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Skyline stretching 53-storey and 43-storey towers withstand critics at planning committee

An ambitious proposal to build London’s two tallest buildings faced pushback from neighbours — but ultimately received an endorsement from the city’s planning committee.

On Tuesday, a public participation meeting in front of the Planning and Environment Committee (PEC) heard from neighbours of 50 King St. where York Developments has requested zoning amendments to permit a mixed-use building with 53-storey and 43-storey towers.

The delegations included a parade of familiar faces at city hall.

“I am blown away at the heights that they want to put out there. It is just too high,” said former Board of Control member Dawn Erskine.

“Have a win-win,” suggested former mayor Joe Fontana. “Let York [Developments] build a 35-story building at Ridout and King and let the city offer to buy the rest of it.”

And former city councillor Sandy Levin advised the committee to get more information about necessary upgrades to sewer and water capacity before the development could proceed, “Without the cost information, it seems it should be a premature application.”

However, former city planner John Fleming pointed to the correlation between the building’s location and pervious municipal investments in the downtown including Covent Garden Market, Dundas Place and Bus Rapid Transit, “This being at the centre of rapid transit,” Fleming added.

The corner of King Street and Ridout Street where York Developments proposes the two tallest buildings in London. Oct. 3, 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)Proposed at the northwest corner of King Street and Ridout Street, several neighbours expressed concern about the impact construction activities might have on the adjacent Middlesex County Court House, a national historic site.

President of York Developments Ali Soufan assured the committee that consultants will be hired to monitor vibrations at neighbouring buildings during construction.

“Between the old county courthouse and where our underground parking structure commences, we have sufficient distance to make sure we mitigate any vibrations,” he added.

In lieu of affordable units in the towers, Soufan offered a $500,000 contribution towards Indwell’s current project to build new supportive housing.

City staff recommend the rezoning, but that construction won’t commence until a number of conditions are met related to sewage capacity, archeological potential and heritage.

Downtown Coun. David Ferreira reiterated the historic significance of the properties around the Forks of the Thames where London was founded.

He suggested the city take more time to ensure the development is suitable for the location, “It’s not as impactful as it could be, especially when the land is so sacred.”

“I really don’t like the idea of pitting housing density against heritage,” said Coun. Sam Trosow. “I would be much happier if there could be a better reconciliation.”

But neither Trosow nor Ferreira are voting members of the planning committee.

Proposed building at 50 King St. overlooking the Forks of the Thames. ( Source: City of London)Committee members hailed the ambitious plan.

“Intensity and density in the downtown, there is no better place for it,” argued Coun. Skylar Franke. “I appreciate all the effort that the applicant has been doing trying to address some of the concerns of the community.”

“Putting people downtown, putting 800 units of residential downtown is good for the downtown core,” said Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis.

The PEC committee unanimously (4-0) recommended the rezoning, including the list of holding provisions that must be met prior to construction.

The mayor suggested council’s support of this higher-density vision downtown could inspire similar projects.

“I hope that there are other developments like this in our downtown. I hope there are other high-density developments. I hope this is actually a catalyst,” Morgan said.

City council will make a final decision Oct. 17. Top Stories

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