Lifetime Development Group, owners of the Liberty Market Building have the rights to 3x density over their entire project. The latest word is that they are applying to aggregate the density they have over the entire Liberty Market Building and combine it to build a tower directly beside the east side of the Market Building, east of the Brazen Head Irish Pub.
The proposed tower would be located immediately to the west of the three-tower King West Condominiums (65, 75 and 85 East Liberty St) by Plazacorp, currently under construction, and to the south of Liberty Place, also currently under construction. The proposal in question would require that buildings housing KingWest Fitness and Casalife furniture store be demolished to accommodate the new project.
The proposed project would be a combination of retail at grade (23,000 square feet), a six-storey podium section comprised of office space (133,000 square feet), 214 commercial parking spaces and 120 residential parking spaces. (All figures are approximate.) There would be 25 levels of live-work residential condos above the podium (291 units in total) stretching to 32 storeys in total. This is a similar height as Liberty Central across the street and the Plazacorp Tower was recently granted.
One feature of the building would be that it would triangular, so that when you approach it looking down E. Liberty St it would appear less massive from that direction.
This development proposal will doubtless provoke some strong debate. There are already concerns about how dense the neighbourhood is currently becoming with several towers under construction in the nearby vicinity. Also, there is some anger about tearing down the old warehouse and factory-style buildings in Liberty Village that help to provide charm and character to the neighbourhood. The old buildings are one of the reasons people are attracted to live and work in the area. Preservation of the architectural wealth of original character buildings is a major item on the agenda of the BIAs Master Plan currently underway.
From the developer’s perspective, the potential positive neighbourhood aspects to this development include:
- Six storeys of office workers
- Live/work residential condo suites
- Retail at grade
These three elements address issues that have been recently neglected by the newer condo developments in the neighbourhood:
- One of the objectives of the BIA and the residents association is to promote an intermixing of the functions of the employment section and the residential section of Liberty Village. Adding six storeys of office space to the residential side of the Liberty Village would be a step forward to achieving this objective.
- An increasing proportion of the people in our society want to have the option to work flexibly from their home office. The live/work zoning of the proposed tower would allow this for this scenario.
- Many of the buildings heading west along E. Liberty Street (the King West Condominiums, Liberty Tower and Bliss) do not have retail at grade. Without retail at grade residents are forced to walk to the village centre for all their amenities. Providing a good mix of retail amenities would help to increase the urban feel of the area and is a model of what good residential tower development should be.
In addition, the developer has suggested that a direct benefit from this project to the overall Liberty Village neighbourhood would be the provision of 2,000 square feet that would be set aside as a space in the project by the developer for community use. What will this community space look like and what could it be used for? This is an aspect worth considering.
The other benefit for the neighbourhood would be an additional $1 million in Section 37 funds earmarked for future projects in the neighbourhood, such as a much-requested potential pedestrian bridge.
There are many questions that arise as a result of this proposal. Is this plan worthwhile? Is it not worthwhile? Is the proposed six-storeys of office space needed or desired in Liberty Village? Isn’t there already enough existing office space in the western section of the neighbourhood? Also, isn’t it ridiculous to take a wrecking ball to yet more of the older character buildings in Liberty Village? Liberty Village used to be full of many other industrial-style buildings that were torn down. If those other buildings had been preserved, imagine the wonderful historical character Liberty Village would now have. Does the tearing down of old building represent a type of suburbanization of the area where old must make way for the new? The demolition would also result in the potential loss of some cultural heritage for the area as that those buildings host the Model Railroad Club of Toronto which has been in Liberty Village since 1946.
What is the feeling about this proposal? There are three ways of responding to this project: 1. To try and stop it. 2. To try and change it, or 3. To say that we like it as is.
The developer will soon be putting up the large white application for re-zoning signs at the site in the next while and will be providing more details to the community.