Toronto’s interim chief planner is imploring City Council to refuse a 29-storey condo proposal slated for 1117 Queen Street West, saying that the proposed development, in its current form, will not fit in with the existing context of the area.
A report dated January 25 recommends against approving the corresponding rezoning application “because the application has not demonstrated that the proposed tall building can be accommodated on the site in a manner that is appropriate within the existing context, and that conserves the cultural heritage value and attributes of the existing Postal Station C building.”
It adds that the development, as proposed, “does not conform” with provincial land use policies, the city’s Official Plan, or the Ontario Land Tribunal-approved Official Plan Amendment 445.
Council is set to meet on Tuesday, at which point they will review the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Amendment applications for 1117 Queen Street West, amongst a number of other items, including a new speculation tax designed to clamp down on foreign homebuyers.
Toronto will fail on housing without SIGNIFICANT CULTURE CHANGE in city planning.
City staff reject 1117 Queen Street W for not being “appropriate within existing context” even though it preserves the heritage building. @oliviachow @BravoDavenport https://t.co/seXcLfAFSf pic.twitter.com/hSaxeVKSW3
— More Neighbours Toronto (@MoreNeighbours) February 1, 2024
The proposal in question was submitted to the City this past November, and there are two rather striking facets of it worth noting.
The first is that it calls for the adaptive reuse of a century-old post office — which, notably, is one of Toronto's oldest purpose-built postal offices. It features Beaux-Arts architecture and was designed by Samuel George Curry in 1902. The property has been listed on the Heritage Register since 1973, and Toronto City Council adopted a Notice of Intention to Designate the site in 2023. Canada Post ceased operations at 1117 Queen Street West in 2020.
The second notable component of the proposal is the design of the tower. Renderings prepared by Giannone Petricone Associates show a swanky semi-circular tower perched atop a two-storey heritage base. Above the base, the third floor is inset with a glazed element, which helps to differentiate it from the tower above. Slanted columns extend from the base of the tower at the rear of the tower, framing an exterior performance stage that would face Lisgar Park to the south. The inset area is expected to accommodate opportunities for arts-related programming.
But the City Planning Division’s main qualm with the development seems to be the tower’s height. Reaching just over 102 metres at its highest point, the development stands to bring a fair bit of height to the area, known as the West Queen West Triangle, which is currently characterized by a mix of low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings no higher than 22 storeys.