45 the esplanade

Controversial hotel in Toronto could soon close and be replaced by a 36-storey tower

A Toronto hotel that was converted into a temporary homeless shelter in early 2021 could be changing yet again, this time through a proposed redevelopment that would replace the Novotel building on The Esplanade with a new tower.

Submitted to city planners on Wednesday, the redevelopment proposal for 45 The Esplanade would spell the end of the former Novotel Toronto Centre, currently under lease by the city.

Renderings and the full scope of the redevelopment are expected to emerge in the coming weeks, but for now, details are fairly scant.

It looks like they'll be replacing the current eight-storey building — known for its ground-floor colonnade and Parisian-inspired design — with a 36-storey mixed-use building.

And fear not, the distinctive flatiron-inspired condo at 25 The Esplanade — which shares the design themes of its soon-to-be-lost neighbour — would be untouched by the redevelopment plans.

The tower would contain 8,627 square metres of non-residential space (possibly retail, office, or even space for a new hotel) along with 45,407 square metres of residential space.

It is not yet known whether the 682 residential units are being proposed as condominium or rentals, a detail that should emerge when the application materials are revealed in the days to come.

While communities love to complain about new towers blocking their views and adding traffic to their streets, area residents have made their disdain for the current temporary shelter on-site well-known, and some might even welcome the new proposal.

The shelter has been the subject of constant controversy since opening in February, raising concerns from the community and news reports sharing horror stories of used needles, piles of garbage, drug dealing, and even human excrement in front of the building.

Much to the chagrin of local dissenters, the city extended its lease on the property in November as it was set to expire in December. The hotel-turned-shelter will continue to function in this location until at least April.

And while the NIMBY crowd typically fights tall buildings kicking and screaming, this could end up being one instance where opinions are more divided, as many (wealthier) area residents have made their thoughts about the shelter clear in other media reports.

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