A planning application for a massive 40-storey mixed-use development has been submitted to the City of Toronto for a large portion of a mid-block area on King Street. Stretching from 234 to 250 King East and around the intersection to include 162 Princess Street, the Emblem Development Inc. project would replace Betty’s bar, a local favourite.
King East is known for distinct mid-rise brick architecture but has become increasingly laden with high-rise developments over the last 15 years. But the only other nearby building higher than this project is an approved 49-storey building at 31 Parliament Street.
Emblem’s venture is one of several large-scale condominiums in various stages of approval in the King East area. In keeping with the district’s rich architectural heritage, several promise partial retentions of street-level buildings, as does this proposal. The base would be six or seven storeys of mixed commercial use incorporating the facades of current buildings, with 488 dwelling units above.
Project still in early stages, but issues around height and massing are concerns
Planning documents published by consulting firm Bousfields Inc. claim the project is consistent with several growth plans for the downtown core that encourage expansion of underutilized areas, particularly those surrounded by municipal infrastructure and transit. The existing mid-block buildings still contain businesses, but the vacant property and lane space around them are attractive to downtown real estate developers.
How much does it cost developers to buy these properties? The 244 King East property is an L-shaped lot that stretches behind 246-250 out to Princess Street. It contains several parking spaces at the back, a one-storey building and another one-storey brick structure facing the street. According to the Ontario Land Registry, this lot alone was bought on September 20, 2020 for $14.5 million. And it’s only one of ten lots Emblem Developments has purchased.
The project is still in early stages. Suzanne Kavanagh of the St. Lawrence Neighborhood Association’s development committee says the proposal simply marks the beginning of a conversation. After receiving concerns around height and massing during a presentation to the SLNA, the developer is to present a preliminary report to the Toronto and East York Community Council in April.