Gas stations in and around Toronto’s core keep disappearing, and it doesn’t look like the trend is slowing down -- at least not if a downtown development proposal for the northwest corner of King Street West and Strachan Avenue gets the green light from the city.

Intentional Capital, a boutique developer co-founded by businessmen Rod Bell and Scott Bonham, is proposing a 16-storey rental-apartment building for the site of the Esso gas station at 952 King West. 

About three-quarters (157) of the building’s 213 apartments would be one-bedroom suites, which isn’t surprising considering King West is known as a top neighbourhood for young professionals. The remaining 56 apartments include 33 two-bedroom and 23 three-bedroom layouts, according to rezoning and site plan approval applications recently submitted to the city by planning firm Bousfields Inc. (the landowners are listed as 952 King West Holdings Inc.).

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As proposed, the building, which is being marketed as Nine Five Two, features 578 sq. m of ground-floor retail facing King Street, as well as a pair of double-storey townhouse units off Strachan. On the third floor, the indoor amenity space lets out onto a private terrace. The 10th floor features another terrace, while the building is topped off with a green roof. 

952 kingwest 2Rendering: Sweeny&Co Architects

Two underground levels provide room for 57 parking spots, and the proposal also includes 221 bicycle spaces. Whether on two wheels or on foot, the area is highly accessible, boasting a Walk Score of 94 out of 100 and a Bike Score of 93. 

Straddling the edge of Toronto’s Liberty Village and Niagara neighbourhoods, the potential development site is also highly connected to transit, notes a plan planning rationale submitted with the proposal: “Given its location in proximity to existing frequent transit services such as 504-King TTC streetcar and the 63 Ossington bus route, as well as planned higher order transit services including the planned King-Liberty SmartTrack station and the planned King-Bathurst station along the proposed Ontario Line subway, the subject site offers an excellent opportunity to create a transit-supportive development.”

952 kingwest 3Rendering: Sweeny&Co Architects

In keeping with the neighbourhood’s aesthetic, the design by Sweeny&Co Architects favours brickwork over the curtain walls of glass on many new developments. “The proposal will use high-quality durable materials, such as brick, compatible with those used in the adjacent buildings along King Street West,” according to the planning rationale.

With Nine Five Two, Intentional Capital extends its footprint in the immediate area. In 2017, Bell purchased the Palace Arms at 950 King Street West. Intentional Capital is now spearheading the redevelopment of the one-time hotel, dating back to 1890. The plans involve restoring the historic three-storey building and constructing an 11-storey addition on top for a total of 192 rental apartments. The Ontario Land Tribunal, a provincial body that settles land disputes, approved the application this summer, according to the planning rationale.  

Intentional Capital’s newest proposal enters the pipeline as the Toronto region’s rental market remains drum tight despite the housing correction underway on the ownership side. Greater Toronto Area rents have skyrocketed 20% in the past year, and few would argue the city doesn’t need more apartments for lease. 

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