some of the policies in place that governed their recommendations and concerns. While the City recognizes the potential for the redevelopment to contribute positively to the site and broader neighbourhood, they have concerns with the lack of dedicated public parkland and the scale of the proposed buildings, which contradicts the South Niagara Planning Strategy and OPA 273.
Serving as the “Applicant” representative, Mortazavi from TAS defended the initiative and expressed his sincere interest in the history of the site, the concerns of the neighbourhood, and his dedication to become part of the neighbourhood. Since acquiring the site 2 years ago, TAS has initiated several engagement sessions with the community to learn about the area, including a session with children from the Niagara Street Junior Public School. He explained that the first 6 months of work involved ideas and research without any design decisions made; this was done because TAS believes that comprehensive programming objectives should inform the development instead of decisions made without considering the full context. Also in-line with the 4 Pillars of TAS, he explained that the accommodation of children under 10 and seniors ensures that a majority of people will be comfortable navigating the proposal.
From the design team, McClelland described the historical aspects of the site; specifically the Abbatoir, the Destructor, and the site’s relationship the Fort York. He described the Abbatoir—originally built in 1916—as the most interesting building on the site, which had its top removed after a fire and had several subsequent additions. This building, along others on the site, were used to slaughter animals, which he explained creates an intriguing dilemma of how to best represent the history without making it seem awful. Ryan from Public Work and Kuwabara from KPMB co-presented the built form, describing the design with regard to the 3 zones, but unfortunately were only given 2 minutes which did not allow in-depth discussion.
After the presentations, the hosts opened up the discussion to the audience, who were mostly concerned with the impact the development will have on traffic in the neighbourhood. Some expressed concern for the impact on public transit, some stated that it’s already very difficult driving their cars, and others were concerned how the development will relate to the King Street Transit Pilot and other new developments along King Street. To this, the presenters responded that efforts are being done to ensure that the impact on traffic will be nominal, the City will hopefully gain more funding to relieve transportation along King Street, and all servicing of the units will be done underground at the P1 level.
On the issue of height, the feedback was mixed; about half thought the height was unobtrusive and the other half were uncomfortable with 38 storeys. Since the Policy specifies a maximum of 11 storeys for the area, the City admitted that they also have concerns with the height, but will work the applicant to resolve the issue. There was one question about remediation of the site after its long history of industrial use, to which Brander responded that all of Toronto contains about 3 feet of contaminated soil and this site has no significant issues beyond this.
There were also others who were concerned with the provision of affordable housing and facilities for children, such as schools, parks, and day care. Mortazavi responded that the leading criteria for all TAS developments is to design for residents under 10 years old and over 70 years old, and efforts will be made to include these facilities into the development. With regard to affordable units, a system hasn’t been finalized yet, but will likely exceed City mandates. Brander responded that the Toronto District School Board is the best to answer where new schools should be located because they have a comprehensive, up-to-date database of neighbourhood needs. He also mentioned that the TDSB had initiated two schools for the Concord CityPlace neighbourhood, which are expected to open September 2019. To end the evening, Mortazavi provided closing remarks, explaining that his first development was on Niagara Street, which he lived in for 3 years. Since living in the neighbourhood, it has always been his dream to revitalize the Abbatoir, and he hopes to live in the proposal in the future.
We will keep you updated as more information about the 2 Tecumseth and 125 Niagara Street project emerges. In the meantime, additional information about the redevelopment proposal is available in our database file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or add your voice to the ongoing discussion in our associated Forum thread.
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