August 20, 2014

Massive tower proposed in Yorkville

City won’t seriously consider aggressive, 80-storey application

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam says current design is a non-starter

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam says current design is a non-starter

If approved, an application to build an 80-storey mixed-use building at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street flagship store would be the tallest residential tower in the city — but the proposal is so aggressive that it isn’t being seriously considered by the city at this stage. City planning staff nonetheless advised Toronto and East York Community Council recently to schedule a community consultation meeting to identify which aspects of the proposal will need to be altered and how dramatically.

City planning staff used strong language in its preliminary report, writing: “The height and density of the proposed development greatly exceed the built and planned context for this area and, in the opinion of staff, is unacceptable in its current form.”

The site is zoned for a maximum height of 61 metres, whereas the application calls for 277 metres. At more than one million square feet, the proposed structure has a density of 18.9 times lot coverage, compared to the 7.8 times lot coverage permitted in the current zoning.

The proposal provides for a tower containing 600 residential units, an eight-storey podium dedicated to office and retail uses and 620 parking spaces. Some of the existing three-storey mixed-use building would stay in place, including the ground floor retail.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said that the developer has indicated a willingness to work with the city, and from what she understands, filed the application early to avoid increases in filing fees.

“What the city planning staff and I have been saying consistently is that we will never approve this in its current rendition,” Wong-Tam said. “We’re going to need to see some very significant adjustments based on the criteria and concerns that the city staff has identified.”

Briar de Lange, executive director of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, said the proposal was on their radar, but that it was too early to comment. The applicant could not be reached for comment before press time. A community consultation is scheduled to take place Oct. 29.