Tell me more about First Capital.
First Capital is a leading owner, operator, and developer of mixed-use real estate in Canada. First Capital’s focus is on creating thriving urban neighbourhoods. First Capital is a long-term owner who is vested in the communities we build and plan; our head offices are located in Liberty Village -- our people work here, live here, lunch here.
We understand how to build an incredible retail experience, how to restore urban areas, and how to create a vibrant super urban community that brings value to the neighbourhood. First Capital is thrilled to have engaged two world-renowned Planning and Architecture firms to design this project from the ground up.
Why is First Capital proposing to develop this site?
In 2004, First Capital provided the emerging residential community at Liberty Village with its first retail offerings, anchored by the 50,000 sq. ft. Metro grocery store. In 2005, First Capital moved its corporate Head Office out of the downtown core to its current home at 85 Hanna Avenue and added neighbourhood retail and restaurant favourites such as Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Starbucks, GoodLife Fitness and the LCBO to the lower floors of the building.
For this site, First Capital has the opportunity to bring new retail, more housing options and new ways to connect safely and quickly to transit, retail, and your community. Building on the energy of this eclectic neighborhood, the vision includes a new pedestrian promenade extending from East Liberty Street to Snooker Street, merging with the public park to create an open-air piazza with outdoor patios, markets and new restaurants lining its edge, and connecting you safely to your favourite shops in Liberty Village and beyond.
Tell me more about the project team.
The First Capital Project Team for Liberty Village is made up of 12 companies with experience across a range of disciplines. Urban Strategies Inc., BDP Quadrangle architectural firm, and BA Group have significant experience in master planned, transit-oriented communities within urban centres.
Urban Strategies is a global urban design and planning consultancy based in Toronto that creates city-building strategies and master plans for government and large property owners around the world - including dozens of premium projects in their hometown.
BDP Quadrangle is one of Canada’s leading architecture, design and urbanism practices.
Active globally on A-List projects, Quadrangle is responsible for two of Liberty Village’s most iconic buildings: the beautifully restored wine warehouse first built in 1898 at 60 Atlantic Avenue that was repurposed as a three-storey commercial building and the new heavy timber 5-storey office building at 80 Atlantic, which recently won a Canadian Green Building Award for excellence in sustainability.
BA Group provides transportation planning and engineering services to public and private organizations across Canada and countries around the globe, providing thoughtful plans for the movement of people and goods in urban environments. Their focus is on sustainable urban land development and the legal, functional, social, and economic implications of various transportation systems. They analyze and improve existing systems, address transportation issues in support of high quality urban environments, and ensure new systems are designed, and developed efficiently, with the public’s interest in mind.
Information about our other consultants can be found on our project websites.
How will you engage the public to ensure our feedback is part of the plan for the site?
Throughout the planning process, both the City of Toronto Community Planning Team and First Capital will have a series of meetings and online platforms for you to share your feedback about this proposal. A Zoning By-Law Amendment Application was submitted in December of 2020, which is one of the first steps in this process. The application has initiated the start of the engagement process to inform the community about the plans and gather feedback, which will take place with Community Meeting #1, hosted by City of Toronto Community Planning Staff and your local Councillor on April 19, 2021. This is just the beginning and there will be several points of engagement for the community throughout the planning process.
Can you tell me about the plans proposed for the site? Which sites are part of this proposal?
In just a few decades, what was once a collection of time-worn buildings on forgotten lands has been transformed into an eclectic, urban hotspot. Today, Liberty Village is a meld of upscale residential, statement-making workspaces and hip hang-outs. First Capital is excited to share its vision for the Shops at King Liberty. We are seeking to create energy and connection with new links, public spaces and experiences to enhance this community.
Located in the heart of Liberty Village, a new public park will merge industrial with nature -- creating a walkable botanical greenway surrounded by natural landscapes, public art and historic architecture reminiscent of the area’s industrial history. Building on the energy of this eclectic neighbourhood, the vision includes a new pedestrian promenade extending from the corner of East Liberty Street to Snooker Street, connecting between the new public park at one end and the new urban plaza at the other to create an open-air piazza with outdoor patios, markets, and new shops and restaurants lining its edge.
We are working to help complete Liberty Village by creating new linkages that will integrate with existing and future transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure – better connecting Liberty Village to the new SmartTrack/GO Station, the new Ontario Line station, West Queen West and the West Toronto Rail Path via the safe and animated King High Line. Our pedestrian promenade was designed to move people along safe routes to get them to transit, bridges, and parks; all under 8 minutes on foot: King Street Bridge, West Toronto Rail Path, West Queen West and King High Line.
The proposal contemplates the intensification of the site with three mixed-use towers on two Blocks – Block A and Block B. Block A (75 Hanna Avenue) includes a 4 storey podium that connects two towers (with total heights of 29 and 34 storeys). This building will front onto a new Snooker Street Extension. Block B (120 Lynn Williams Street) at the site’s southern edge, will be redeveloped with a 7 storey podium with a tower above (with a total height of 33). The proposed development blocks are anchored by and frame a new community asset in the form of a proposed 12,131 sq. ft. (1,127 sq. m.) public park. The development will also feature a significantly enhanced pedestrian realm, including a promenade and an urban plaza, which is currently proposed at approximately 23,142 sq. ft (2,150 sq. m.). Combined, the public realm elements within the plan make up approximately 41% of the site, totalling over 35,000 sq. ft. (3,280 sq. m.) of open space for community enjoyment.
The redevelopment proposes a total gross floor area of 800,125 sq. ft. (81,379 sq. m.) comprised of 695,790 sq. ft. (64,641 sq. m.) of residential and 104,335 sq. ft. (16,738 sq. ft.) of non-residential uses (including 33,759 sq. ft. / 3,136 sq. m. retail, 70,578 sq. ft. / 6,5567 sq. m. office and 75,830 sq. ft. / 7,045 sq. m. above-grade parking). The development is proposed to include approximately 850 residential units in a range of unit sizes. A total of 527 parking spaces, 901 bicycle parking spaces and 5 loading spaces are proposed.
There will also be a range of housing options and office space to support the development of a truly mixed-use community. You can view the full proposal submitted to the City by visiting the Proposal page on our website.
How will this project benefit the Liberty Village community?
We are bringing to your neighbourhood a new public park, urban plaza and pedestrian promenade that will help us create safer pedestrian routes with improved access to new and existing retail. The promenade will create quick access to the future King Liberty SmartTrack/GO station, which is set to open in 2026. Merging with the public park, the pedestrian promenade will also bring animated spaces and places for the community to enjoy. And finally, you can expect to see new shops and restaurants to complement your favourites in Liberty Village and new office space in 75 Hanna. Furthermore, shifting from surface parking to structured and below grade parking will open up the centre of the site for new high-quality public spaces. Sidewalks around the site will be widened and improved with planting and seating for pedestrians.
What is the timeline for moving this project forward?
We are very early in the process. We submitted our first Zoning By-Law Amendment Application in December 2020, and submitted a Draft Plan of Subdivision on April 9, 2021. These are the first key milestones in an extensive planning process, and we will provide future opportunities for community engagement and collaboration with all key stakeholders. We are committed to working with the City and the community throughout the process.
How will First Capital support transit infrastructure in the community?
We believe that a key part of the solution to Liberty Village’s current traffic concerns is better transit, pedestrian and cycling connections. First Capital is doing its part through this proposal and other initiatives, such as the King High Line multi-use path and the King Street bridge crossing to provide superior access to higher order transit by a short walk or bike ride. The proposed promenade will connect residents to the future King Liberty SmartTrack/GO station for quick access downtown and to points north by train, walking or cycling. By integrating this plan with the existing and future transportation infrastructure improvements, First Capital seeks to contribute to the network through continuous connections from the West Toronto Rail Path, across King Street and the rail line over to Liberty Village -- helping to create a truly transit-oriented community at Liberty Village.
The future King Liberty SmartTrack/GO Station is expected to be operational in 2026 according to the most recent estimates from the City and Metrolinx. The funding for the station has been committed and planning is underway.
Introducing the option to walk to a station for a short one-stop ride to Union Station will be a game changer for many and significantly reduce the congestion associated with getting in or out of the community. If approved, First Capital’s investment in a multi-use path across the bridge over King Street will connect Liberty Village residents to this new station, while also enabling further connections to communities north of the rail corridor via the next phase of the West Toronto Rail Path.
Intensification will bring more people, cars and traffic. How does this plan respond to these issues?
Yes, intensification will bring more people to Liberty Village and our studies have specifically addressed this. The addition of the future King Liberty SmartTrack/GO station will provide an additional transit opportunity, in combination with the King Streetcar and GO Exhibition Line, to support the flow of people in and out of Liberty Village by foot, bike or rail. We designed the pedestrian promenade to deliver connections within the community for quick access downtown and to points north by train, walking or cycling, and are moving parked cars underground. Wider sidewalks and an improved Snooker Street will upgrade the pedestrian experience, coupled with a new 12,000 sq. ft. public park that will act like a walkable botanical greenway lined with shops, restaurants and places to dwell. The integrated mix of residential, employment, retail and public space within the proposal contribute to Liberty Village’s continued evolution into a more complete community.
Will the Metro, LCBO, or any other retail be removed from this site?
We are not taking away your Metro or LCBO. First Capital has a long history as a successful retail developer and will be seeking to improve the retail experience in this new development to align with your favourites currently within Liberty Village. This includes plans to fill the spaces previously occupied by the Beer Store and Williams Landing with new restaurant and retail options very soon while we continue to advance the Master Plan in collaboration with the City and community. We live here, we work here -- this is our neighbourhood, too, and it is important for us to get this right. Send us an email through our
contact form and let us know what new stores and restaurants you would like to see here.
Why did the Beer Store in Liberty Village close?
The closure of the Beer Store was a corporate decision made by the Brewers and is unrelated to the redevelopment plans for the site.
Will there still be surface parking at the Metro?
Yes, the surface parking in front of the Metro will remain and is not part of this application. Metro has a long-term lease for the store and the associated parking lot; we do not intend to make changes to this area in the near future.
What about our heritage buildings?
There are no heritage buildings within the development site. We are not taking away your heritage buildings, but are rather designing the proposed buildings to celebrate and enhance the area’s industrial history through beautiful design, public art, and landscape architecture
How are you going to manage construction?
We recognize how important it is to both Liberty Village residents and our retail tenants that disruption is minimized. Though it is early in the process, we will develop a construction management plan that will ensure congestion, noise and air pollution are appropriately managed during the construction process. We have a responsibility to our tenants and our neighbours to keep stores and doors open and accessible and will work with the City and community to mitigate any impacts associated with our construction activities as much as possible. Like all of our projects, we will provide a telephone and email contact to the community and businesses so they may connect directly with our Community Construction Liaison about any concerns once the construction process has started.
Are you building affordable housing here?
Toronto, like many cities, is experiencing unprecedented pressure on housing affordability, and delivering housing opportunities in a mixed-use community with a range of mobility options is responsible urban planning. This location will provide access to housing for a diverse group of citizens, and we will consider the needs of existing and future residents when planning the mix and tenure of units.
Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities Urban Design Guidelines are rooted in Toronto’s Official Plan vision, and seek to create an attractive and safe city where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy a good quality of life. The Guidelines request the development of a monitoring program to track the provision of residential unit types and sizes, and changes to housing occupancy trends of households living in buildings greater than five stories. The Guidelines are part of the planning process, and will be used to guide our application.
We need more parks in Liberty Village. What are you doing about this?
Now, more than ever, we understand the need people have to get outside. This plan responds to that need in conjunction with the location that it exists within. We are building a new public park, pedestrian promenade and urban plaza with over 35,000 sq. ft. (3,280 sq. m.) of car-free outdoor space for dog walking, places to sit and enjoy, and to meetup with friends. This flexible, continuous “piazza-like” open space will offer a variety of year-round activities and programming for the community, and responds to a myriad of everyday needs and activities. Located at the intersection of East Liberty Street and Lynn Williams Street, the existing urban plaza will be improved to become a community anchor with a large canopy of trees and gardens, an amphitheater for sitting and spending time, and a significantly enhanced pedestrian experience. The proposed design will also provide opportunities for bicycle parking and safe, direct access to nearby retail.
The City of Toronto is currently undertaking a Liberty Village Public Realm and Community Services and Facilities Study. The study will identify public realm improvements, pedestrian connections and set direction for the best utilization of city-owned assets and properties throughout Liberty Village in order to ensure that both the public realm and community services and facilities meets the needs of the community throughout Liberty Village. As our proposal moves through the City’s approval process, we look forward to identifying potential opportunities to align it with the community needs that are identified. More detail on the study can be found by clicking the link
How will shadowing impact my neighbourhood?
We acknowledge that great care must be pursued to limit shadows on public spaces and neighbouring buildings as is set out in the City of Toronto’s Official Plan policies. The towers proposed in this plan are more slender than neighbouring buildings and have been positioned to limit shadows mostly to the rail corridor and to the Metro and the parking lot. The shadows that do briefly pass through the park space and the parking areas behind the homes on Sudbury Street on the north side of the rail corridor are minor and fast-moving because of the narrow floor plate and orientation of the proposed towers.
What is the relationship of this application to the 85 Hanna Ave application?
First Capital submitted a proposal to add employment space with additional floors atop our current office building at 85 Hanna; this is a completely separate application and adds to the mixed-use vision for a complete community at Liberty Village.