You all recall the big brou-ha-ha when Ashcroft bought the site of Our Lady of the Condos on Richmond Road, just west of Island Park. They already owned the sites on the north side of the street, with several 6+ storey buildings underway or in planning. The agreed with the City to increase the height of the just-completed one on the north side (111 Richmond), and the south side ones are notably higher, as shown in the picture above.
The top floors of these buildings are set back a bit, so the top floors are less noticeable when the viewer is on the sidewalk on the same side of the street. The opposite side-of-the-street top floors are far from invisible.
The buildings were pushed back several feet from the sidewalk/lot line, to create a wider pedestrian experience. But the result to date is bleak. The ‘stepping back’ of the buildings at mid block, the recessed top floors, the varied brick textures and colours (dull, duller, and dismal) don’t succeed in making a thrilling space. Despite variations, they are all designed by the same architect from the same base plan, and it shows. The few trees planted in front of the existing condo don’t look promising:
I do hope there is a large underground area of great topsoil under those pavers so the tree roots and spread and feed and the trees above will grow big and wonderful, with foliage and shade.
Of course, the appearance will be better once the buildings are fully finished, the lights are on, and the two cut-outs or passageways into the Convent grounds are opened up. Active storefronts will help too (please, no giant window appliqués of happy people).
Nonetheless, the “canyon” epithet is not intended as a compliment to fine urban planning. I do wonder if the City planners are looking at this project with satisfaction, or with a “lessons learned” attitude? And if there are lessons, when will they be applied to further projects?
As a perceptive reader, you must have guessed by now that a very similar configuration of buildings is about to be revealed. Coming up next … yet another west side mainstreet intensification plan.