It has been hard to keep up with the rapid growth of the King-Spadina precinct in recent years. Easily the most active development zone in the city, the staff at City Planning have been trying to rein in the stream of development proposals which have consistently been above and beyond what the City wants in this neighbourhood in terms of height and density. At least half of all proposals in this area are being sorted out at the LPAT, and City Planning has been trying for years to implement the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District to put the brakes on the rapidly disappearing stock of heritage buildings in the area, which, naturally, has been appealed to the LPAT and opposed by a host of interested parties.

Amidst the furor of cranes and dump trucks, at least one development has earned the City's blessings. Located at 663 King Street West, on the southeast corner of King and Bathurst, Timbercreek Communities and Trinity Group is proposing to build a 17-storey condo tower on the site of an existing listed heritage building.

Rendering of revised version of 663 King West, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects with heritage specialists ERA Architects, the tower was recently revised for Timbercreek and Trinity from a previous iteration that would have seen a 19-storey tower constructed with undulating wrap-around balconies for the previous site owner. First proposed by Main and Main in 2016 wth a Diamond Schmitt design, the site was sold in the midst of its LPAT process.

Rendering of original version of 663 King West, image courtesy of Main and Main.

The City took issue with several aspects of the initial building, the first being its height. The total height of the proposal has been reduced from 67 to 58 metres, which includes the mechanical penthouse but does not include the elevator and stair overruns, which extend the total height to 62.5 metres. It is now two storeys shorter, but despite the reduced height, the total number of residential units has increased from 240 to 251. The roof will also contain an accessible outdoor terrace as an amenity for the residents.

East elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

A second issue the City had with the former version was the massing. The continuous wrap-around balconies extended 2 metres into the required 5-metre setback from the heritage facade below, and created a bulky appearance that exceeded the City's recommended massing envelope. The new iteration maintains the 5-metre setback on the north and west facades, with smaller and discontinuous 2-metre balconies beginning on the eighth floor.

North and south elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The final issue with the proposal was the heritage retention. There are currently three buildings on site: neither 647 King West nor 60 Stewart Street are considered heritage, but 663 King West, constructed in 1900 for the Canada Biscuit Company is listed on the City's Heritage Register. The first proposal would only retain the north facade and first structural bay of the west facade of 663, while demolishing the remainder of the buildings, which the City argued was not sufficient to preserve the heritage of the site. The Heritage Impact Assessment drafted by ERA stated that the existing masonry was in poor condition, and referenced structural reports that concluded the existing structure could not support any additional floors on the building. These were used to justify its demolition despite stating that its 4-storey massing was considered a heritage value.

The new proposal will retain the full north, west, and south facades of 663 in situ while demolishing the rest of the built fabric on the site, in an effort to maintain some semblance of the building's original massing. In addition to retaining the facades, the ground floor will be modified to allow retail to be incorporated in the base, dropping the first floor down to grade and cutting larger storefront openings into the brick.

View of heritage building at 663 King West, image via Google Maps.

Other revisions to the building include an increase of two-bedroom units from 14% to 27%, and increase of three-bedroom units from 10% to 13%, and a reduction of the amount of commercial space from 4,950 square metres to 1,394 square metres.

The revisions have earned the City's approval, and a final LPAT hearing is scheduled to begin on February 5, 2019. If all goes well, it is expected that they will reach a settlement on the rezoning, and the project can proceed to the site plan approval phase.

We will keep you posted as this building works its way through the planning process, but in the meantime, you can tell us what you think by checking out the associated Forum thread or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Bousfields, Diamond Schmitt Architects, ERA Architects, Thinc Design, Timbercreek Communities, Trinity Development Group Inc.