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Lower Sherbourne might be home to huge development

Posted by Robyn Urback / October 15, 2012

toronto sherbourne condoThe area of Front and Lower Sherbourne Street is currently a skyscraper free zone. There are plenty of tall towers nearby, of course, but the immediate area remains one of relatively low (literally and figuratively) development despite its valuable location. That might change, however, if the City approves the Pemberton Group's large-scale development proposal.

That proposal calls for the overhaul of an entire city block, which will stretch from Front Street to the north, Lower Sherbourne to the west, Princess Street to the east, and The Esplanade to the south. Currently under review by the City of Toronto, the project will include two residential towers of 34 and 33 storeys, connected to 13- and 17-storey base buildings. In its current incarnation, the proposal also includes plans for an underground garage accommodating 913 parking spots, as well as retail or commercial spaces at ground level.

lower sherbourne new developmentThe area in question (177 - 197 Front Street East) is currently occupied by a Sobey's grocery store and an Acura dealership — not exactly beacons of urban development. But to say this proposal will bring new life to the area is undoubtedly a gross understatement. Count 'em — a whopping 1,663 units will occupy the spot if approved, with 795 units in the first tower and 868 in the second. That means this block — which currently only sees the odd ILX shopper or commuter picking up milk on the way home from work — will see a massive increase in activity. It will also see new heights that are pretty substantial for the immediate area.

Nevertheless, there are obvious kinks that need to be worked out before this project wins approval. Current zoning requirements call for 1,140 parking spaces for the area; this project includes 913. Drafts also reflect two towers with only one- and two-bedroom units, and we all know three-bedroom suites (with families!) make for healthier communities (right Adam Vaughan?).

The tiered architecture does lend itself to plenty of green roofs (which is better than the grey surface parking lot there now), but it also looks a little... prison-esque? Uber-commercial? Uninspired? I'm not sure. But a spot sandwiched between the Distillery and St. Lawrence Market ought to dance with a little character, and (from up here on my inflated high horse) it doesn't seem like Pemberton is playing with a whole lot. The real question, though, is whether Front and Lower Sherbourne can handle a project of such massive scale. Will it be a much-needed area overhaul, or simply overwhelm?

Discussion

35 Comments

Jake / October 15, 2012 at 11:44 am
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What a monstrous freak of a building. Its massing and density is ridiculous. That 'pit' in the center (probably a courtyard) would be unbearably dark at most times. A tall building be designed better than this...
Rob / October 15, 2012 at 11:51 am
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Anything built around there should attempt to connect with St. Lawrence Market, Distillery, and the art deco buildings around Union Station. You know, create flow.

But they won't, so it's a moot point.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat replying to a comment from Rob / October 15, 2012 at 11:59 am
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Agreed. Ideally this building should be brick clad in red/brown, kind of like the London on the Esplanade did with one of its towers. But that's expensive so, green glass it is!
Michael / October 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm
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Awful! Green space on a roof should not be a substitute for a proper ground level area with sun and trees. One of the worst uses of land I have seen in a while.
michael / October 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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lol. I just have to laugh. You think traffic getting in and out of the city is bad now? We should be focusing on transportation infrastructure not cramming more people into impossibly small places. Alas, it will still sell out though and money talks.
SlumlordDeveloper / October 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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I think the design was inspired by Kowloon Walled City.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139914/A-rare-insight-Kowloon-Walled-City.html
GI Poo / October 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm
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Looks like a squashed Manulife Centre. What's the issue?
Shahbaz Yarbakhti / October 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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What an amazing project .I love it .Thanks a lot for designer .
Rob / October 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm
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This City is a fucking joke. Just came back from a brief visit to Chicago, and while dense, I'm assuming developers were forced to adhere to some standards of design - the buildings, even the new condos, are beautiful (or at a minimum, interesting).
Chris P / October 15, 2012 at 01:01 pm
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Honestly, that looks like a piece of s$!t
Ford4ever / October 15, 2012 at 01:23 pm
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I think they took St. Jamestown's buildings and pressed them all together for this. Pretty awful.
Martin Grove / October 15, 2012 at 01:49 pm
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Stalag Sherbourne.
EveryonesOpinion / October 15, 2012 at 01:54 pm
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With the amount community resources & schools in the area, it should have 3 bedroom units
EveryonesOpinion / October 15, 2012 at 02:00 pm
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Even though it doesn't meet the proper zoning requirements, it'll still be built. The city planner in this city must be getting AMAZING kickbacks from the developers.
flo / October 15, 2012 at 02:22 pm
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What was once a quiet community will be turned into a loud, messy, disconnected, and uninteresting part of our city. This is like a concrete island that separates the peaceful walk from the distillery to the market. And with units that only have the capacity to hold singles or couples (lile most other buildings in the area), dont expect friendly hellos or a charming neighbourhood to walk through... Not to mention the gross OVER-urbanization of this city. Building another green glass condominium only means building more shantis. These structures are cheap and decay in only a few years. We can't ignore the future residents of these places but like someone said before money talks...
James / October 15, 2012 at 02:23 pm
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Yeah - props to Chris P, this project looks like a piece of crap!
Heather / October 15, 2012 at 02:27 pm
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Funny how the designer dumped green all over the terrible design, in the hopes of persuading chumps with green-washing. Why isn't this "Mega Boat" of a building designed to a higher standard?
Crocography / October 15, 2012 at 02:51 pm
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Watch Pam McConnell green light this monstrosity. Talking about slumifying Ward 28!
Dave / October 15, 2012 at 03:17 pm
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I'll repeat Michael's earlier commenta and just say "One of the worst uses of land I have seen in a while."
Jakob / October 15, 2012 at 03:23 pm
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"Megacity One" is the first thing that comes to mind. Should work out to be a good location for shooting a Dredd sequel.
Jen / October 15, 2012 at 03:25 pm
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Clearly this is a really ugly development - but what can we do to stop it? or change it? I'm sick and tired of always reading and seeing these ugly things go up. I love this city, but I wonder how all other cities can look nice - except Toronto...we live in architectural puke.
Maria / October 15, 2012 at 03:43 pm
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Please don't. This is just PURE TRASH.
David / October 15, 2012 at 04:17 pm
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I think that this is the ORIGINAL proposal which the City Planners were not too keen on (to be kind) and at a meeting of the neighbourhood association (SLNA) local residents were told that the developer was 'going back to the drawing board. It is truely ghastly so I certainly hope that we are looking at 'old news" - almost anything would be better than this!
Davidsc / October 15, 2012 at 04:41 pm
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This IS a ghastly proposal and is hopefully undergoing MAJOR revision. The site is right across the street from the 154 Front Street proposal (Greyhound site) that Cityzen want to build. The Greyhound proposal is at the OMB this week (16th floor 655 Bay Street). I suspect if that proposal (two 26-floor towers with no green-space) is approved then this one will be approved by the OMB too in due course. Ahhhhh
jack / October 15, 2012 at 05:10 pm
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It will get approved. Too much Section 37 and Section 45 money at stake. Right Adam Vaughan?
frank / October 15, 2012 at 05:37 pm
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"this block — which currently only sees the odd ILX shopper or commuter picking up milk on the way home from work — will see a massive increase in activity"

That's an incredibly dismissive take on what happens in the neighbourhood, as if the block itself was completely isolated. The Sobey's is a big grocery store, not some 7-11 convenience store for 'commuters' to get milk. The block is surrounded by mid-rise residential buildings, including 3 schools. The Esplanade along the site's southern edge bustles with families taking their kids to school. These are primarily low income folks, which perhaps explains why the streetscape isn't overflowing with trendy Ossington-like activity. Adulation for this kind of project seems to suggest that the natural progression of a neighbourhood should be one of gentrification.

The only real blight is the Acura dealership.

Also, FWIW, Pam McConnell has spoken eloquently and forcefully against a series of tall 1-2 bedroom King-west style condo projects in the neighbourhood. Residents aren't against development, but the official plan calls for mid-rise residential projects that fit in with their neighbours, not 30+ story profit machines.
JohnnyD / October 15, 2012 at 06:45 pm
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Meh, there have been much worse. The stretch of Sherbourne between Front & The Esplanade is truly awful right now, and the podium they're proposing is pretty much in keeping with the height of the surrounding neighbourhood.

This could be a perfectly good fabric building without too much work. Add a healthy amount of three bedroom units, and ensure that it has an active street level with retail & community spaces (require a subsidized space for daycare use as a section 37 benefit) instead of the all-too-common long blank walls/windows (with the condo's amenity area and garage access). Then step back the podium a bit on the north and south sides, and take a few storeys off the towers & shift them south a bit to greatly decrease shadow impacts.
Rick / October 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm
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They should also connect it to PATH
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Rick / October 16, 2012 at 06:12 am
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They can't-that would require building a tunnel all the way from Yonge Street all the way to here just to make it happen (for the record, there are a few condos in the St. Lawrence district-including one at the corner of Jarvis and Esplanade that's almost completed-and NONE of those have tunnels to PATH. So, why should this ill-advised behemoth have any?

I ask again-why can't all of these buildings be built in Scarborough, North York, East York, Etobicoke, and the 'Saug? Also, why cant they build this to a reasonable level like a couple of the newer ones already built in downtown Toronto and Richmond Hill?
Grimm / October 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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Looks a lot like the tacky 60s density of St James town, but with shiny glass. Ugly, dreary and too much.
Zeke replying to a comment from Shahbaz Yarbakhti / October 17, 2012 at 02:31 pm
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Are you blindly praising the quality of the rendering? What about the shitty building in the rendering?
TDotRome / October 17, 2012 at 05:01 pm
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Oh look, the Soviets have travelled forward in time to build us a grey concrete block. Super.
David / December 13, 2012 at 11:14 am
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What a piece of shit. Fuck that's an ugly building. WAY TO FUCK TORONTO UP JUST A LITTLE MORE.
bobo replying to a comment from Shahbaz Yarbakhti / April 17, 2014 at 08:05 pm
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Friggin !diot
bobo replying to a comment from Zeke / April 17, 2014 at 08:09 pm
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He's a fucking turd who is probably going to make 50 bucks out of this development because his uncle is hvac consultant. Toronto would sell it's own children for profit. Fuck this city

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