Theatre mogul David Mirvish wants to knock down Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre to make way for three 80-storey condo towers designed by superstar architect Frank Gehry.
Mr. Mirvish said the plan, which would see several buildings demolished in the heart of the city’s theatre district, would take up to a decade to build.
“It says something about the city that I believe its citizens would allow us to do something this ambitious now,” Mr. Mirvish said.
While 2,600 condo units are planned, he said the project aims to build an arts legacy for the city. The project will contain museum space, which would feature many of his cherished paintings that have never been on public display.
He hasn’t approached the city for zoning yet, but has told councillors about his vision.
Councillor Adam Vaughan has been meeting with Mr. Mirvish for more than a year about the project, and said he was confident that heritage and height concerns could be addressed during the planning process. "This is a real positive for the city," he said.
The theatre has been open for 19 years. Mr. Mirvish said the city has substantially more theatres than it can use at the moment, but emphasized that the redevelopment didn’t mark a departure from his roots.
“Theatre is what I do,” he said. “And I have the capacity to build something else in a few years if that’s what’s needed.”
Mr. Gehry – who designed the Art Gallery of Ontario and is one the the highest profile architects in the world – said he signed onto the project because Toronto is his hometown and he has a long friendship with Mr. Mirvish.
“Everyone wants to be recognized in their hometown,” he said.
The condos are to be among the tallest in Canada, and plans call for retail space at ground level.
“This area had evolved,” Mr. Mirvish said. “But you still can’t buy a nice pair of shoes here.”
Mr. Mirvish will officially announce his plans Monday.