VANDYK Group of Companies, owners of 23 Buckingham Street, at the north-east corner with Newcastle Street in Mimico, have submitted a proposal to the City of Toronto to develop a mixed-use complex of 724 residential units in towers of 12, 24, and 39-storeys, rising from a 4-storey mixed-use podium. The site is currently tenanted by its previous owners, New Toronto Studios, a two-storey industrial warehouse building, from whom VANDYK bought the property last July. SvN Architects were retained by VANDYK to prepare the Urban Design report for development with Kohn Partnership Architects and rising star Omar Gandhi Architect designing the buildings. 

Rendering of south-west view of Podium, image via submission to City of Toronto

The proposal is reduced in scope from an Official Plan Amendment proposed last December to build 24, 26, and 28-storey mixed use towers atop an eight-storey L-shaped podiums on three-quarters of the block. The City of Toronto OPA amendment last May, deeming the proposal inconsistent with the Mimico-Judson Urban Design Guidelines, stating that it represented an 'over development' of site density, massing and building heights for the area. These factors, according to the Mimico-Judson Secondary Plan, are not in keeping the development criteria of a Regeneration Area, within which the site is location. VANDYK have assumed the appeal launched by the previous owners to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), while also revising their proposal, restricting the rezoning application to re-designate the site as a Mixed-Use Area to a less than half the block.

The Mimico-Judson triangle is an area ‘active with current development application proposals’ that reflect its ongoing transition from Employment Industrial Zone designation, to a priority 'Regeneration Area'. Buckingham Street is a 'two-way, north-south local road', with Portland Street, a two-way east-west street to its north, and Newcastle Street, a two-way, east-west local street to its south. The site is serviced by ‘significant transit infrastructure' with both Mimico GO Station and the Royal York bus within walking proximity. Accordingly, the City has encouraged major reinvestment in the area through intensified properties. Development proposals of comparably high density have recently been put forward by Dunpar Homes at 39 Newcastle, southwest of the subject site, and east of the site at Grand Park Village from Freed Developments.

Map view of Mimico-Judson Triangle, image via Urban Toronto Forum

The Planning Rationale for the development makes note of the area's lacking public realm conditions, noting the scarcity of ‘public sidewalks, street trees, boulevards, and other elements that would support active transportation and pedestrian activity’. Other public realm improvements have been proposed alongside the development, by way of 'pedestrian and cycling connections between the Mimico GO Station and its surroundings', as well as better developed pedestrian routes along Buckingham Street to 'mitigate potential conflicts with vehicles'.

The developer includes proposals to improve the public realm around the site with a 870 m² 'centrally-located neighbourhood park' at its south end, exceeding the 10% of a given development site's minimum green space as required by the City of Toronto. The park could be connected to Grand Avenue Park to the east and Manchester Park to the southeast by extending the area's 'emerging network of green infrastructure into the site'. This would accord specifically with the City of Toronto Official Plan that directs new parks to 'connect with and extend existing parks and open spaces', with a view to provide 'a setting for community life'. An additional 364 m² Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Space (POPS) to the north of the public park would offer a range of high quality amenity spaces to service residents and the public accessing the site.

Top down view of proposed on and off site green space, image via submission to City of Toronto

The development proposes 724 residential condominium units across the three buildings, as well as 5,052 m² of mixed-use employment space, including 'nonresidential office, retail, and service (employment related) space'. Both towers and the mid-rise, named in the development proposals as Tower A, Tower B and Building C, are to be constructed in two phases. Phase one will develop the four-storey podium and the 39-storey Tower A, and will include 373 residential units. Both Tower B (24-storey) and Building C (12-storey) will contain the remaining 351 residential units, and are proposed to be developed in phase two of construction. Though subject to final design, of the total 724 units, 371 are to be one-bedrooms, 281 will be two-bedrooms, and 72 will be three-bedroom units.

Architectural renderings of staggered building heights, image via submission to City of Toronto

The towers and the mid-rise are to be separated by at least 25 metres, in keeping with the City of Toronto's Tall Building Guidelines. The heights of each building are staggered along a 45 degree angular plane, descending in height moving north along Buckingham Street such that 'access to light, views, and privacy', as well as limited shadow reach over the single-family homes along Portland Street (north of the site) and adjacent streets, are accommodated by the development.

Staggered building heights on 45 degree plain, image via submission to City of Toronto

The podium that connects each of the three buildings is oriented parallel to Buckingham Street and north of the proposed public park, and is set to 'appropriately define the public realm spaces' that surround the development. Street entrances to retail and employment spaces along Buckingham and Newcastle Streets, as well as street-level entranceways to the development's residential lobby, are proposed to improve the 'architectural style and rhythm' of the site. The podium will accommodate a range of retail and cafe spaces at grade, intended to 'spill out into the POPS area adjacent to the podium'. Additional patio seating, pedestrian scaled lighting, bike 'parking pods', and other landscaped elements will animate the ground realm. Additionally, amenity spaces have been proposed for the third level of the podium. These include 1,500 m² of indoor amenity space, and 1,057 m² of outdoor amenity space, located to 'provide both passive overlooks of the park and the public realm' below.

Public realm surrounding 23 Buckingham podium, image via submission to City of Toronto

Vehicle parking for 551 cars is proposed for either a 4 or 5 level underground garage, accessed from a centralized internal driveway off of Buckingham Street between Towers A and B. This would be publicly accessible from the development’s internal courtyard, from which all loading and servicing would also be accessed, while also hidden from public view. If deemed appropriate, the developer has also proposed that the internal driveway connect to a publicly accessible 'private service road' that connect with the properties east of the site along Audley Street. 565 bicycle parking spaces are proposed for both residents and non-residents in the P1 Garage level, with additional short-term visitor spaces on the ground level by the lobby entrance.

The Urban Design Report suggests that the proposal stands to achieve an appropriate density for the intensifying area, while creating a vibrant and enhanced public realm that is consistent with neighbouring developments. Designing for an integrated landscape though intensive green space in its outdoor amenity space and on all of its exposed roof space, as well as surrounding the development with the construction of the centrally located park and POPS, strives to 'support and enhance employment and residential uses in the area'.

We will return with updates, information and renderings of this proposal as they are released. For more details on the proposal and development in the area, you can visit the projects' database files, linked below. Join in on the conversation in our associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the field provided on this page.

Related Companies:  architects—Alliance, COUNTERPOINT ENGINEERING, Figure3, LEA Consulting, SvN