City mulls plans for 3 'supertall' buildings in downtown core

Buildings over 300 metres in height or 90 storeys are considered 'supertall' and right now the city has at least three buildings in that range and other towering buildings just shy of the distinction in various stages of approval.

First Canadian Place, at 72 storeys, may not be Toronto's tallest building for long

'The One' proposed at 82-storeys would have been the first to pass First Canadian Place in height but in the last couple of years the city has seen several proposals for buildings even taller than that. (Mizrahi Developments)

Right now, the sky is the limit for developers vying to build Toronto's first "supertall" building.

But, as Gregg Lintern, director of community planning for Toronto and East York insists, the city does not give the green light to everybody — far from it. 

"We're getting lots of applications for developments that exceed the height limit in the city's zoning bylaw," he said this week.

Lintern said he believes height limits are "dated" in the downtown core.

Determining a maximum height for the "subdivisions in the sky," as he calls them, is a collaboration between the city and the developer. 

"That's when we go into a process to answer that question," he said. 

Buildings more than 300 metres in height or 90 storeys are considered "supertall' and right now the city has at least three buildings in that range and other towering buildings just shy of the distinction in various stages of approval.

These buildings are all proposed:

  • The YSL building at Yonge and Gerrard Streets — 98 storeys.
  • 1 Yonge Street located on the site of the current Toronto Star building — 95 storeys.
  • Mirvish+Gehry building near King Street and John Street — 92 storeys.
  • ​The One at Yonge Street and Bloor Street — 82 storeys. 
  • A development under review at the LCBO lands on the Queens Quay — 80+ storey range.
  • A Great Eagle Holdings development at the site of the Chelsea Hotel — 46 to 80 storey range, with multiple towers proposed.
City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has two of the above buildings proposed for her ward, the YSL and The One that will sprout from the site at 1 Bloor Street West. 
If approved, the YSL building at the Yonge and Gerrard Street would be the tallest building in the skyline aside from the CN tower. (Cresford Development Corporation)

She's concerned about the shadow that the YSL could cast because of its proposed height. 

"That's a very tall building. All of a sudden from Yonge Street, it [could] cast a shadow that actually touches the green space known as Allan Gardens. That's how far the impact is."

Wong-Tam said she and her constituents are passionate about making sure developers give back space for the space they are trying to occupy.

"One of the biggest demands that we have from existing residents, before they're able to welcome a new building, is that any new application, any new proposal will contribute significantly to the amount of green space." 

The councillor, however, said the quid pro quo system they have right now isn't sustainable. 

"One of our biggest successes so far is the creation of a brand new urban park that's 1.6 acres at 11 Wellesley," she said, explaining the negotiations for a Lanterra development in her ward.

"We had to essentially approve four towers and then still come up with eight-and-a-half million dollars to assemble the cash-in-lieu park contributions," she said about the park they had to 'stitch together' with left-over pieces of land at the site.

"We celebrate our successes when we can," she said. "We got ourselves a very expensive new park." 

'Subdivisions in the sky' have to give back

Lintern said developers have to give back.

"Think of your own community," he said, describing what the city these days expects from the developers at the proposal stage.

"All of those things that you think make up a complete community are the types of things that we would discuss with a developer that is building a tall building." 

The development at 1-7 Yonge Street boasts one of the tallest 'Supertall' buildings teetering at 95-storeys. The proposal also included a school, a community centre and affordable housing. (Pinnacle International)
The development at the Toronto Star lands boasts a whopping 95-storey building, but that's not all it will be.

It's a mixed-use community currently under review by the city.

Lintern says it's an example of mega-project that accounts for its impact. 

"It's already been approved on a conceptual basis," he said. "It also includes affordable housing that will be contained in the building."

The city also secured a 50-thousand square foot community centre at the waterfront site. But for the supertall buildings proposed for the downtown core, carving out park space might not be realistic due to density.

For example, Lintern said, buildings such as the YSL could look at offering office space or institutional space for its neighbours.

"Ryerson's right next door. There are other institutions near by. Is there a way to create more space for those land uses in the area? That's the kind of conversation we're having with developers right now. "

Lintern said what is most important for all buildings is understanding what kind of overall contributions they can make to the broader community.


Ali Chiasson

Reporter, CBC Toronto

From teleprompter to Associate Producer, Ali Chiasson worked many desks at CBC News Network before stepping in front of the cameras at CBC Toronto. Ali covers a wide range of breaking and feature stories and has a special knack for people profiles. Off the clock, Ali is happiest walking through Bloordale with headphones on, picking through local produce markets, sipping bubble tea and snapping pics of street art.