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Sky bridges and highline parks: Toronto’s downtown is about to be dramatically transformed

Tim Gibson

11 April 2021

A PROPOSED master-plan for the development of unused space above rail corridor lands would see downtown Toronto undergo a dramatic transformation.

Last week, CRAFT Development Group, Kingsmen Group Inc., and Fengate Asset Management announced updated plans for a 6.5 hectare site in the heart of Canada’s largest city.

The proposed master plan, named the ORCA Project, would see the construction of 3,500 residential units, an elevated rail park, the inclusion of affordable housing, open green space, retail, and entertainment venues.

The project’s size and ambition would also set a precedent for these types of developments in Canada.

Above : The development would see a significant transformation of downtown Toronto. Images courtesy of CRAFT Development Corporation.

CRAFT first acquired the air rights for the site in 2013 from Canada National Railway and submitted a proposal in 2017 which was denied in January 2018.

However, the proposal is currently going through an appeal process with updated plans which now include six residential towers, a 36-story office building, and 4,505 square metres of retail space.

“We are extremely proud of this union between Craft/Kingsmen and Fengate,” said President of CRAFT Development Corp Carmine Nigro in a press release.

“This historic opportunity for the revitalisation of a former rail corridor will create thousands of job opportunities as well as homes for a new generation of homeowners,”

Above: The site would include new public amenities. Images courtesy of CRAFT Development Corporation.

To help the proposal a number of state-of-the-art sustainable technologies have been incorporated into the design.

Potential technologies ranging from pneumatic garbage collection to CHP, solar PV cogeneration plants to parking analytics software to even District Heating and Cooling.

Energy efficiency has also been made a key-component.

Toronto is currently in the middle of a construction boom. There are 30 buildings under construction that are over 150-metres high while a further 50 have been proposed.

At this rate, Toronto is on track to replace Chicago as the second city with the most skyscrapers in North America - behind New York.

Other high profile projects include Frank Gehry’s pair of skyscrapers - the tallest of which will reach supertall status - as well the 312-metre SkyTower and the 308-metre Foster + Partners-designed The One.


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