Architects rally to stop Toronto studio rezoning

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Leading Canadian architects on Thursday launched an eleventh-hour bid to stop plans to redevelop a major film studio on Toronto's waterfront into a big box site anchored by a Wal-Mart.

"Exploiting that waterfront with large-scale 'black box' facilities and their attendant infrastructure is unthinkable," said Daniel Libeskind, whose architectural design was chosen for the reconstruction of the former World Trade Center site in Manhattan.

Other critics of a proposed rezoning of the Toronto Film Studios complex at 629 Eastern Ave. from industrial to retail development includes Jack Diamond, who designed Toronto's new opera house, and Ken Greenberg, who designed a new master plan for Boston University.

The Toronto Film Studios complex recently hosted Marvel Entertainment's $100 million "Incredible Hulk" shoot in Toronto.

An application to rezone 629 Eastern Ave. already has been denied by the city of Toronto. But developer SmartCentres, a consortium that includes the Toronto Film Studios owner Rose Corp. and developer Mitchell Goldhar, appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial quasi-judicial body that rarely denies property development applications.

Critics contend that the loss of the Toronto Films Studios will further complicate a chronic shortage of quality sound stages in Toronto that are available to Los Angeles producers and their film and TV shoots.

Toronto Mayor David Miller and local councilor Paula Fletcher have urged the provincial government to overrule the OMB, which is set to hold hearings on the studio redevelopment May 20.
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