The future of an unsightly parking lot at the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Wilson Avenue may finally be clearer as further details have been revealed for the planned mixed-use development by The Gupta Group / Easton’s Group. The 3.2 acre site, managed by the Toronto Transit Commission as a commuter parking facility, falls within Build Toronto's portfolio of developable City of Toronto properties they have been charged with selling. An initial proposal for the site called for a seven-storey LEED Gold office building designed by KPMB Architects—which the TTC was set to occupy—but the plans were abandoned following community opposition.
Two weeks ago, The Gupta Group / Easton’s Group officially announced their purchase of the 266-space lot with a new vision in mind: a half a million square-foot mixed-use development containing a 4-Star hotel, luxury office condominiums, and ground level retail space. Enjoying direct access to York Mills subway station, the $300 million project will be designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects. UrbanToronto recently talked with Steve Gupta, President and CEO of The Gupta Group / Easton's Group, who provided us with some further details about the new proposal.
The development will likely include a Starbucks and a mid-sized restaurant, with the idea being "whatever is convenient to local residents so they don't have to go to a shopping centre," said Gupta. Gupta is seeking either a Marriott or Hilton to fill the space at the property in a neighbourhood he believes desperately needs a hotel. The site's strategic location, straddling Yonge Street and the Don Valley Golf Course, also opens up opportunities that Gupta hopes to capitalize on. A rooftop bar and lounge providing panoramic views of the Don Valley is proposed. The lounge will be usable to guests staying in the over 200 rooms included in the hotel.
Over an acre of land at the site will be dedicated to conservation through the rebuilding of the Don River bank and new landscaping to complement the Don Valley Golf Course. The building itself will also carry on the environmental stewardship of the previous proposal by targeting LEED Gold certification.
Between the hotel, 320,000-350,000 square feet of office space and 40,000 square feet of retail space, the development is expected to create upwards of 1,000 jobs. "Build Toronto wanted somebody who would create employment in the area and most of the big developers are not in the hotel business, so they cannot do it," said Gupta. "We’re a better fit to do a multi-use building."
Office condos are relatively rare in Toronto, but they fill a gap by providing a stable alternative to leasing. "People want office condos that they can afford," said Gupta. "They want to have their office and control it so their rent never goes up, they can never be pushed out of their space by somebody who’s bigger next door." He noted that people who live in the area may be interested in buying a small office to avoid the downtown commute. The Easton's Group is planning on relocating to the new building, which will act as the flagship property under the rebranded Gupta Group umbrella.
"The site was crying for development. It was sitting there for so many years just like that," said Gupta. "Within a year it will start construction and within three years it will be a beautiful building that people will be proud of and will provide services to the area residents."
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