UrbanToronto was very pleased today to be at the long awaited groundbreaking ceremony for One Bloor, Great Gulf Homes' landmark 70-storey condominium tower in the heart of Toronto. Announced less than 2 years ago, excavation will soon begin, and in another 3 and a half years the doors will be open. That's pretty quick for a building of this size… even though it may not seem like it. Plans have been afoot for a tower on the site for a decade or more now, with threads in the UrbanToronto forum following every twist and turn over the years.

Great Gulf President David Gerofsky hosts the One Bloor Groundbreaking eventGreat Gulf President David Gerofsky hosts the One Bloor Groundbreaking event, image by Craig White

Developer The Kolter Group were the first to plan a tower for the site, which was to be 60 storeys tall. Kolter then made a strategic decision to move their residential business to Florida in 2006, and sold the site to Bazis International, an established builder in oil-rich Kazakhstan, but a newcomer to the Toronto development scene. Bazis's 80-storey plan for the site drew a huge amount of interest, but it was ultimately taken down by the crash of Lehman Brothers, a lender to the Bazis project, and part-owner of some of the land. Bazis has since gone on to complete Crystal Blu in Toronto, and is proceeding on Emerald Park and Exhibit Residences projects, but was forced to bow out of their 1 Bloor East plan. One September 16, 2009 it was announced that Great Gulf Homes had acquired the site.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam speaks at the One Bloor Groundbreaking eventCouncillor Kristyn Wong-Tam speaks at the One Bloor Groundbreaking event, image by Craig White

Today, the two false starts are now for the history books, and Great Gulf is breaking ground on their version of the tower. With representatives on hand from each company involved in the $450 million project, ceremonial first shovels parted digital earth, and revealed the skyscraping virtual tower on the video wall behind. David Gerofsky, President and Chief Operating Officer of Great Gulf Homes hosted, inviting city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Doug Ford to the say a few words.

Shovels dig into virtual earth at the One Bloor Groundbreaking eventShovels dig into virtual earth at the One Bloor Groundbreaking event, image by Craig White

Those taking part in the ceremony also included David Pontarini, founding partner at Hariri Pontarini Architects, Anna Simone, founding partner at Ceconni Simone Interior Design, Glenn Herman, principal and senior designer at Janet Rosenberg & Associates landscape architects, Barbara Lawlor, president of Baker Real Estate, and Michael McGrath, president of Tucker Hi-Rise Construction. McGrath is pictured above, with shovel in hand closest to the camera.

One Bloor East condos Toronto developed by Great Gulf HomesOne Bloor towers over the Great Gulf team at the One Bloor Groundbreaking event, image by Craig White

With the public confirmation today that One Bloor is adding 5 more storeys to total 70, the number of suites in the building has risen to 732. They are 85% sold out. The Hariri Pontarini-designed building will feature 27,000 square feet of unique indoor-outdoor resort-style amenities designed by Ceconni Simone, and 19,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space designed by Janet Rosenberg + Associates.

Click on the link to UrbanToronto's dataBase below for much more information about One Bloor East.

Next up, Dumitru Onceanu sits down with Great Gulf Homes president and COO, David Gerofsky.