It's still early days for The One, plans for which were revealed yesterday by Mizrahi Developments and Foster + Partners at the Park Hyatt Hotel on Avenue Road. The companies are working towards a zoning bylaw amendment submission to the City of Toronto for Monday, March 16, starting the project's walk through Toronto's planning approvals process.
Getting approvals for any major development is a long process, and when you are redeveloping a site with buildings already standing on it, the complications are naturally increased. To that end, the Toronto Preservation Board will be considering the designation of 774 Yonge Street—a heritage listed three-storey Victorian commercial building currently known as the home to Hue's Kitchen—under the Ontario Heritage Act.
A report on the building will go to the Toronto Preservation Board on March 24. If the property is deemed worthy of designation by the Board, the report would then go to Community Council for approval in April, and pending approval there, on to City Council for final approval in May. Should 774 be designated, it will either require modifications to the design of The One's Yonge Street frontage, or another creative solution that would be acceptable to the City.
Sam Mizrahi, President and CEO of Mizrahi Developments, is hoping to have agreements in place soon as he has a commitment with a global retailer to open at least one space in the project's 8-storey base by the first quarter of 2018. To accomplish that, Stollerys is coming down at the corner of Bloor and Yonge to make core sampling of the earth below the site possible in short order. Plans are to excavate 35 metres down, which would be a record depth for a tower in this city (and possibly the whole country), and deep enough for a 600-car parking garage below the site.
Excavation and then a return to the surface with new structure is projected to take 20 months or so. It would likely take another 8 months to build the 8-storey retail podium's structure, and an unknown amount of time to finish its interior spaces. The plan, like at the currently completing Aura about a kilometre to the south, would be to open the retail while construction proceeds on the residential tower above. In place of typical construction hoarding, a temporary shield—again, similar to what was put in place for Aura—would have to be erected to protect pedestrians and vehicles below from any materials that could accidentally fall during construction.
It's all very complicated, but Mizrahi promises to bring cutting edge techniques to bear to realize The One, all the while constructing it without closing a lane on Bloor or on Yonge. That's a pledge that Mizrahi made at the unveiling of the project. It's typically accomplished in cities like New York where taking up a lane is forbidden, but which has not been the norm in Toronto.
So, what is proposed for the retail podium?
The place to start seems to be not with what's in it, but what's around it: wider sidewalks. On Yonge Street, the current 8.5 foot/2.6 metre-wide sidewalk would be widened to 15.75 feet/4.8 metres and on Bloor, the current 14.4 foot/4.4 metre-wide sidewalk would be widened to 27.2 feet/8.3 metres. This would be achieved by not building the new structure out to the property line as the current buildings are, and would add enough sidewalk space outside the building for planting trees while still giving pedestrians more room.
Pedestrians would be presented with expansive windows looking into very high quality retail space, something that is in short supply in Yorkville where global retailers continue to jockey for locations that can provide their customers with "International Brand Retail Experiences" of the type found on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The main entry area on Bloor Street would be a via a forecourt with a living wall lining its west side.
Inside, a 196 foot/60 metre-high atrium would open up before visitors with a series of escalators serving all levels, and with elevators off to the side. The horizontality of balconies for all retail levels would mark the interior as diagonal planes of both plantings and public art digital screens would guide eyes up through the levels.
A typical floor plate here would include a number of retailers. In the image above of the sixth floor, the space is shown configured for four retailers, but it can be modified to suit. The third and sixth floors include landscaped and covered terraces facing Bloor and Yonge Streets; the terrace is indicated above with a series of restaurant tables arranged to take advantage of the views, and bordered by planters along its full outside face.
Residents would find their own set of elevators waiting to whisk them to the 12th level above the podium, where they would cross via a glass-enclosed bridge over to the tower to continue the journey to their suites. This set-up allows wide-open retail spaces below the residences as the tower elevator shafts would not have to pierce the retail floors below. The building overall, both residential and retail portions, does not require interior columns on any floor to hold it up as the diagrid exoskeleton carries the building's load. We will look more at the engineering of the building in a future article.
Retail would also go one storey below ground at The One, where two retail spaces would front on to walkways connected to the Bloor-Yorkville area PATH system. The connection seen at the top of the image above is proposed to connect to the existing walkway under Mayfair Mews between the Holt Renfrew Centre and 2 Bloor West, while the connection seen at the right of the image would then continue to the northeast under the Bloor-Yonge intersection to the Yonge Station entrance on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Those using the PATH connections would also be able to access the Yonge line station via either walkway.
There's a lot more about The One to look at, so we will be back with further articles in coming days. If you want to know more now, you can see many more renderings of the project in our dataBase file for the project, linked below. If you want to get in on the discussion, choose the associated Forum thread links, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.To request more info directly from The One click here