It has been a long journey for Trinity Development and CreateTO's Richview Square project, but if Toronto's Design Review Panel's feedback is any indication, they may have finally gotten it right. Since first being proposed in 2017, the proposal has been revised twice, most recently in October, each time with a reconfigured massing and a slight reduction in size. Designed by Core Architects, the development is located at the northwest corner of Eglinton West and Wincott Drive in Etobicoke on the site of an existing suburban plaza, and proposes to add three new towers while retaining the existing retail structure on site.
Originally proposed at heights of 22, 22, and 18 storeys, the latest version reduces the tower heights down to 18, 12, and 11 storeys while greatly slimming down the massing, doing away with the mid-rise link that previously connected the two shorter towers. The tallest of the three, Tower A, is situated in the northwest corner of the site, while Towers B and C are located side-by-side south of the existing retail building. The number of units has also been reduced from 773 to 605.
The site is located on lands that were once earmarked to become the Richview Expressway along Eglinton, hence why the retail plaza is set far back from the street, separated from Eglinton by a strip of green space owned by CreateTO. Tower C will be built up to the property line along Eglinton, infringing upon this 'greenway', but Tower B is set back to preserve this strip of green, which will become a new park. CreateTO is retaining ownership of their portion of the site and is working jointly with Trinity on the development.
Just less than 3,000 m² of new retail will be housed in the bottom two floors of Towers B and C, while the northern strip of existing retail structure will be retained in its entirety. Two large-format spaces, including a grocery store, are planned to go on the second floor of Towers B and C, while the remainder of the retail is wrapped around the north and south ends of the new buildings.
In between Towers B and C is a courtyard and POPS space, also housing a driveway, surface parking, and loading and parking entrances at the northern end. This POPS merges with the new public park located south of Tower B. The existing surface parking in front of the retail building is proposed to be maintained, but the design team mentioned the possibility of converting some of it into park space. At the very least, plenty of trees will be planted around the lot to help green the property.
In addition, a new north-south private road is proposed on the west side of the site connecting Eglinton to Widdicombe Hill, and an east-west private road is proposed to connect Wincott to the new north-south road.
The Panel was generally happy with the proposal, saying that it was a great improvement over the previous versions. They said the scale and massing of the buildings was "appropriate", "comfortable", and "very successful", congratulating the design team on finding a good urban form to transform the suburban site.
Panel members had some concerns with the amount of surface parking provided on the site, asking if a portion of the retail parking could be converted into green space. They also questioned the purpose of the courtyard, as the four separate loading and parking entrances along with the island of surface parking at its centre conflicted with the project's aims of pedestrianizing the development.
With regards to the courtyard, the Panel offered several suggestions on how to provide a more pedestrian-friendly and multi-use design. A common comment was relocating the parking entrances from the south end of the courtyard further north, so they did not draw cars all the way in, instead offloading the majority of the traffic at the edge of the courtyard. Another suggestion was to remove the centre island and surface parking and have the courtyard simply as an open space with cobblestone-like paving, avoiding segregation of cars and people as a way to open the door to multiple uses, slow down traffic, and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
Sustainability was also raised as something the design team should give more thought to. While they appreciated the removal of some of the balconies to reduce thermal bridging, they stated that aiming for Toronto Green Standard Tier 1 was too low, and that certain aspects, like the amount of glazing on the building or the large roof of the existing retail structure that could potentially house a green roof, should be further explored. They also pointed out the lack of bicycle parking and infrastructure indicated in the drawings, though the design team mentioned that they were planned to be included in the project, but were not shown in the illustrations.
The Panel finished off with these closing comments: "The transformation from suburban to urban is strong, but there are some things that haven’t quite left the suburban world yet… Those little things keep this from reaching its full potential, but they are not insurmountable".
The final vote was unanimous in support of the development, but on the condition that the design and layout of the courtyard be revisited.
We will keep you updated as Richview Square continues to make its way through the planning process, but in the meantime, you can join in on the discussion 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:||Core Architects, Land Art Design|