[Breaking News] Streetcar Plans Largest Development in Riverside History.

Streetcar’s Riverside Square to change the face of Riverside forever.

Update August 7th 5:37pm:

We’ve been all over this story since we broke the news early yesterday and have some serious updates for you. I’m sure you will all be glad to hear that there will NOT be three 24 storey towers after all! Here are the updated details as of today:

There will be three buildings in total: 7 Storey fronting on Queen Street on the North Side of the Lot and two buildings on the South side of the lot at 13 storeys and 24 storeys at the south west corner. They’re still on target for 555 residential units and have added specifically 16,519 square metres of commercial/retail (aka non residential) with a total of 274 parking spaces. 

We’ll continue to update you on the story as it develops.

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First they snag the New Broadview Hotel aka Jilly’s and now Streetcar Developments buys the Toyota Dealership site and Tippet Richardson moving company site giving them 4 acres of prime Riverside land to play with. Here’s what they want to do. They’re calling it Riverside Square.

Based on the development proposal submitted to the city earlier this month. Streercars Riverside Square is all about mixed use. They want to build three 24 Story towers with approximately 555 residential units, thousands of square feet of retail and commercial space. We’ve heard rumors of Whole Foods being the anchor grocery tenant here (would would be a great fit actually)

Here’s what Aaron Knight, the Development Manager for Streetcar had to say in a recent letter to Broadview/Queen area residents:

Dear Resident of The Ninety,

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves as your new neighbours; both as owner of the New Broadview Hotel and as the new owners of the lands located at 77-79 East Don Roadway (Tippet Richardson site) and 677 Queen East (Toyota site).

As you may know, we have plans to undertake an extensive restoration of the New Broadview Hotel. We intend on making the Hotel a centerpiece of the community once again. Equally as important is our acquisition of the Toyota and Tippet Richardson sites. The two sites represent over 4 acres of land area and are bound by Queen Street East, East Don Roadway and Eastern Avenue. Together they will be known as Riverside Square.

Given the scale and location of Riverside Square we see great opportunity to make much needed bike and pedestrian connections across the Don River to Corktown Common, provide new green space and perhaps most importantly: reintegrate the site into the traditional mixed-use character of the Queen East while providing valuable new services and publicly accessible amenities to the community.

Recently, a rezoning application for each site has been made, and over the coming weeks you can expect to see our Riverside Square project branding appearing in the area.

As we remain in the early stages of design, we would like to share our proposal with you to hear your feedback and ideas, and engage you in an open dialogue about the future of your neighbourhood. As such, we will be reaching out to your Board of Directors with the goal of arranging consultation sessions for early fall of this year.

Until then, feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

Best Regards,

Aaron Knight, MCIP RPP
Development Manager

Well there you have it. In true Streetcar form they’re reaching out to the community and engaging residents. They know full and well they will be a lot of of push back since this the THE largest development the East Side has ever seen.  A lot of people are going to complain about the lack of parking (they’re only building 178 spaces for 555 units). But the fact that they’re building 61 retail parking spaces means they really are focusing on building the infrastructure to support this many new residents.

Don’t know exactly how we feel about this yet as the info is so fresh but we’ll certainly develop an opinion and share will you all. What do you think? Comment below or on our FB Page or Twitter. Hope to hear from you!

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33 thoughts on “[Breaking News] Streetcar Plans Largest Development in Riverside History.

  1. Amy Powell says:

    Very exciting news! There are currently quite a few “For Lease” signs in a lot of empty spaces along Queen Street East between Degrassi and Broadview. Hopefully this will help breathe new life into a great neighbourhood and help support great independent businesses like Empire, Pulp Kitchen, Little Peeps and Mac Fab!

  2. Amy Rynsoever says:

    This is great news for Riverside, being next to Leslieville which is being built up into a fabulous neighbourhood its nice to see that we to the west are going get to benefit from the same thing. Riverside is a great area but is in need of some growth and a bit more aesthetic appeal.

  3. Elena says:

    Whatever you do, Streetcar, please don’t build a Liberty Village East. That place is so congested and ugly; please learn from their mistakes.
    Your Neighbour :)

    1. John McTaggart says:

      The proposed density is nuts!

      I was wondering what kind of shenanigans Streetcar Developments would pull after the Jillys PR stunt.

      There is no access to Eastern at that level which means that the already congested Queen Street East would absorb all that traffic. This is not the downtown core (there are no 24 storey towers on Queen East east of the Don). Hopefully the community mobilizes to bring something more reasonable in scale.

      1. Ara says:

        you’re right Queen would be insane if access was from there. I think the only way it works is if they create an access from Eastern (which I’ve heard talk about). Don’t think this will get approved without it.

  4. Paul Landolt says:

    They’ve already built a great-looking lowrise (6 storey ?) condo on the NW corner; I’d love to see their plans for the rest of it.

    I would LOVE to see a building design that preserves and incorporates the building shell or facades of the existing properties of 639-643 and 651-653 Queen East. I love the marriage of old and new architecture. However, they might not have the “historical significance” to save their skins (pun intended)

    1. Ara says:

      Hey there Paul! I mis-drew the image initially. Their proposal doesn’t include the buildings along Queen. Just the Toyota lot and the tippet richardson site. If you look up on the blog post I’ve created a new image. Glad to see that those will still be there. Lots of cool little business in there will benefit from the increased density.

  5. Sonia says:

    Not sure that high rise condos really fit with the area…
    My other concern is parking (178 spots for 555 units). If this project attracts many more residents and retailers, the already limited street parking will become hard to find, especially for those who rely on street parking permits and live in the neighbourhood.

    1. Ara says:

      I think being this close to downtown the expectation for 1-1 parking is unreasonable. The lack of parking is a good thing in my opinion to attract more transit/foot/bicycle commuters. The parking argument is quickly losing steam in this day and age.

  6. Jesse Edwards says:

    I at queen & carlaw and can tell you since the condo went in at the end of my street, street parking is way worse. The new building by my place is only 7 stories, so can’t imagine how 3 25 story buildings will affect the area. I’m sure the retailers will love it, though.

  7. john hryniuk says:

    Three 25 story buildings on that lot? sorry that won’t happen.. not if I can help it.

    1. Ara says:

      It’s over 4 acres! They’ve build more on less. I do agree that they will not likely get the 24 they’re asking for but they will get close. It’s an ideal lot for this type of density…away from single family homes.

  8. Beaux says:

    The comment here are interesting in that the key issues discussed are Parking, Traffic and vague notions of “growth and more aesthetic appeal”???
    This is a low income neighbourhood and that needs to be reflected in any development plan. The last thing we need is another Cupcake shop

    1. Ara says:

      Riverside has a ton of diversity including a lot of low income housing (a lot of which TCHC has sold off though). I’d be very surprised if Streetcar didn’t have a plan to include some affordable housing like RiverCity has done in Corktown. We’ll see how the story develops over the coming months.

      I’d say we have enough bakeries, coffee shops etc… What this development will being is larger retail like grocery for example that is much needed in the immediate area as an alternative to Loblaws and No Frills further east.

  9. Larry Webb says:

    Transit is a bit backwards in this City – they usually say that when the demand is there, we will build it. It should be “transit first”. So since the people first approach is currently in place, what we need to get better transit is people, and here they are.

    As someone else said, the parking issue is old thinking – we all need to change our attitudes and priorities.

    What this will do to boost the area is great.

    What it needs is a strong public realm presence – green space, sidewalk activity, laneways and of course enhanced retail as well as space for the community to use.

    I think the height is pretty much irrelevant – once you go over 8 or 10 floors, 24 floors will not be relevant at the street. And there will be 25 stories over the river at River City 3 (a little bit south of this project, south of Eastern).

    Going to be interesting to see how this pans out.

    1. Ara says:

      I think Streetcar is going to look at RiverCity in Corktown as a prime example of how to integrate spaces for people to interact (corktown commons). I think that will be the key to the success of this site.

      Will keep this post updated with the latest announcements.

  10. Anthony says:

    Seems far too dense for the area. 24 story towers? Yikes what happened to 8 story max and 18 meter max in the commercial space. I like the north side of queen better. Higher at Queen, maybe 7 or 8 stories with stacked towns in the back. Green space, bridge to corktown and whole foods sounds good.
    I just hope they aren’t saying 24 stories trying for a concession at 15. Anything more than 8 is overkill. The traffic, parking and density is already close enough to too busy. Don’t kill a nice area for profit please.

    1. Ara says:

      If this development was on a dense stretch of Queen Street I’d be in complete agreement with you but this site is unique. It’s bordered by NON-residential Eastern Ave, NON Residential Don Roadway, and NON Residential Queen St. It’s set back with only a bit of frontage between the sushi place and the existing buildings west of the dealership. It will tuck back and tower closer to the highway and eastern. It’s not the same as on Prime Queen St. I think I’d like to learn more before I make any judgement. There will be lots of improvements, green-space, paths etc…

    2. RLUX says:

      They won’t kill it for profit, they’ll have to kill it to break even. The land is so expensive that 8 storey buildings won’t pay for their bills. If you want to make money from development in a property market like downtown Toronto’s, you have to reach to the sky.

      I wonder what the development just south of there will be like. I heard they want to build gigantic office towers and contemplate a new GO Train stop on their site, thank you very much.

  11. Mary says:

    My opinion is that “density” is not being respected in the City of Toronto. Period. This proposal is no exception. It’s one thing to create a development which incorporates diverse and improved land use. But it’s just not right to propose towers higher than the zoning. Zoning based on surveys of the land and environment for specific reasons. The infrastructure for this many people using the transit isn’t there. Unless Streetcar Developments would like to buy the ttc too and build a better transit system for that development proposal. Perhaps land developers should be required to contribute an equal portion of $ to infrastructure that supports a proposed increase in population, (while still adhering to zoning). Density is an important liveable consideration being overlooked in this city. I hope my feedback helps. It would be great to see a developer who would set a good example. (there are too many precedents being set, in recent years, of building which is allowed or over ruled (by OMB), for other developers to use in their plight to also do the same thing. When will this stop? Overdevelopment of high rises needs to be reigned in. Another big grocery store (regardless of it being a Whole Foods), should not be such a big draw either. I hope these ideas stir up some “healthy” debate about a wholistic approach to developing a liveable new neighborhood, (and city).

  12. Brendan says:

    This could be a great chance to relook at street plantings, incorporating an edible landscape into those 4 acres could feed alot of people if designed properly. Looking at storm water run off and using that to keep a food forest healthy is an idea worth looking at. Look up permaculture food forests if you want more info on that subject. Alongside an education program for kids to teach them about where their food comes from and what the plant and trees actually look like. Look at it as some food for thought.

    1. Ara says:

      Now that’s the kind of development the community would support! Would love it if developers started thinking this way. We’ll send your comments to the developer.

  13. Rachel says:

    Ara — when/where will be able to provide feedback? This bears watching closely. I am terrifed this is going to be the start of turning the East into the mess that is the West end.

    1. Ara says:

      Hey Rachel – I’ll update this post when they announce the community meeting. Stay tuned.

  14. Andrew says:

    My property value is going UP UP UP!!!! Keep it coming!

  15. Blaine McKenzie says:

    I am a local resident of this neighbourhood. Please remember this is the site of Toronto’s first baseball park, built in 1886, and it would be correct to include this history in some part. http://www.torontohistory.org/Pages/Torontos_First_Professional_Baseball_Stadium.html

    1. Ara says:

      Blaine…you’re 100% right! It would be great to honour the site’s history with something meaningful. What would you suggest?

  16. Ara says:

    Looks like we have an update folks! Check the top of the blog for new density numbers. I think some of you will be very pleased!

  17. Jeff Berg says:

    High density is the only possible future for the city of Toronto. The smaller the space each of us inhabits the less energy we consume. The closer we are to work, the less energy we consume. The less green house gasses we create.

    Sure it would be better from an environmental perspective if we instead reduced the population of Canada to under 10 million and the population of the world to under 2 billion. But that is at best a long term goal. In the interim the population of Toronto and Canada will likely double before this century’s end. If this is unavoidable then the best we can do to reduce our ecological footprint is greatly increase the density of our cities.

  18. S. Zimmerman says:

    Just wondering who Ara is? Is it an acronym for Aaron Knight, by any chance?

    1. Ara says:

      Um….if you simply check the about us section of this site you’ll clearly see who I am. Always looking for a conspiracy eh?

  19. bill says:

    A few points:

    This proposal is entirely driven by developer profit and will offer nothing to existing residents other than increased traffic, noise and shadows.

    I agree with the comment that Streetcar’s purchase of Jilly’s was a PR stunt intended to soften the blowback they knew was coming with this massive proposal. Very clever.

    Increased density does not improve retail. St. Jamestown, Main and Danforth, Jane and Finch, for examples, all have high density and poor retail. Lower density (six storey, max) quality development is best for retail (see Beaches, Prime Danforth, Cabbagetown).

    Why should if fall to Leslieville/Riverside to save the cornfields of Brampton and Whitby from the coming masses? People here live in 15-foot wide, semi-detached houses. They are hardly the gluttonous rich. If downtown neighbourhoods must surrender to the logic of increased population density, let Rosedale, Forest Hill and Cabbagetown go first, since they’re closer. Oh yeah, they won’t because they are far wealthier and well connected. So poor Leslieville/Riverside has to take it up the tailpipe.

    Leslieville/Riverside is an established residential neighbourhood with houses, schools and parks. It is not Liberty Village or the Entertainment District.

    If this development is allowed to proceed as planned, ‘downtown’ will have officially jumped the Don Valley. I fear it will mark the beginning of the end for the quaint, low-rise neighbourhood that we, who actually live and raise families here, have come to love.

    1. Ara says:

      Thanks for reading and for the comment, Bill. I do disagree with a few of your points though.

      You say will offer nothing to existing residents. I’d say that offering existing residents convenient walking access with the underpass to corktown and distillery area is quite a bonus. Adding a common community space within the square for residents to enjoy is a bonus, and so is a more diverse retail experience for existing residents.

      You can’t compare Queen and Broadview to St. Jamestown, Main and Danforth, and Jane and Finch. I think you’d agree that although mixed, the average disposable income of a typical Riverside/Leslieville resident would allow for an improved retail experience from the business owners perspective. Just because the increased density MAY be allowed at this site doesn’t mean it will translate into higher density for the rest of Queen St. This is a unique lot that has very little residential. The rest of queen street would still fall under the strict 6 story guidelines set out by the planning study. This does not set a precedent for the rest of queen and I don’t believe we’d by in danger of becoming a “liberty village” or “cityplace” as some have suggested.

      The reason why those affluent areas won’t be the target for this type of development is because land is obscenely expensive and development doesn’t even make sense there…if you can find the land that is.

      I agree that the Jilly’s site is a nice touch to allow more leniency when proposing this development but it’s quite an expensive PR move. They’ll be spending millions fixing up the building and then establishing a business there. Might be a PR move but a move with community focus and I’ll take that over media BS any day.

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