October 2, 2012
The city is abuzz about David Mirvish’s skyline-changing development, but there are still years of negotiations and planning ahead.
Developers of the project submitted an application to the city Monday in conjunction with a news conference formally announcing a three-building complex designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
“These towers can become a symbol of what Toronto can be,” said Mirvish, the son of Honest Ed’s founder Ed Mirvish, who built a sprawling entertainment empire across Toronto. “I am not building condominiums, I am building three sculptures for people to live in.”
Located at King and John Sts., the project consists of three towers each as tall as 85 storeys, containing retail, residential and gallery space. The gallery will house Mirvish’s substantial art collection, considered one of the finest in the country, for free public viewing.
The bottom six storeys, known collectively as the podium, will house retail stores and restaurants.
“We have this image of Toronto that doesn’t exist anymore and we’re longing with nostalgia for it,” said Gehry, who is originally from Toronto and designed the recent remodel of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “As a kid I used to go up and down John St. To think of it as a major cultural corridor is exciting.”
But before any of these visions can be realized, the city planning department must sign off on the project and council has to approve it.
Peter Kofman, president of developer Projectcore Inc., hopes the process will take between eight and 12 months, but the city’s chief planner thinks otherwise.
“Could it be done under two years? Absolutely. But that would be a relatively aggressive timeline,” said chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat.
She said there will be ample public consultation and evaluation, as is typical for large projects like this one.
“From my perspective, the key measure in any planning application is we want to make sure we’re increasing and enhancing quality of life and creating a very livable condition, both for the new residents coming into the area and existing residents,” Keesmaat said.
Currently the project is slated to have 2,709 units ranging from 450 to 1,100 square feet. One tower will host a 25,000-square-foot campus for OCAD University, and another a 60,000-square-foot gallery. Section 37 money — a fee paid by developers so that they can build taller buildings — is slated to go towards those two features.
Councillor Adam Vaughan has pushed for 10 per cent of units in new developments to be three-bedroom units, to accommodate families.
“Every project in the ward is expected to meet that threshold,” he said. “David Mirvish understands that, and Frank Gehry is a huge proponent.”
If the plan gets council approval, construction will begin first on the easternmost tower, slated for the corner of King St. W. and Ed Mirvish Way.
Work will proceed in phases according to when the market is ripe for condominium sales.
“If the market was buoyant and we could feel our absorption would be appropriate, maybe we’d do the whole thing,” Kofman said. “We’re going to do this in a way that’s responsible and careful, so we can manage it in a way that the market allows us to do so.”
via the toronto star