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NEWS: Community input changes Bloor/Spadina build (Mar. 2021)

March 26th, 2021 · No Comments

Developer returns to the table with a 35-storey plan for corner

A mix of commercial and residential development is proposed for the northwest corner of Bloor and Spadina. The plan includes a commercial podium. COURTESY IBI GROUP

By Mary An

After four community workshops and some community consultation meetings, the developers of a 35-storey mixed use building proposed for the northwest corner of Bloor and Spadina are confident they have addressed most community concerns. 

“I think we’ve really worked hard to understand some of the community input and the issues that were identified. We put forward a development application that speaks to that with those development principles,” said Project Manager Peter Venetas.

The plan includes an atrium. COURTESY IBI GROUP

The development team – consisting of five different companies – plans to tear down and redevelop the existing buildings at this location. 

In a consultation meeting in January of 2020, community members expressed concerns about protecting the view of the Knox College [now the Faculty of Architecture] corridor, shadow impacts, and social housing. In a recent community meeting, the developers addressed all of these concerns and displayed renderings and plans of the proposed building. One rendering was of [the former] Knox College and the minimized impact of the new proposal. 

“The idea was to keep the buildings north of College and Spadina below the view corridor of [the former] Knox College when viewed from the northeast and the northwest corners of College and Spadina,” said Senior City Planner  Barry Brooks during the meeting. “There is no projection above those at the moment of the proposed building, because the applicant was aware that that was something which should not be breached.”

Within their proposed 35-storey mixed use building there will be 380 residential units and 24 rental replacement units. COURTESY IBI GROUP

The development team also displayed shadow impact renderings of the site displaying how far the shadow would go each month and each hour. 

“It’s a very fast moving shadow, not staying in a particular building or area for more than an hour. It is a tall building, and will have some shadow, but I would say the impacts are minimal,” said Mansoor Kazerouni, an architect with the IBI group. 

The site currently has a few rental residential units. According to Mike Dror, an Associate of Bousfields Inc., current residents at the site have the right to return to the new building to a unit of similar type, size, and rent. Current residents will also be notified four months in advance to vacate the unit, and will receive a compensation package. 

Within their proposed 35-storey mixed use building there will be 380 residential units and 24 rental replacement units. No affordable housing units have been announced. 

“We understand what’s happening in Toronto right now, and this project will be subject to a Section 37 agreement,” said Venetas during the meeting. “Whether or not that gets allocated on site or that gets allocated elsewhere in the Ward is probably something that would happen as this process continues forward.”

A Section 37 agreement is a part of Ontario’s Planning Act, which allows the city to ask for better community benefits, such as the inclusion of affordable housing. 

Though the developers are confident they have addressed many resident issues with the proposed building, there are still some lingering concerns. 

“Toronto will look like a pincushion with these needle towers,” Paul Richard, long-time Annex resident said in an interview with the Gleaner.
“What I like about this neighbourhood is that it’s close to the subway, and it’s a nice sort of residential neighbourhood. I don’t want that downtown feel. So, I feel like it’s destroying the residential neighbourhood atmosphere.”

Richard also put an emphasis on quality of life with the lack of and impacted green space this building will bring, due to its position in the neighbourhood. The building will cast shade on Paul Martel Park to the east, Richard said. He also argued that instead of needle towers there should be more green space for the community. 

“There’s no point in building more residential buildings if the quality of life in the neighbourhood is very minimal,” Richard said. “We need some long-term planning that’s comprehensive that takes into consideration the environmental heritage, the architectural heritage, cultural heritage, and livability of the neighbourhood.”

The current building at the very corner of Bloor and Spadina was constructed in the pre-war era around 1914. In order to preserve that building, the city must assess its heritage value.


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