At today's groundbreaking ceremony for Great Gulf Homes' One Bloor condominium tower project at Bloor and Yonge Streets in the heart of Toronto, Dumitru Onceanu had the chance to sit down on behalf of UrbanToronto with Great Gulf President and Chief Operating Officer David Gerofsky to talk about the project.

David Gerofsky, President and COO of Great Gulf Homes, at the One Bloor siteDavid Gerofsky, President and COO of Great Gulf Homes, image by Craig White

Q: It was not long after Great Gulf acquired the site that you were ready to go: what amount of work did Great Gulf already have done before closing the deal on the site?

A: We moved very quickly when we saw that the opportunity had presented itself; we negotiated directly with Bazis.

Q: You had a very different proposal here than Bazis's plan, yet you gave purchasers in the (failed) Bazis project first crack at suites here. How did planning for the project proceed to keep as many purchasers as possible, while still differentiating your plan from Bazis's?

A: It was a totally new and completely different project. We started again with a clean slate. There's no hotel in this project, the architect and the retail is completely different. We simply went back to the original purchasers and offered them units in our new project, which many of them decided they wanted. They were very receptive. 

Q: Can you please tell us about your plans for retail at One Bloor and its street realm at such an important corner for Toronto.

A: There is going to be 100,000 sq feet of retail on 3 levels, and it's obviously garnered great interest from retailers, both Canadian and International.

Q: So we should maybe expect some international retailers to call One Bloor home?

A: Anything is possible, and it is still three and a half years till the building is complete. We are talking to a number of the biggest names in retail, and the announcements will be in due time. There has been fantastic interest. I think everybody would love to have the opportunity to be here, and as I say, it will be very exciting.

Q: Do you expect that there will be a mix of both big stores and small stores?

A: We have not concluded this yet, so it could be larger retail, and some smaller retailers.

Q: Tell me about the residential amenities.

A: 27,000 sq feet of indoor amenities on the 6th floor, and the indoor amenities include workout areas, spa, various treatment rooms, coupled, with a 19000 sq foot outdoor amenities space, which is green areas, pools, a park like setting. So the area exceeds one acre, and it's completely private only to the residents. We will have a pool that is literally an indoor/outdoor combined pool, where you can dive in on the indoor side, and swim right to the outside, 12 months a year, so it will be a heated pool to allow for that. It will be accessible in the winter time. We are creating something that is far in excess of anything that the city requires. This is something that will be very special and quite unique in the city, to have that quality and that sheer size.

Q: What else would you like to tell us about the building?

A: One thing I should mention is that we recently added 5 floors to the building, so it will be 70 storeys, and that was really just a product of the demand.

Q: How has that affected the design?

A: We anticipated the possibility of this at the onset of the project, and we took that into account in terms of the design, the elevators, so what you're seeing includes the extra floors.

Q: So the extra floors, are they being made available at the higher levels, or mid-rise in the building, and what kind of suites are we going to see?

A: The extra floors are going to be penthouse suites. The interior designs have not yet been done, but you can image that they will be highly desirable, and it will be very interesting to see how they will be completed and how large they are because they could be anywhere from 2,000 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft.

* * *
In coming days, UrbanToronto sits down with David Pontarini of architects Hariri Pontarini, and Michael McGrath of builder Tucker Hi-Rise.