First Capital Submits Urban Vision for 28 Acre Christie’s Plant Site
If there was any question whether First Capital Realty were serious about building something substantial and out-of-the-ordinary when they bought the 11 ha/28 acre former Christie’s Cookies plant site at Park Lawn and Lake Shore in the Toronto borough of Etobicoke, any doubts would have been erased for observers of the world’s city-building scene when the company hired Allies and Morrison of London to lead the master planning with Toronto’s renowned Urban Strategies Inc.. Architects and Urban Planners, Allies and Morrison are best known internationally for their major transformation of the area around King’s Cross station in London, a derelict 24 ha/60 acre site where regeneration started in 2007, has since been embraced by Londoners, and continues to grow today. Now, First Capital have submitted their concept proposal to the City of Toronto for the Christie’s site, fashioned to create a mixed-use neighbourhood that could rank as a major destination within the GTA.
First Capital bought the site in 2016 (with a more recent purchase of the former Bank of Montreal location at 2194 Lake Shore) and has brought in the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board as a 50% partner. Beyond Allies and Morrison and Urban Strategies Inc., their design team includes Adamson Associates Architects as Architect of Record, ERA Architects covering heritage aspects, landscape architecture by DTAH of Toronto and Gross Max of Edinburgh, engineering by Arup, transportation planners Hatch and BA Group, and more. Over the last three years, the proponents held two well-subscribed public meetings asking attendees for their input on what they’d like to see on the site, and much of what is proposed in the ground realm at least is based on some of the wish list.
Looking south across the Christie’s site and Humber Bay Shores to Lake Ontario, image courtesy First Capital
The scale of what has been proposed will take many off guard, with 15 towers proposed higher than 20 storeys tall, the tallest topping out at 71 storeys, or similar in height to the taller of the two Eau du Soleil towers now being completed nearby. Conversely the depth of the neighbourhood amenities and services, and the degree of animation of the neighbourhood, will appeal to many living in the area now who are looking for a more complete, more cohesive area of the city to live in.
The height in storeys of the tallest buildings proposed at 2150 Lake Shore, image via submission to the City of Toronto
Across the Christie’s site, the plan calls for 41,900 m² of commercial office space, approximately 42,700 m² of retail, entertainment, restaurants, and community-oriented shops, and a 20,200 m² hotel with affiliated commercial space. A total of 7,446 residential units are proposed.
Looking down into the heart of the site, image courtesy of First Capital Realty
Three public squares, a park, a central sheltered galleria lined with shops and restaurants, several pocket-sized places to gather, and pedestrian mews are proposed to be strung throughout the site. Bicycle lanes would be introduced, while new roads would handle increased car traffic to the area, including one “Relief” road extending from Park Lawn and the Gardiner eastbound off ramp around most of the site to Lake Shore Boulevard, taking some volume of traffic off the Park Lawn and Lake Shore intersection. On-street traffic through the site would be unnecessary for most residents, and parking garage entrances are planned for the periphery of the site from Park Lawn Road and the “Relief” road, with the garages connected below ground. The proponents also suggest rebuilding of the Gardiner access ramps to and from the east of the site to feed into the new “Relief” road, while Lake Shore would get four new traffic lights along it, slowing it to an urban speed in an area that cars tend to speed through now.