Hot on the heels of an October proposal for a landmark 76-storey tower on Yonge Street between Bloor and Wellesley Streets, developers KingSett Capital are doubling down on their bid to crank up density and height on Toronto’s most significant civic thoroughfare with a new 75-storey proposal located just across the street, at 646 Yonge Street. The proposal was received by the City late last month, marking the last major development application of 2022, and seeks to dramatically redevelop the rear of low-rise retail properties fronting Yonge with an architecturally prominent tower designed by Chicago’s AS + GG Architecture, creating 548 new dwelling units.

Worms-eye-view of 76-storey tower from Yonge Street, image from submission to City of Toronto

Currently occupied by a cluster of 10 properties that are described as contributors to the Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District, the proposal details a mixed approach of retention, reconstruction, and demolition to facilitate the construction of the tower. Based on the designation of the lands in the City’s Official Plan (OP), existing within an Urban Growth Centre, the proponents argue that their submission manages the need to intensify the centrally located site while preserving the existing character of the historic commercial corridor.

With access to higher order transit and cycling infrastructure, and an existing built form that is only growing more accommodating to exceptional heights, the proposal has a strong case to make for approval of the associated Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications submitted to the City that would permit the tower’s construction. 

Map showing local transit infrastructure in relation to the site, image from submission to City of Toronto

The design of the tower strives to maximize the potential for density on the downtown site with a relatively small total area of 1,349m², while simultaneously delivering a structure that embraces its role as one of the tallest in the immediate area. The tower seems to view the orthogonal norms of Toronto’s predominant high-rise style as references for what not to deliver, and instead presents a curved massing that features an ovular floor-plate, accented by a scalloped balcony pattern and an austerely angled crown that tops the tower off with a distinct peak 254m above the ground. 

Looking northeast to the 646 Yonge proposal, image from submission to City of Toronto

The tower begins at the 5th storey, rising above a base building with a setback of 10m from the primary (east) elevation fronting Yonge Street. Once the tower reaches a height of 50m (at the 15th storey), the repeating floor-plans are interrupted by a transitional zone that gradually decreases the tower’s setback from Yonge Street. By the 27th floor, the transition is completed, reducing the setback to 8m, and increasing the area of the tower’s floor-plate from 633m² to 701m². From that point on, the massing generally remains the same until the tapering of the floor-plate begins at level 71 to create the angled peak of the tower’s crown. 

Three-quarter views show distinct curved massing of the Tower, image from submission to City of Toronto

Externally, the early package of renderings that exists to date indicates that the tower would be finished with a blue glass and silver-grey spandrel glazing that carries over to the balconies as well. The scalloped balcony design creates an interesting visual character on the east and west elevations, with the straight edge of each balcony lining up vertically with the one below to create the impression of four continuous lines that run up the entire elevation. Interestingly, this motif is played with more on the eastern elevation, where the expanding floor-plate of the transitional zone is accentuated by a diagonal line of glazing that realigns itself vertically at the 27th storey.

Elevation drawings show role of scalloped balconies in exterior appearance, image from submission to City of Toronto

At ground level, the existing retail occupying the row of buildings fronting Yonge Street would be updated, seeing the removal of the second floor rental units (slated to be replaced within the tower) to create a double height retail space. Meanwhile, the southern frontage on Irwin Street would see the removal of two existing buildings to create a new privately owned public space (POPS) that also allows for a patio space for the new retail unit set to occupy the south frontage. 

Looking northwest at the proposed redevelopment of the existing buildings and the POPS, image from submission to City of Toronto

Amenity space is proposed to be programmed into the base building, occupying the entirety of the second level while providing access to an outdoor amenity terrace that would be added onto the roofs of the existing Yonge Street buildings. Another Terrace would be found at the top of the tower, with an associated indoor amenity space harnessing the impressive views from 75 storeys high, and rounding out the 1,566m² total of proposed amenity space.

The proposal outlines a mix of 16% studios, 59% one-bedrooms, 15% two-bedrooms, and 11% three-bedrooms, meeting the City's minimum guidelines for family-sized units. Six elevators are proposed for the 548-unit building, providing a ratio of 1 elevator for every 91.33 units, nicely below the threshold of 1 per 100 units, promising much better elevator service than many of the recent proposals. Bicycle parking is proposed to occupy two underground levels, while no motor vehicle parking spaces are proposed, emphasizing the area's walkability and the proposal's proximity to higher order transit services.  

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.

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