The site of an existing 12-storey Tower-in-the-Park style apartment building is at the centre of a proposal for an infill development that would see the construction of a new 35-storey tower in Etobicoke. Located at 1276 Islington Avenue, the proposal comes from developers Ranee Management who have enlisted Kirkor Architects Planners to preside over the design of the project.
The project would execute a strategy to retain the existing building while making improvements to the public realm, improving the site’s relationship to public transit, and delivering 366 new rental units to the community.
Looking north at the complete design for the proposed 35-storey development, image from submission to City of Toronto
The proposal consists of an application for a Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) that was submitted to the City in late December. To advance the argument for approval, the site’s location, on Islington Avenue just north of Bloor Street West, is a key consideration. With Islington Station located less than 500m to the south, offering service to the Bloor Line 2 subway, the site’s positioning within a major transit station area (MTSA) makes a favourable case. It’s also worth noting that this particular area is one of several protected MTSAs in Toronto, meaning that any development must include an affordable housing component, in the interest of fostering mixed-income communities.
Map view of the site and the surrounding area, image from submission to City of Toronto
The site itself enjoys a sizeable total area of 114,877 ft², and is generally triangular in shape, with frontages along Islington Avenue to the east, Cordova Avenue to the west, and Central Park Roadway to the north. A number of factors complicate the development process, however. Not only will the existing 12-storey building need to be retained, but a single storey hydro electric substation at the south corner of the site must be retained as well; the site also contains a sloped grade that rises from east to west by a margin of about one storey, which allowed for a partially above grade parking garage to be constructed for the current building; the proposal, however, would require the demolition of this structure.
Satellite view of the site facing southwest, with existing structures, image from Apple Maps
The proposal’s massing would see the new tower situated in the southern half of the site, rising from a 3-storey podium, and replacing the esiting parking garage and surface parking. Due to its irregularly-shaped floor-plate, the tower features a set of singular elevations that are defined by the tower’s unconventional shape. The building’s prominent southeast corner draws attention to the formal deviations that occur elsewhere, like a chamfered northeast corner. The tower’s mass is complicated further by a protrusion on the west side, adding an obtuse angle to the southern elevation in a way that seems to reference the massing of the existing T-shaped, 12-storey building.
Architectural floorplans demonstrates irregular shape of tower floorplate, image from submission to City of Toronto
The elevation drawings shed light on the proposed finishings for the angular exterior, which mainly consist of precast concrete and vision glass. Concrete panels would fill the spaces between the windows where the balconies aren’t present, creating the offset-rectangle pattern that appears to repeat every three storeys. Meanwhile, where there are balconies, light grey spandrel panels would be employed to fill the gaps there. Down on the podium, more precast concrete works with metal panelling and dark grey spandrel to clad the 3-storey base volume.
Elevation drawings of the tower outline cladding materials, image from submission to City of Toronto
Interestingly, the proposal has thought hard about how to encourage more public transit use among future residents, considering the proximity to Islington Station, and came up with a plan to reduce vehicle parking to incite this transition. With 145 parking spaces currently servicing the existing building, the proposal would replace 114 of them while adding an additional 206 spaces for the new building. These 320 total spaces would be housed in a 3-storey underground garage that would be built in phases to maintain as much of the current resident parking as possible.
Compared to the old minimum standard which encourages over 500 spaces, this direction would have a positive impact on the use of public transit while simultaneously limiting vehicle trips to and from the development.
Architectural drawing of 3-level underground parking garage, image from submission to City of Toronto
Finally, a number of public realm improvements would be implemented in the form of new pedestrian walkways through the site, as well as an at-grade outdoor amenity area. With a total of 366 rental units proposed, 18% of the total would be 2-bedroom layouts, while another 10% would feature 3-bedrooms. Four elevators are proposed in the new building, with a ratio of 1 elevator per 91.5 suites, a good number nicely below the 1 elevator per 100 suite threshold that UrbanToronto has been noting of late.
UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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