Design panel proposes building planned apartments higher

The city's design panel advises going higher rather than wider and incorporating surrounding design during a pre-consultation for prospective apartment buildings.

Thursday evening, a 10-storey apartment at 210 Main St. E. — proposed by Ekasa Hospitality Inc. — and a 23-storey apartment at 15 Queen St. S. — proposed by Coletara Development — were presented to the panel.

The Design Review Panel, consisting of nine members with expertise in architecture, planning, urban design and landscape architecture, plays an advisory role for both prospective builders and city hall.

Within the context of city policy, panellists give recommendations to developers on potential physical and esthetic impacts and pathways for improvement of design.

The panel also forwards their recommendations on proposed projects to Planning and Economic Development staff.

"What the city decides to do after our recommendation is in their court," said panel chair Vincent Colizza. "This committee is going to judge these submissions by the policies that are in play, so it's more than just filling the property and maximizing the density."

210 Main Street East

• Height: 10 storeys, 176 units, 56 parking spaces

• Design: U-Shape, retail front, parking rear

• Location: Days Inn at the Corner of Main Street East and Spring Street.

Panellist Robert Freedman praised the developers for presenting a "very urban building," which the city is trying to encourage. He noted that opting for rental units rather than condos was reflective of market trends.

Though the building, dubbed "The Scholar Luxury Residence" during the presentation, is targeted at students, anyone will be able to rent a unit in it, said developer Azim Kassam.

The panellists agreed the building could be improved from a design standpoint, especially through the incorporation of design elements that would spill over from the designated heritage building next door.

"There are some improvements that need to be done to be more sympathetic to the neighbourhood," said Colizza, who also recommended the developer consider building a few storeys higher, thereby eliminating the building's west wing.

That would eliminate proximity to the heritage building and the "looming mass overlooking their rear yards" for the neighbourhood behind the building, he said.

15 Queen Street South

• 23-storeys, 186 units, 252 parking spaces

• Design: Five-storey podium, commercial front, parking inside

• Location: All Saints Church, corner of Queen and King

Though the building would find itself in a heritage character area for buildings three to six storeys high, panellists believed the building could adapt, so long as the predominantly glass-façade of the podium could be tweaked to incorporate designs from surrounding buildings.

"The podium is your opportunity to say this building is going to respond to the surrounding area," which has a nice mix of brick and stone, said panellist James Webb. He also recommended lowering the height of the podium by eliminating parking spaces.

The new church space, which would be incorporated into a portion of the building, could also be given more sidewalk space for churchgoers, said Colizza.

He again noted the design could be improved by increasing the height of the tower, in order to thin out the building's visual impact and allow the higher floors to be set further back from the west side of the podium.

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