Why Is Charlie So Tall?


< 1 minute read

September 12, 2012

Nah, not my buddy Charlie Weese – he’s 6’6″.

I mean Charlie Condos!  How did Great Gulf Homes get zoning to build a condo that towers over the ones beside it?

My guesstimates in the video weren’t that far off:

Charlie is 36 storeys.

The Hudson is 21 storeys.

Glas is 16 storeys.

The Charlotte is 13 storeys.

Remember that the order went Charlotte (13), Hudson (21), Glas (16), and then finally Charlie (36).

I think the idea of a 36-storey condo next to a 21-storey condo and a 16-storey condo – both of which are less than five-years-old, is absolutely insane.

Where do we draw the line?

When I’m driving north on Sherbourne, through Front Street, I look up and see the corner of King & Sherbourne where there are three existing buildings, all pretty much the same level: Mozo is 15-storeys, King’s Court is 17-storeys, and East Lofts is 17-storeys.  And you know what?  King Plus is going to be built next year, and it too is 17-storeys.  The block just looks like it “works,” and like it was planned in advance and a certain set of standards were adhered to.

I think Charlie is a very cool building, and it has a lot going for it.

But I also think the building is just way too tall for that location, and it’s a bit confusing and congested.

I certainly hope the City of Toronto doesn’t approve a 50-storey monster on the southeast corner of King/Spadina where the LCBO currently stands.

Although, something tells me we’re not that far off…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Graham

    at 8:20 am

    I’ve done some preliminary research for you David and it looks Great Gulf applied to the City way back in March 2004 for a 25-storey building, then came back in November 2004 with a revised application for 30-storeys. Also in November 2004, Great Gulf appealed the application to the Ontario Municipal Board on the basis that the municipality failed to address it within the required period of time.

    Other Background information copied from the Settlement Report is below the link. The Planning department recommended to City Council that the City settle with Great Gulf instead of a fighting it out at a full blown Ontario Municipal Board hearing.


    At the same time as the application for Charlie, Council approved a proposal for 326 –328 King Street West, (two blocks to the east of this application), for a mixed use building housing the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) offices and related uses in the first six floors, and a 37-storey condominium above. The total height of the building, not including the decorative element, was approved for 143.7 metres. As part of the approval, the applicant provided a contribution towards a planning study of the impact of this height on the surrounding area.

    In light of the increasing number of pre-application proposals for buildings significantly in excess of the permitted height of 30 metres, City staff accessed the TIFF contribution to conduct a one day Discussion Session and Workshop for the area bounded by Richmond Street West, Front Street West, Spadina Avenue, and Simcoe Street. This workshop was held on December 17, 2004 and was attended by architects, urban designers, area owners, developers and City Staff.
    The workshop consisted of two built form groups and one public realm improvement group whose tasks were to comment and create a vision for the area. The participants were asked to focus on options for the section of King Street in which this application is located. The results of the workshop were reported to City Council in a report dated February 15, 2005 that provided planning review principles for area proposals. Among the conclusions of this session was that the north side of King Street West could be intensified. These proceedings are to be considered as part of the area planning framework review that has been approved for study by City Council and is scheduled to be completed in 2005.

    At its June 2005 meeting, Council approved the Settlement Report dated May 17, 2005 that recommended approval of the 30 storey proposal (323 units).

    At the hearing of July 20, 2005, the OMB approved the proposal in principle and required the City and the applicant to provide the OMB with a Draft By-law and Site Plan Agreement that was agreeable to both parties.

    So, how did they get to 36-storeys?

    Further to that OMB hearing, Great Gulf proposed an additional two floors to be located within the height limit approved by the OMB. The request to add two floors within the same height limit in the proposed building is achieved by reducing the floor to ceiling heights of a sufficient numbers of floors to accumulate the required height.

    This information is copied from this report: (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/2005/agendas/committees/te/te050919/it008.pdf).

    Ok, so now were at 32-storeys, but isn’t Charlie 36-storeys?

    Well, then those sneaky and greedy developers 🙂 went back for more height and residential gross floor area through the Committee of Adjustment in June 2008. Unfortunately, Committee of Adjustment minutes and decisions aren’t online, so we don’t know if the Planning Department was in favour of this new height. You’d have to go to the Committee and ask to see the physical file to find out if another report was written. Anyway, the Committee approved the new height. Boom 36-storeys!!

    Clear as mud?

    IMO, when the City approved the TIFF Bell Lightbox/Festival Tower building at 43-storeys (it was later increased to 46-storeys, probably through the Committee of Adjustment), it pretty much set the height standard for this area. And finally, I apologize for this ridiculously long comment.

  2. BillyO

    at 8:28 am

    As for the LCBO at King and Spadina, while this is all very prelimary (LCBO has a lease until 2017 if I’m not mistaken), here is what we could expect:


    Basically two towers of 20 (in line with the Hudson, Spadina side) and 37 stories (in line with Charlie and M5V, King side) on a shared 8 storey podium (with room for retail like a LCBO). Some of the massing images show just how dense the surrounding area will become. What a change from just 10 years ago when The Hudson first into sales.

  3. Ralph Cramdown

    at 9:35 am

    Man, if you don’t want density at King and Spadina, where do you want it? Good transit connections and walking distance to all those downtown jobs… it’s a natural. I was so galled when they were putting up that LCBO and I realized it was only going to be 1 storey — I assumed it was just the podium for a much taller building.

    I find it hard to differentiate between a twenty storeys and fifty. Once you’re over about fifteen, it’s a tall building and you don’t much notice the difference in the immediate vicinity, though they look much different on the skyline if you’re over on the island. They’re different from a planning perspective, as the taller one houses many more people and cars, but analysis of that (beyond “good transit, walkable neighbourhood and to downtown”) is beyond my expertise.

    Anyway, it doesn’t much matter, as my prediction is that anything that isn’t significantly pre-sold at this point will end up getting cancelled/delayed for about ten years.

  4. Sidera

    at 12:27 pm

    I say build as many tall buildings as the market will dictate. New York became a world class city, because developers continued to one up each other. In the age of low regulations for building codes, this was the recipe for massive growth and a productive economy.

    When Toronto, or the rest of Canada for that matter repeals these by laws we will experience an boom this country will benefit greatly. All one has to do is look at the great Adam Vaughan for tearing down that home, which didnt have the necessary permits. Socialists love their champagne.

    Until the invasive building codes, and countless permits people must jump through to build are removed, we will have a highly constrained and centrally planned communities. Ask the Soviets how central planning worked.

    Just look at the new Regent Park. This will be a complete farce by the time it is to be completed. They are building a brand new slum, fresh with frosted glass. Lovely.

  5. Darren

    at 7:04 pm

    What a great idea. Let’s remove building codes, get rid of permits and forget about the inspections while you’re at it.

    Sidera has obviously never taken a look at some of the “construction” work done without planing and permission. Easily the dumbest reply I’ve ever seen on your blog David.

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