Revisions have been made to a three-building mixed-use development proposed in Toronto's regenerating West Don Lands area. A rezoning application for Blocks 3, 4 and 7 was submitted in September, 2019 with tripartite development team Dream Kilmer Tricon securing a 99-year lease with Infrastructure Ontario to build out a site just north of the Distillery District currently occupied by surface parking. In exchange, the development will be built to LEED Gold standards, and devote 30 percent of total residential gross floor area as affordable rental units.

Changes to the rezoning application are accompanied by an application for Site Plan Approval. Blocks 3 and 4 are bounded by Front Street to the north, Cherry Street to the east, a new public laneway to the south, and Trinity Street to the west. Block 7 occupies the northwest corner of Mill Street and Cherry Street, located adjacent to a condominium complex at 80 Mill Street.

Updated aerial perspective, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The original application conceived three mid-rise buildings with heights ranging from six to 13 storeys. A total of 834 purpose-built rental units were envisioned, including 248 affordable units. A 4,010 m² retail component and 465 m² of community facility space were also proposed. Between Blocks 3 and 4, a publicly-accessible courtyard and pedestrian corridor is planned. 

Resubmitted materials describe how the development, designed by COBE Architects and architectsAlliance, has evolved in the months since it was first proposed. There are now 839 units of rental housing proposed, including an additional four affordable rental units for a total of 252. The number of parking spaces has been reduced considerably from 616 to 293. The total number of bicycle parking spaces has declined slightly to 861 from 868, and the retail component has been reduced to 3,080 m².

Resubmitted ground floor plan, image via submission to the City of Toronto

One of the largest changes relates to the shape and size of the publicly-accessible courtyard, which has been significantly expanded from the 2,130 m² area initially proposed. The updated design will optimize sky view and sunlight on the courtyard, which will cover a 3,644 m² space between the two buildings at Blocks 3 and 4.

Courtyard size comparison, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The distance between the two buildings has been enlarged from 9.5 metres at the north end and 15.8 metres at the south end to 18.5 metres on both sides. The entire courtyard will be accessible, animated, and lined with active and passive landscape elements, but the north and south segments are designed to possess a distinct character to support disparate activities and functions.

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

The north courtyard extends the active retail character of Front Street by introducing retail and amenity spaces at grade. The south courtyard, to be accessed from a new east-west street, will continue the more quiet existing residential character. At-grade uses in this component will include townhouse entrances.

Revised Block 7 massing, looking north, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The courtyard's landscape design is composed of public zones, private zones and semi-private amenity zones. The public zone to the north will provide multiple types of seating and an informal play area. The semi-private amenity spaces extend to the pedestrian corridor, and will incorporate vegetation to delineate these two areas. The private space proposed around at-grade residential units to the south will front green space, which is designed to serve as a buffer and transition from the units to the pedestrian corridor.

Block 7 east elevation, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Responding to a request from City staff, the height of the proposed building at Block 7 has been reduced from 13 to 11 storeys, resulting in a 6.8-metre drop from the original scheme. The upper volume of the building has also shifted east, creating more distance between the proposed structure and the existing condominium at 80 Mill Street. Staff had expressed concern about potential impacts from Block 7 on sky views and privacy for the residents of 80 Mill Street.

Height revisions at Blocks 3 and 4, image via submission to the City of Toronto

A revised design for the development on Blocks 3 and 4 distills the building into a series of volumes "to create visual interest and reduce the perception of the proposed massing." The heights have also shifted to accommodate density redeployed from the reduction in height of Block 7, increased setbacks along the pedestrian corridor, stepbacks along the streetwall, and increased floor-to-floor heights to permit additional structural and mechanical needs. The module seeing the largest height increase, at 3.4 metres, is located on the west side of the Front Street elevation. 

Revised massing at Front and Trinity, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Massing refinements made to Blocks 3 and 4 now incorporate a series of stepbacks rather than projections along Trinity and Cherry streets. The at-grade setback along Trinity Street proposed at the northwest corner of Block 3 has been reduced to create a more consistent streetwall, and the above-grade setback has been increased to maximize sky views and sunlight exposure. The setback on Front Street has also been increased to create a wider sidewalk.

Revised massing at Mill and Cherry, image via submission to the City of Toronto

A stepback has been introduced along the new east-west street "to create a compatible relationship with the heritage building at 60 Mill Street." Projections along Cherry Street at the northeast corner of Block 4 have been reduced, and additional separation has been created between the north face of Block 7 and the south face of Block 4.

Revised massing at Trinity and the new east-west street, image via submission to the City of Toronto

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  architects—Alliance, Dream Unlimited, Grounded Engineering Inc., RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists, Tricon Residential, Unilux HVAC Industries Inc., Urban Strategies Inc.