Two towers. 40 storeys each. One ‘iconic’ downtown development revealed

Source: London Free Press – Norman De Bono

York Developments has unveiled plans for two huge residential towers on London’s waterfront at the forks of the Thames River as demolition starts on a former government building on the showpiece lands.

The developer envisions a $350-million development with two towers, each more than 40-storeys in height, that will be home to 800 units combined at 50 King St., York president Ali Soufan said.

“It’s exciting. It’s big-city. It’s New York-style architecture with a back-to-the river feel to it,” he said. “It’s a timeless design because it’s such an iconic location. We want it to withstand trends and be a design for future decades.”

York sent preliminary design proposals to city hall planning staff, which gave the developer feedback and the firm will have a rezoning application to the city by mid-March, Soufan said. “We want these to be iconic pillars for downtown, a landmark.”

Demolition at 50 King St., formerly home to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, began about a week ago. Soufan hopes to break ground by year-end with foundations poured in 2023.

Politicians have not seen the proposal, which has yet not gone to the city council’s planning committee for consideration. While Soufan plans each tower to be more than 40 storeys in height, the city’s Official Plan, or blueprint for development, limits towers in the core to 35 storeys.

“This is a marquee site. We’re excited to see what’s proposed,” said Coun. Stephen Turner, who sits on the council’s planning committee. “I will withhold judgment until I see the application, but 40 storeys is not consistent with the Official Plan.”

Soufan hopes bonusing provisions – a development policy that allows greater height if a development adds features such as better design, cultural space or affordable housing – will allow him to build more than 40 storeys.

Also, two other developments of that scale have been approved downtown. Old Oak Properties is building a 40-storey tower on Fullarton Street, the Centro development on the former Camden Terrace site. Farhi Holdings also has been approved for a 40-storey tower on Ridout Street at Harris Park.

“I don’t think it is an issue. There is precedence,” Soufan said. “This will offer a substantial amount of units we need now, more than ever.”

Coun. Anna Hopkins, chairperson of council’s planning committee, agreed there is ample precedent for supporting the height.

“It’s an exciting development, a great location and it’s about downtown revitalization,” Hopkins said. “We have other developments at that height. I want to know more about it, how it will fit, but if it works, I’m all for it.”

Soufan has not decided whether the units will be for sale or rent, he said.

He also envisions a third tower on site of a similar size to the other two proposed towers, about 350 units. The second phase of the development will be located near the historic Middlesex courthouse building, although there are no firm plans yet as to how that will be built.

“We’re in the preliminary stages,” he said.

The towers at 50 King are the largest development for York, but it remains busy with projects throughout the city.

Its more than 30-storey residential tower on King Street across from Covent Garden Market is under construction, as is a 17-storey tower near the Bostwick Community Centre, with plans to break ground soon on an additional tower on that site, Soufan said.

Soufan also has applied for a building permit for a tower at Wonderland and Southdale roads and is building commercial developments. York plans on adding residential subdivisions in southwest London and has acquired land in Arva, Kilworth and Komoka area for future projects.

“We are in need of more (housing) supply in the market and we want to bring on a lot of supply,” Soufan said.

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