Nobu Residences Toronto broke ground today with an event that could easily have been mistaken for a Toronto Film Festival happening. The star-studded ground breaking was to celebrate the start of construction for the development by Madison Group and Westdale Properties, and was headlined by Hollywood icon Robert DeNiro, film producer Meir Teper, celebrity chef and project namesake Nobu Matsuhisa, while Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Toronto developers were on hand to fill out the stage.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, Crowds line the Nobu ground breaking, image by Jack Landau

Crowds of onlookers gathered to the east and west on Mercer Street, which was closed off to traffic and pedestrians to accommodate the festivities. Around noon, a pair of traditional Taiko drummers began to play—a nod to the project's Japanese influences—as project principals, celebrity investors, and other VIPs took to the stage to begin the ceremony.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, Nobu Toronto ground breaking, image by Jack Landau

Following remarks from Madison Group representatives, then Meir Teper, then Nobu Matsuhisa—all focusing on the project—the most notable and headline-grabbing speech came from Robert DeNiro, who triggered a cacophony of shutter clicks and a round of applause with an apology on behalf of the United States for their President's conduct at the recently concluded G7 summit in Quebec.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, Robert DeNiro at the Nobu ground breaking, image by Jack Landau

The mic then went to Mayor John Tory, who delivered the final remarks before the ceremony photo op, thanking all of those involved in the project for their significant investment in Toronto.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, TorontoMayor John Tory at the Nobu ground breaking, image by Jack Landau

After Mayor Tory's remarks, the VIPs gathered for a sake toast, followed by the ceremonial first shovels, inscribed to commemorate the event.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, TorontoCeremonial ground breaking for Nobu, image by Jack Landau

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, TorontoCeremonial ground breaking for Nobu, image by Jack Landau

The ceremonies rarely match up with the actual start of construction, and that was the case again today: no heavy equipment was evident at the site of the Teeple Architects-designed twin 45-storey towers, though building permits are currently under review by City staff, with a shoring permit most recently applied for on June 1st. Some demolition work behind the heritage facades (to be retained) is no doubt under way.

Nobu Residences Toronto, Madison Group, Westdale, Teeple Architects, TorontoNobu Residences Toronto, image courtesy of Madison Group/Westdale Properties

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