An infill development project by GWL Realty Advisors for an already dense residential neighbourhood just north of Toronto's beloved High Park has been approved via a settlement at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). Now, the City has received a Site Plan Approval application for the site. Highly contentious when it was first proposed, the new buildings have been reduced in scale but will contribute over 700 purpose-built rental units in three new residential towers within an existing Tower-in-the-Park apartment complex.

Rendering of proposed development. The proposed development would maintain the existing four rental buildings on the lands, while proposing to demolish two blocks of existing townhouses to accommodate four new rental towers. Image courtesy of the architects, IBI Group.

The 3.07-hectare site covers most of the block bounded by Bloor Street West, High Park Avenue, Glenlake Avenue and Pacific Avenue, but doesn't reach to Bloor itself. To the east and west of the site is an area largely comprised of ‘Tower-in-the-Park’ built form, similar to that present on the site itself, combined with some pockets of low-rise residential development. Directly north is a residential neighbourhood comprised of detached and semi-detached homes, and south is High Park, one of the city’s largest green spaces.

Aerial Photo. The ‘subject site’ is comprised of properties municipally known as 35, 41-63, 65 and 95 High Park Avenue and 66 & 102-116 Pacific Avenue. Image courtesy of Bousfields.

The original design proposal, created for GWL by Zeidler Architecture in 2016, had called for a total of 1,031 new dwelling units across three new tall infill buildings of 29, 34, and 39-storeys, and one new 8-storey mid-rise. The proposed Floor Space Index (FSI) would have resulted in a total of 151,300 m² of Gross Floor Area/Gross Construction Area (GFA/GCA) on the site, which represents a total density of approximately 4.93 times the area of the lot.  

Designed by IBI Group, the proposed development will introduce three new residential towers of 11, 30, and 36 storeys–and a net increase of total 721 new units—on under-utilized areas of the GWL Lands, integrated with the existing four apartment buildings. Two blocks of rental townhouses (a total of 20 units) will be demolished in order to accommodate the new buildings. Some surface parking, an outdoor pool, and some green space will also be repurposed for the new buildings. The existing FSI is 2.38. The proposed FSI [existing GCA to be retained + proposed GFA] is 4.24.

Overall Ground floor plan. Image courtesy of the architects, IBI Group.

High Park entices with its trails, grassy expanses, woods, quiet brooks and ponds, while the neighbourhood is close to popular shopping and dining areas like Bloor West Village and The Junction, while it is also served by the TTC subway. With location desirability comes development, and in December 2016, an Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-Law Amendment, and rental housing demolition applications were filed on behalf of the owner to permit the redevelopment of the site.  

Hundreds of angry residents turned up to community consultations, concerned that adding high-rises–considerably taller ones than the existing 12- to 26-storey buildings—to a block that already included large rental buildings would lead to “crowded schools” and a “decreased quality of life.” The High Park Community Alliance, organized to oppose what it called “unmanageable” development with the slogan "Say no to double density" actively opposed this development, as well as a Minto development proposal on an adjacent block.

3D visualization. View along High Park Avenue. Image courtesy of the architects, IBI Group.

In the lead up to the LPAT hearing, GWL settled its respective issues with the City, the TDSB, and with the HPCA, and withdrew its OPA appeal as only ZBA was needed based on the settlement proposal. The settlement was approved in principle by the LPAT in February, 2020, subject to a number of conditions. In addition to a variety of new onsite amenities for residents of all the buildings, POPS spaces (Privately Owned Publicly-accessible Spaces) would be dedicated for the whole community along with an on-site municipal parkland dedication adjacent to the green space over the subway line to the south. The Tribunal concluded that “there were no negative impacts to High Park arising out of this redevelopment.” The 36-storey tower will incorporate ground level retail, a community hub, and additional services for this substantial apartment cluster. The remaining buildings will contain exclusively residential uses.

3D visualization. View along Bloor Street West. Image courtesy of the architects, IBI Group.

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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