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Public meeting on new TTC headquarters

by Tim Foran

A proposed development for an office building at Yonge Street and York Mills Road/Wilson Avenue, one that will house the TTC’s new headquarters and possibly a transit museum, also includes a re-naturalized and publicly accessible edge to the West Don River.

Build Toronto (BT), the city’s arms-length real estate development arm, is hosting a public workshop on its project Wednesday, Nov. 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Agricola Finnish Lutheran Congregation, 25 Old York Mills Rd.

Though BT said its proposal “continues to evolve” based on feedback from the public, residents’ associations and commenting bodies, the preliminary proposal envisions the replacement of the existing 30-year-old, 260-space commuter parking lot at the northwest corner of Yonge and Wilson with an approximately eight-storey office building. The surface parking would be replaced with 231 parking spaces in an underground garage and 120 bicycle parking spaces, according to a preliminary report on the project reviewed by North York Community Council in the spring.

Toronto’s Official Plan allows for office uses on the 3.2-acre property though only two acres are developable due to environmental constraints. However, BT requires city council’s approval to exceed the Official Plan’s current site-specific height and density limits .

In August, council approved the transfer of ownership of the land from the TTC to BT. The city will compensate the TTC for the loss of operating revenue it generates from the parking lot on the property and BT will give the TTC money to pay for the “legacy value of the property,” a dollar figure that depends on the ultimate development of the property and whether the TTC becomes the major occupant.

The TTC plans to move its headquarters from 1900 Yonge St. at Davisville Avenue and it has signed a conditional offer to lease a portion of BT’s new office building.

BT, whose mandate includes supplying the city with an ongoing revenue stream, has started advertising for partners to design, build and lease the office complex. About 90 per cent of the building will be used for offices, with the remaining portion set aside for restaurant and retail uses and a potential transit museum, according to the city’s preliminary report.