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NEWS: New tower for Bloor and Spadina (Jan. 2020)

January 31st, 2020 · No Comments

36 storeys and a re-think of a tired corner

A rendering by the Gleaner of the scale of the project superimposed on the corner of Bloor St. W. and Spadina Rd. GRAPHIC BY NEILAND BRISSENDEN

By Khyrsten Mieras

Connectivity, diversity, and adaptability, these are the buzz words promoters are using to describe a proposed redevelopment of the northwest corner of Bloor and Spadina. Members of the development team presented the project’s updated design during a community meeting at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church in December 2019.

The developers began preliminary consultations in November 2018. Owners of 334 Bloor St. W. and 344 Bloor St. W. and adjoining parking lot (to the east face of Shopper’s Drug Mart) have partnered on this project and billed it as a unified 350 Bloor St. W.  

A recent meeting held by the design team and developers included two existing property owners and architects from IBI Group. They informed stakeholders of updates to the plan in advance of submitting an application to the city for approval. Key topics on the agenda included the planning framework, summary of previous meetings, and proposal for floor plans and landscapes.

Peter Venetas independently represents the developers and their process for community engagement, design, and approvals. He said that the redevelopment “offers a really amazing opportunity to provide both new housing, replacement rental housing, expanded offices, and then an interconnection to the TTC, as well as a series of other benefits to the public realm.”

For connectivity, he says the project aims to join the building with the surrounding neighbourhood and make improvements to the public realm through landscaping and widened sidewalks. There will also be a connection to other sites through subway integration that allows access between the building, the Spadina subway station, and loading and parking areas. 

Their plan for diversity and adaptability will be incorporated through various uses of the building for retail, office, condo, and rental units, as well as modes of transportation like biking, walking, and public transit. Crossroads will also play a role in the building’s design, as it will be located on the northwest corner of the intersection at Bloor Street West and Spadina Road next to the subway. There will also be outdoor spaces with trees at street level and terraces on upper levels.

Several community members who attended voiced their concerns on issues like environmental stewardship, affordable housing, parking, shadow studies, and height of the projected 36-storey building. Team members said they are still making adjustments to the proposal.

In a subsequent interview with the Gleaner, Councillor Mike Layton explained that maximum height for the development is based on the Knox College Corridor, which protects the view of Knox College from the south side of College Street at Spadina Avenue to the north side of Bloor Street West.

“That would essentially put the maximum height of the building around 110 metres, which if you translate that into storeys is probably in the low 30s,” said Layton. “But then there’s also other things to address: the shadow impacts on any park space in the northwest [and] the transition from the tall building to the neighbourhood designation further west. So there’s a lot of other things that may impact the height that we don’t know yet.”

“Around sustainability the city has our green building standards that this building would have to follow as well. But when you look at how our city’s growing…it’s difficult to argue that this wouldn’t be an appropriate place for development, it’s just how is this development going to interact with the surrounding area,” Layton added.

Edward Leman, co-chair of Planning and Zoning for the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA), said that the project developer approached the ARA in the summer of 2018 to collaborate. Along with the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA), they set up a working group and held meetings to discuss plans and address concerns for the development. 

“I think the really important thing is the shadow studies and the underground parking. They haven’t decided how much and that has a big impact on Bloor, the shops on Bloor, and so on,” said Leman. “So, we don’t know the two very important bits of information still missing.”

Venetas noted that it is difficult to speculate the timing for the completion of the project, as the application has not yet been submitted. He said that the approval process will likely take two to three years and the construction start date will depend on the market.

The developer’s representative declined repeated requests to share an image of their proposed development for this story.

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