These days more than ever, Toronto is synonymous with big buildings that make big impressions. But if you survey the city’s array of high-rises, both current and up-and-coming, you’ll notice that most tend to abide by a rather boxy persuasion: four sides, four corners, and maybe a series of stepbacks (in true Toronto fashion).

Against that context, a triangular, 38-storey hotel tower slated for 820 Church Street in the heart of Yorkville brings something unique to the table. And in a twist of events, the land the development was set to sit on has come up for grabs.

The sale of the 5,120-sq.-ft development site is being jointly brokered by Colliers Private Capital Investment Group and Colliers Hotels and is touted in the listing as an “exclusive opportunity” to acquire the property, which is currently zoned for 38 storeys, as aforementioned, as well as 118,920 sq. ft of gross floor area and 172 units.

“The property holds strong potential to be converted into either a residential condominium tower or a purpose-built rental development, providing maximum optionality for a developer,” the listing also says.

Although it seems that the developer behind the 38-storey hotel has gone to some lengths to remain anonymous — they’re listed in the planning documents only as "820 Church GP Inc." — and it’s not clear why they’re opting to sell at this point, we do know that development plans for the site have been in the works since at least early 2021, when an application for a zoning by-law amendment was filed with the City of Toronto.

At that time, a 32-storey (105 metre) hotel with 168 rooms was proposed, however, city staff argued that the proposed tower was “not acceptable in its current form,” “too tall,” and failed to “respond appropriately to the planned context” or “provide appropriate transition to the low-rise neighbourhood to the east.”

Despite those qualms, the next iteration of the proposal came with six additional storeys. In early 2023, a 38-storey (124-metre) hotel with 172 units (to be oriented to the northeast) was proposed. Two bicycling spaces were proposed at that time, but no vehicular parking.

Contrary to city staff’s commentary on the proposal in 2021, a decision report from February 2023 says that the proposed tower will provide “a transition in height” from the high-rise area (to the south) and a low-rise area (to the northeast).

It also highlights that the base of the proposed hotel tower “has been massed to respond to the existing and planned context surrounding the site and is appropriate for the site,” while the ground to fourth floor of the development fronting Church Street “are setback to allow for a wide public realm that will accommodate pedestrians and street trees.”

In the time that’s elapsed since that February 2023 report was circulated, the site owner secured the necessary zoning approvals from City Council and went as far as to obtain a permit to demolish the gas station, car wash, and repair garage occupying the site this past July.

Listed Commercial