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Traffic and density concerns at site of former World's Biggest Bookstore

At the community meeting over the redevelopment of the former home of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, locals expressed concern about more than the density and design of the proposed 35-storey building.
Lifetime Developments has applied to turn the prime location at 20 Edward Street, between Bay and Yonge, into a mixed-use building with a three-storey commercial base and one-storey mezzanine. The proposal, which includes 629 residential units, would require changes to height restrictions for the flight path for Sick Kids Hospital helipad. There are five loading spaces proposed with direct access from the laneway to the north, a laneway, says Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, that’s already in heavy use.
“There’s also concern about what kind of retail they will be attractive, whether it will be sensitive to the environment on Yonge Street,” says Wong-Tam.
Ward 27 has been hit with an avalanche of development applications over the past few years, particularly along the Yonge Street corridor. While much of the public debate has focused on building height and what the exteriors look like—sheer glass towers versus playful post-modern articulation—Wong-Tam worries that there hasn’t been enough focus on what the buildings are doing at street level, the impact on transportation and the impact of years of construction on neighbourhoods.
“The residents and business owners know that development is part of downtown life but they’re asking for better consideration of traffic movement, for complete streets and for opportunities to improve the public realm and urban conditions, including open spaces like parks and civic squares. That constantly comes up,” says Wong-Tam. “They’re also asking for more affordable housing. How is it we can add more and more density in the downtown core and not consider issues such as housing?”
Wong-Tam says the developers alone are not responsible for these frustrations. She says the planning process often doesn’t ask the right questions.

The site plan approval for 20 Edward Street is still under review.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Kristyn Wong-Tam
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