City calls 30-storey tower ‘inappropriate’, while Main and Danforth developer touts proximity to transit

A rendering of the proposed 30-storey tower at Main and Danforth. PHOTO: Submitted

A report from Toronto planning staff has called a proposal for a 30-storey condo tower near Main and Danforth “inappropriate” for the neighbourhood and recommended planners conduct a full study of the area before deciding whether to approve the application.

But Tribute Communities, the developer that is pitching a high-rise for the 286-292 Main Street site disagreed and “strongly” opposed one of the report’s recommendations.

“We don’t strongly oppose the notion of additional study taking place. What we strongly oppose is our application not being completed until the end of that report,” said Steve Deveaux, vice president of land development for Tribute, which is partnering with Greybrook Realty Partners on the project.

“We believe our application should be judged based on the merits of the existing policies and guidelines in place today,” he added.

A preliminary staff report, dated Sept. 29 and presented to Toronto and East York Community Council on Oct. 17, listed the 286-292 Main proposal’s height and density—and how it transitions from nearby low-rise development—as issues.

The recommended study needs council support to move forward, and an item is scheduled to be heard by councillors on Nov. 7.

Daniel Woolfson, a senior planner for the Toronto and East York District, said he would “let the report speak for itself.”

He added that the city has identified the area around the intersection of Main and Danforth for growth but that it was a matter of scale.

“What we really want to make sure we get right is whether the form itself is appropriate or if there’s a more appropriate form in terms of reduced height and density that would allow us to intensify with a more appropriate scale,” said Woolfson.

Planners are already studying Danforth Avenue from Coxwell to Victoria Park to set guidelines for future development.

However, that study only includes properties that are fronting Danforth.

The 286-294 Main lots, though in the direct vicinity of the Danforth Avenue Planning Study area, does not front Danforth.

The Danforth Avenue Planning Study would guide to some extent how staff evaluate developments in the surrounding area, whereas the area study, if approved, would include how to improve the public realm and mobility around a transit hub.

The area’s proximity to public transit is one of the reasons Tribute’s Deveaux suggested the 301-unit proposal was a good fit.

“You have a GO Train immediately across the street, a subway immediately across the street, a streetcar immediately across the street, and several bus lines,” he said.

He noted provincial and municipal policies encourage development near transit lines.

Deveaux also observed that in the area there was “quite a mix of built forms… including high rise.”

The three-tower Main Square apartment complex is directly across the street to the east of the proposal site, and its tallest building reaches a height of 29 storeys.

However, the proposed ground floor area of Tribute’s development is 12-and-a-half times the size of the site. The Main Square site is zoned for density of 4.5 times the lot’s area.

Asked if the result of the study would be broader guidelines or specifics, Woolfson said, “I think we’re erring on the side of specificity.”

Should council greenlight the study, the goal is to wrap it up by the third quarter of 2018, Woolfson said, noting staff would continue reviewing the 286 Main proposal at the same time.

Woolfson said the city hopes to complete the Danforth Area Planning Study late in the first quarter of next year or early in the second quarter.

The city is planning to hold its next Danforth Area Planning Study meeting in the second week of December.

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