A plan to plunk a shiny new 80-storey condo tower on the southeast corner of what local Councillor Kyle Rae calls the ugliest intersection in the city is generating more tall-tower phobia.
Not that this fazes its main backer, Kazakhstan-based developer Bazis International, whose rep is talking instant icon.
"Toronto is more than ready for something so bold, so striking -- an internationally recognizable symbol of this city, reflecting its vitality and its growing global importance," says the company's acquisitions director, Michael Gold .
But could it be too tall even for Yonge and Bloor? The towers across the street, the 35-storey Hudson Bay and the 34-storey CIBC offices, barely cast a shadow by comparison. The next-highest tower in the neighbourhood, the ManuLife Centre is, at 51 storeys, just over half the height of the proposed building.
"Height is not necessarily bad," says University of Toronto urban planning professor David Lieberman
, "but it's imperative that what occurs within the first six storeys has a strong relationship to the public space of the city and the intersection."
Early drawings show three levels of high-end retail in a projecting podium topped by a 120-room five-star boutique hotel and 500 luxury condos.
U of T architecture prof Larry Richards says that if the city is supporting an 80-storey tower in the centre of T.O., "then it had better make sure that it's outstanding in terms of design, not just another B-grade building."
Rae, who backed an earlier developer's proposal for a 60-storey tower on the site, is desperate for any kind of facelift for the area. He says Bazis has agreed to sink $2 million into the Bloor Street Transformation Project , "a benefit to both the local residential and business communities."
Let's just hope it's not the catalyst for another billboard bonanza. Architectural drawings actually include these electronic eyesores.