Tag Archives: Mercer Street
By Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Prominent Toronto architect Peter Clewes and condo king Brad J. Lamb are facing off with city planners who oppose building a “beautiful” 45-storey tower in the heart of the theatre district.
Mr. Lamb, a prolific salesman turned developer, believes the soaring structure will be a jewel in Toronto’s high rise crown. He and Mr. Clewes, of architectsAlliance, have teamed up with Niche Development, HarHay Construction Management to create 224 King Street West with a public park on what is now a parking lot, next to the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
City staff, however, have given the project an “aggressive no,” as local councillor Adam Vaughan puts it, because they say the height matches nothing in the neighbourhood and could set a precedent for demolishing historical buildings in the King-Spadina corridor.
“There’s lots of good things about the project, the way it steps back from King Street and gives the Royal Alex a really dignified position on the street, the public square next to it,” said Mr. Vaughan (Trinity-Spadina), who called the building beautiful. “I’ve talked to David Mirvish, and a place for the theatre crowd to gather and mill about is wonderful.”
He said the difficulty is that that the building will rise in a very tight space, between Duncan and Simcoe streets, and could present “significant consequences” for the heritage buildings in the neighbourhood.
“Once you hand out that kind of density on a site with heritage buildings, it makes economic sense to demolish,” he said. And it sets a precedent on King Street, he argues, which will open the floodgates to requests for 40-storey plus condos “and it’s impossible to say no.”
Mr. Clewes, of 18 Yorkville and Tip Top Lofts fame, says as the city intensifies, King West is the next logical area to develop. Both he and Mr. Lamb consider the height a “non issue” because there are a stack of approved tall buildings in the vicinity, including the 66-storey Shangri-La at University and Richmond, a 38-storey building at John and Mercer streets, the Ritz Carlton and the 35-storey Boutique building where residents are currently moving in. As for threatening the future of historical buildings, “our submission is that they are protected under heritage legislation,” said Mr. Clewes.
“The idea was that when you’re driving up to this property you wouldn’t even notice it was a high rise. You would just think it was an open park and then towards the back of the lot is this high rise that doesn’t even feel like it’s on King Street, it feels like it’s on Pearl Street,” said Mr. Lamb, who said the public space in the front that would include a vertical wall of water that would freeze into an ice sculpture in the winter. “It’s a stunning beautiful piece of urban architecture from a park standpoint, and then there’s no tower like this in the city.”
The plan is to build six suites per floor, with 9.5 to 10 foot ceilings, and prices ranging from $350,000 to $2.5-million, or about $600 a square foot. “We want it to be the most beautiful residential piece of architecture in the city,” said Mr. Lamb, who believes city planners are “wildly wrong” about what the building should be. “It would be a shame to build something in the order of 15 to 20 storeys, and fill the whole thing in like a big ugly block.”
The proposal will be debated at next week’s Toronto East York community council. The developers say they have already filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, in case council sides with the planners.
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