Toronto's Downtown East Side has witnessed a surge in development recently, especially around the intersection of Dundas and Jarvis, where CentreCourt Developments is planning a 47-storey condominium with a host of unique amenities catered towards students attending Ryerson University.
“Proximity to Ryerson is a key theme of our project as Ryerson, which is one of the fastest growing major universities in Canada, provides an incredible source of vibrancy and development in the area," said Shamez Virani, Vice President of CentreCourt Developments. "The exponential growth of Ryerson has led to an emergence of what we’re dubbing the 'Learning District' which is the neighbourhood immediately surrounding Ryerson. Within the Learning District, there are a large number of amenities that really cater towards the 21st century knowledge society.”
"With Dundas and Jarvis, there’s activity on every corner," said Virani. "For example, kitty corner to the site of Grid Condos, Ryerson is in the planning stages for the future Ryerson Sciences Building. Also, MLSE recently announced their Sport for Development Centre just north of Grid Condos," said Virani. "It’ll be a 42,000 square-foot state-of0the-art facility with multi-sport playing courts, office space, and classroom space. Residential development is catching up to all the other activity that’s happening in the neighbourhood. All these amenities have created a huge demand for housing in the neighbourhood."
With Ryerson University located just steps away, it is anticipated that the 528-unit building will become an attractive option for students looking for a quick and convenient commute. "Ryerson students and students in general are cost and time conscious, so the ability to walk to school is a key feature for Ryerson students that are looking for housing."
The Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects-designed tower features a design which mimics the grid street system Toronto—and many North American cities—was built upon. The name was inspired by the architecture and the building's prominent location on a major downtown intersection. "Our relationship with Page + Steele goes back to INDX Condos," said Virani. "We quickly realized there were a lot of similarities organizationally in terms of the way that our companies operated, and also on the design side we were very pleased with the work that they were doing." CentreCourt is also collaborating with Page + Steele on Core Condos, a 24-storey condominium at Shuter and Dalhousie.
At five years old, CentreCourt is still a relatively young company, though their impact on the downtown core was immediately felt when they launched their first project with Peter Street Condominiums which is now completed and fully occupied. “Our core focus is on high-rise residential in Downtown Toronto," said Virani. "We are true believers in urbanism and cities. The market has seemed to agree with our strategy and our past four projects were 100% sold out and under construction within a year of launching sales. The tremendous sales response that our past projects have received have allowed us to quickly shift gears from sales to construction and focus on efforts on ensuring the timely delivery of great developments. We have also been careful not to overextend ourselves and take on too many projects at any given time.”
“We focus a lot on the podium expression," said Virani, who pointed to several of CentreCourt's developments, including Karma Condos, which incorporates a heritage building in its base. "How people really experience the building is at-grade in terms of materials and the amenities in the building.” Virani also noted that knowing the buyer demographic is crucial when it comes to the type of amenities a building offers. “With Grid, we have two entire floors dedicated to amenities. That’s more than we’ve ever done in any project in the past and it’s far above the average.”
The recent opening of Ryerson University's Student Learning Centre has brought a dedicated study space for students, but it has proved popular enough that finding a spare desk has become a challenge. "There’s not a lot of space for students to find places to work and collaborate," said Virani. "Space is at a premium in the downtown core as evidenced by the fact that within weeks of its opening, the Ryerson Student Learning Centre was already over-capacity. After realizing the pent up need for work space, decided to dedicate an entire floor of our building, about 6,000 square feet inside and 2,500 square feet outside, towards the creation of the Grid Learning Centre. It’s our take on the 21st century library with open concept space, modular furniture, breakout rooms and individual space. Through the Grid Learning Centre, we will bring the campus experience into our building and we believe this amenity will be a great feature in attracting students into the building."
"The Grid Learning Centre will be outfitted with the latest in technology, including high-speed wireless internet, photocopiers, scanners; the technology that most students don’t have in their home and currently are relying on their campus to provide. "Rather than trying to create the same assortment of amenity rooms you see in all the buildings, we said let’s focus on who we know will likely be in this area. Whether they’re a Ryerson Student, a resident at St. Michael’s Hospital, or someone at the National Ballet School, anyone in this knowledge environment, the 'Learning District', will utilize this space almost daily."
Grid Condos will also include ground-floor retail, a party room, guest suites and a large gym facility, sizing in at over 3,000 square feet. “A gym membership is a great cost to students that we wanted to eliminate," said Virani. With students quite used to cramped living quarters, Grid Condos is set to help solve the problem of lacking downtown study and social spaces by focusing on student-oriented amenities. The revitalization of Dundas and Jarvis is well under way, and if all proposed projects go ahead as planned, the intersection should look unrecognizable in the years to come.
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