Photo: Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr

In Toronto’s St. Lawrence neighbourhood, a four-star hotel that is currently in use as a temporary shelter could be slated for redevelopment thanks to a newly-submitted application to the City.

On December 29th, an official plan and zoning by-law amendment application was provided to City of Toronto planners for 45 The Esplanade. According to online sources, the address is currently the location of the Novotel Toronto Centre that is situated just east of The Esplanade and Yonge Street.

Since February 2021, the site has been leased by the City of Toronto as a temporary shelter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel has been used to meet the needs for physical distancing within the city’s shelter system and provide space for those moving indoors from encampments. Current online information from the City says that response efforts will be in place until “at least the end of April 2022.”

At the time of publication, renderings and documents pertaining to the development proposal have not been made public on the City’s development portal. Early details listed on the application’s description say that the new project would consist of two 36-storey mixed-use buildings. Approximately 8,627 square metres of non-residential gross floor area would be included, in addition to 45,407 square metres of residential gross floor area.

A total of 682 residential dwelling units are proposed for the buildings. It is currently unclear what the tenure of these residences would be, whether they would be used as rental or condo suites.

The Novotel Toronto Centre — which is currently closed — says that it plans to reopen in spring 2022. Since the shelter’s opening last year, concerns have been raised over safety and crime in the area, including reports of human waste, used needles and garbage. The shelter, which is operated by Homes First, provides 24/7 safety teams and support from two paid-duty Toronto Police officers as part of community safety measures.

In other hotel news, Freed Hotels & Resorts/Resort Communities LP — a subset of Toronto-based Freed Developments — officially acquired three major Ontario resort properties in a $330 million deal. This includes Deerhurst Resort, Horseshoe Resort and the remaining development lands at Blue Mountain Resort.

In October 2021, development plans for The Courtyard Marriott Hotel near Yonge and Carlton streets were unveiled. If approved, KingSett Capital and BDP Quadrangle could revamp the site into a two-tower high-rise project reaching 75 and 78 storeys in height with 1,611 condo units, plus a large open outdoor space.

Last year, leasing for The Waverley kicked off in February 2021, a new purpose-built rental community located on the grounds of the former Silver Dollar Room and the Waverley Hotel.

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