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18-Year, Multi-Tower Planning Saga Continues in Scarborough


Fenced off by a low-slung wire perimeter, the southwest corner of Brimley Road and Progress Avenue has remained an inconspicuous corner of Toronto in the last decades. Even as the Scarborough Civic Centre has become a more prominent destination—enlivened by the opening of a showpiece new library in 2015—and parts of the surrounding area began to take on a high-rise context, the 4.43 acre (17,940 m²) site continued to sit empty while the neighbourhood around it gradually transformed.

The approximate site, with the Scarborough Civic Centre seen at right, image via Google Maps

Located one block west of the Civic Centre, shopping mall, and Scarborough Centre RT station, the future of the vacant lot has continuously evolved over the last decade as the site itself sat untouched. Following a 1999 submission to the City, a 762-unit redevelopment of the site was approved by the OMB in 2001. Featuring four towers (at heights of 16 and 25 storeys) and rows of three-storey townhouses, the project was poised to contribute significant density to the area, 

Then in 2006, a renewed development concept was submitted to the City of Toronto by Atria Developments, bringing to light an intensified four-tower plan for the site. With tower heights now ranging from 31 to 36 storeys, and a unit count of 1,232, the expanded, Turner Fleischer-designed project, replaced the rows of townhouses with roadways and landscaping. Featuring live-work units at grade, paired towers on the east end west sides of the site would each rise from elongated shared podium structures. 

Site plan for Atria's 2006 proposal, image via submission to the City of Toronto

After moving partway through the planning process in 2007 and 2008, the project stalled again. It wasn't until 2014 that plans for the site re-emerged. This time, an evolving design concept by A & Architects—who are listed at the same address as Atria Developments—culminated in a late 2015 rezoning and Site Plan submission to the City of Toronto. Enlarged yet again, the project now known as 'Brimley & Progress' featured a total of 1,591 residential units, more than doubling the density approved at the OMB fourteen years earlier. With tower heights upped to 45, 41, 39, and 35 storeys, the project was appealed to the OMB once again.  

Project concept circa 2015, image via Atria Developments

By 2016, another change was in the works. In the wake of Atria's renewed negotiations with the City, the OMB appeal was withdrawn, and new rezoning and Official Plan Amendment (OPA) documents were submitted. Although the project has evolved again, the latest re-submission comes as a response to the City's review of the December 2015 proposal (above).

Now offering refinement in lieu of further re-invention, the latest submission maintains the project's count of 1,591 residential units. Additionally, a small childcare centre planned for the site's podium elements has been slightly expanded to 847 m², while the width of the vehicle ingress has been reduced to allow for greater on-site landscaping. Appointed by Ferris + Associates, the expanded landscaping program is also made possible by a slightly lighter ground plane, with greater permeability through the site facilitated via a reduction in podium massing. 

The latest design, image via A& Architects

Meanwhile, the four high-rises have been reconfigured to fall closer in line with the City's of Toronto's Tall Building Guidelines, which set out a standard point tower floorplate of about 750 m². The somewhat bulky forms have been slimmed down somewhat, with the four tower floorplates—which ranged up to 795 m²—all reduced to under 780 m².

Looking southwest, the lower levels, image via A& Architects

However, the floor space lost to creating more slender has been replaced vertically, with the buildings now set to rise to 47, 41, 39, and 36 storeys. In addition, 2,839 m² of retail space is planned throughout the podium structures. A total of 1,208 vehicle parking spaces are also planned, as well as 1,193 bicycle spots. 

The Brimley Road frontage, image via A& Architects

The revised project also features a slightly greater concentration of three-bedroom units, with the number upped from approximately 3% to 4.7%. Meanwhile, a new planning report prepared by WND Associates also states that a number of the project's two-bedroom units are designed to facilitate conversion into three-bedroom suites by end users. 

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