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David Mirvish and Frank Gehry want to raze the Princess of Wales Theatre to build condos

(Image: Gehry International, Inc)

Over the weekend, theatre tycoon David Mirvish unveiled a grand plan to knock down a section of the entertainment district that includes the Princess of Wales Theatre, and replace it with three 80-storey condo towers designed by Frank Gehry. (At the moment, the renowned Toronto-born architect’s redesign of the AGO remains his only major contribution to the local cityscape.) The project, which would nestle along King Street between the Royal Alexandra and the TIFF Bell Lightbox, would contain all manner of development goodies, according to Mirvish:

Our vision is a project that will encompass three distinct and remarkable residential towers that will be unlike anything that has been built in Toronto. They will be grounded by stepped podiums that will house a large, new public gallery called the Mirvish Collection, a new campus for the OCAD University, and planted terraces that will create a green silhouette overlooking King Street.

In his announcement, Mirvish underscored how the project’s ambitious and innovative design would celebrate both Gehry and the art of architecture (“I am not building condominiums, I am building three sculptures”). He also talked up the gallery and retail spaces, the former for his substantial art collection, and the latter because “you still can’t buy a nice pair of shoes here.”

Still, with over 2,600 units, the project is a major foray into the real-estate market more than anything else. The massive new towers would contribute to the breakneck speed of condo development in Toronto, which hasn’t slowed down despite concerns about the city’s “Manhattanization” and the market’s dramatic (and induced) cooldown this summer.