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139 church street toronto

Twisting condo tower to replace a row of iconic Toronto pawn shops

Toronto's old pawnbroker row has served generations of Toronto residents with a place to buy and sell used goods, though it looks like time may finally be up for the dense concentration of pawn shops on the block of Church Street between Queen and Shuter.

A plan has been evolving since 2018 to redevelop the properties at 137 through 147 Church Street and 18-20 Dalhousie Street with a 53-storey condo tower that would join the growing forest of residential buildings transforming the Queen and Church area.

Since proposed in June 2018, the project from developer Pemberton Group has gone through a series of design changes in 2020 and 2021.

The project was approved via a decision from the Ontario Land Tribunal issued this past July, resulting in yet another resubmission in November 2022 that refines and finalizes the third Graziani + Corazza Architects design introduced the year before.

139 church street toronto

The updated application comes with some flashy renderings, though the architecture firm in question has somewhat of a reputation for wowing the public with renderings and then delivering underwhelming final products. The behemoth known as Aura offers a pretty good case study on this topic.

Changes introduced since the previous plan include an increase in height to almost 175 metres, though the floor count has been reduced from 54 to 53.

The tower's sculptural mid-section has also been altered, with a curvilinear transition between the lower tower element and the upper tower element has shifted from the 27th floor down to the 25th level.

139 church street toronto

Stepping along the east tower facade has been relocated to levels 29 through 31 from the previous placement on floors 30 through 34.

As with the 2020 and 2021 designs, the tower base features the retained frontages of existing buildings at 137-147 Church, a feature not included in the initial proposal from back in 2018.

139 church street toronto

The resulting zoning-approved plan — which now seeks Site Plan Approval from city planners — calls for 31,222.4 square metres of space, primarily dedicated to residential at 30,929.4 square metres, or over 99 per cent of the total area, with the remaining 293 square metres planned as ground-floor retail space.

139 church street toronto

A total of 472 condominium units are proposed in a breakdown of 29 studios, 301 one-bedrooms, 92 two-bedrooms, and 50 three-bedroom units.

As other proposals forego massive parking components in light of recent changes to mandatory minimums in Toronto, the project's underground garage has actually expanded in the latest plan.

Two entire levels of parking have been added for a sprawling six-level underground garage. Still, only 121 parking spaces are provided in this huge garage, along with an entire floor of bike parking lockers.

So residents of neighbouring blocks may find themselves in the shadow of a massive new tower, but at least they won't have to worry about a major influx of traffic.

Photos by

Graziani + Corazza Architects


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