ALPHA Fights for Light. Demand a stop to proposed developments at 540-544 King St. West

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We, the extended community of ALPHA Alternative Junior School, write today to express our opposition to the proposed development at 540-544 King St. W.

Due to  the shadowing caused by the tall and massive building, we have grave concerns about the size and shape of this development. This is a large building – tall and long, towering over 2 of the 4 sides of the school, with no breaks or effective tiering: it’s a monolithic concrete and glass giant.

It surrounds our school, putting it into a dark and shadowed corner. We are not opposed to development but we are asking for a design that acknowledges existing communities and especially the sensitive nature of a public school, which is not just another office tower. This is a public place and should be treated no differently than the park across the street.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, Allied was satisfied with the OMB-approved plans for 544 King St. on a smaller plot of land with two separate smaller commercial buildings. The two commercial buildings were approximately 1/3 shorter than the current proposal and were separated by a 9-metre gap. This gap was essential as it created a light corridor to penetrate across a development that runs almost the full length from King to Adelaide. The opening softened the impact of adding more mass and height to such a small footprint.

With the currently proposed development, Allied and Great Gulf have a larger plot of land, and have used every square foot for development, including a design that by placing the elevators in a ‘hallway’ between the residential and commercial has created a 50+m high concrete wall along the east and west side of the development - how can this be deemed the right fit with the King-Spadina strategic plan?

There are alternative approaches to this space: there could still be a large commercial building along 540-544 King St, and a shorter residential tower off of Morrison Street, with a clear separation between the two. Such a separation would allow the development to include a green space between two towers. This green space could be used to include more trees, which are missing from the development. Within the merged 540-544 King St. West commercial building (far larger than each lot on its own), there is now ample room for the commercial elevators.

There is a risk that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal may ultimately take away our local decision-making process, and so we ask the Community Council, and the City to make a decision that is in the best interests of the community it is representing. We are asking that these representatives place equal importance and protection to the children’s school as they have done for St Andrews Park.

Please protect the school as a public space, refuse to authorize the current development; and request a design that supports its neighbours: dedicated members of the community to which we all belong.

The healthy growth and development of our children is at stake. Let's work together as a community to do our best for our future citizens.