Streetcar Developments is looking to revitalize the city's South Riverdale neighbourhood with an intricate proposal that seeks to inject a lease of life into a collective of 19th Century buildings at 641 through 653 Queen Street East. The Zoning By-law Amendment and Site Plan Approval application submitted by Bousfields Inc. on their behalf will facilitate the redevelopment of four heritage designated buildings, a reconstructed central block, and a mid-rise, mixed-use building of 9 storeys to the southern portion of the site, under the design direction of Toronto-based architecture firm Giaimo.

Rendering of the 641-653 Queen Street East redevelopment, looking south from Carroll Street, image from submission to the City of Toronto

Located on the south side of Queen Street East across from Carrol Street and between Baseball Place and East Don Roadway, the 1,539m² site is occupied by four 3-storey mixed-use buildings formerly known as Smith Block. Constructed in 1889-1890 by John W. Mallory and Frank S. Mallory, these buildings were designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and consisted of nine properties arranged in a symmetrical composition. A fire in 1961 gutted the centre of the block. Now vacant, it has been operating as a commercial surface parking lot. The remaining flanking buildings, containing a mixture of independent businesses, have since been designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and would be adaptively restored as part of the application.

Existing buildings at 641-653 Queen Street East, looking south from Carroll Street, image from submission to the City of Toronto

Fronting Queen, a major arterial east-west road, the site is well-served by the TTC network, including streetcar routes 501, 503, and 504. The eagerly anticipated Ontario Line that will operate between Exhibition/Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre will serve the future Riverside/Leslieville station by 2030, approximately 500 m east of the subject site.

Site context map at 641-653 Queen Street East showing proposed Ontario Line, image from submission to the City of Toronto

By conscientiously reconstructing the former centre block buildings and pediment in a Richardsonian Romanesque style, Giaimo Architects aims to reunify the Queen Street frontage of the Smith Block façade, reinstating it to its former glory, thus honouring the original 19th Century conceived design.

 An extract from the Heritage Image Assessment submitted as part of the application states:

"The central reconstruction component will be contemporary in its materiality, while aligning formally with the language of the existing buildings. Using archival photos as well as information available from the existing buildings, the façade will be built to be subtly distinguishable as contemporary in relation to its neighbours."

Existing north elevation diagram of 641-653 Queen Street East showing lost and modified elements, image from submission to the City of Toronto

At grade level, this central component provides a dedicated residential lobby and 143m² of indoor amenity space. Various rear extensions to the former Smith Block will be demolished to accommodate necessary ancillary spaces, 68 secured bicycle parking spaces, and two south-facing residential units. These units, positioned at the southwest corner of the building, sit adjacent to 10 partially covered residential parking spaces accessed from the existing "L"-shaped private laneway, which extends from East Don Roadway to the west, to Queen Street to the northeast.

As previously mentioned, the retained flanking heritage buildings will be renovated into two retail commercial units providing 807m² worth of gross floor area with restorative emphasis put on the principal building façade and the former rooftop parapets and finials.

Proposed north elevation design rendering of 641-653 Queen Street East, image from submission to the City of Toronto

A 29.1m contemporary 9-storey building recessed 10 metres from the heritage façade is expressed by a series of equidistantly spaced horizontal beams and clear glass that defines each residential level. This purposefully recessive, distinctively contemporary addition respects the symmetrical composition of the historic Queen Street East elevation while delivering 94 residential dwelling units. This elevational treatment has also been applied to the rear south-facing façade. Giaimo Architects have also proposed a series of dark fibre cement board flank walls on east and west elevations.

The proposed development comprises 94 residential units inclusive of 9 rental replacement units that would be the same size as the existing rental apartment units on site, contained within the retained and reconfigured heritage buildings. The scheme's 94 dwelling units consist of 13 one-bedroom units (14%), 75 two-bedroom units (80%) and six larger, loft-style units (6%), which meets the City of Toronto's requirements for percentages of family-sized unit types. A proposed Gross Floor Area of 9,892m² would give the site a density of 6.43 FSI.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto's new data research service, UrbanToronto Pro, offers comprehensive information on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal right through to completion stages. In addition, our subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, drops in your mailbox daily to help you track.

Related Companies:  Bousfields, Jablonsky, Ast and Partners, LEA Consulting, RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists