Toronto's doomed Rail Deck Park may soon become a sea of condo towers.

The proposed Rail Deck District would see nine towers, ranging in height from 20 to 65 storeys, placed on a stretch of decked-over rail corridor just south of Front Street between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way.

A consortium of development companies are behind the project, including Craft Development Corporation, Kingsmen Group Inc., and Fengate Asset Management.

The development would include 6,126 new condo units, a hotel, three daycare centres, a community hub, and retail space. Site plans detail a "focus on family-sized units" and a "commitment to affordable housing."

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An L-shaped City-owned park would snake around several of the towers, and, according to the plans, there is space for a "potential City-owned park expansion" that would extend the green space from Bathurst to Spadina Avenue.

"Rail Deck District seeks to transform a major physical and visual barrier in the city's fabric, into a new mixed-use community with the potential for significant new park space in the heart of downtown Toronto," the site plans read.

The City had previously planned to build a three-acre public park along the site. Known as Rail Deck Park, the plan dissolved in 2021 when the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (now the Ontario Land Tribunal) sided with Craft Development Corporation on a previous development application for the rail corridor that had been rejected by the City amidst their plans to build Rail Deck Park.

The company owns the air rights above the rail corridor, having purchased them from the Canadian National Railway in 2013. In early 2020, Robert Sabato, President of Craft, offered to lease the air rights to the City of Toronto for $25M per year, or sell them outright for $340M, a price he called "well below fair market value." The City, however, did not buy or lease the air rights.

Rail deck park 2 1024x586Rail Deck District

Initial plans for the Rail Deck District development, which were submitted in the spring of 2022, included 11 towers with the highest being "north of 70 storeys." The plans were altered following "fundamental concerns" from City staff.

In the updated plans, the City-owned park spans 1.21 hectares, while the potential expansion parcels are 1.26 hectares and 1.05 hectares.

During a virtual community consultation meeting in April, Andrea Bake, a Senior Project Manager for the City of Toronto, said staff were trying to determine how much money the City could put into the project to make the park as large as possible, noting that the expansion parcels "aren't free" and that it's "not a small expense" to build over the rail corridor.

"Securing a meaningful public park over the rail corridor remains a fundamental shared objective of the Rail Deck District team and the City," the site plans read.

"The ultimate size, configuration, and financial contributions for construction of the public park remains subject to further discussion and coordination between the City and the Rail Deck District team."