The First Gulf Corporation has announced its purchase of the former Unilever factory at 21 Don Valley Parkway and it intends to transform the vast industrial site into a new office park.
The former Unilever factory and surrounding property, situated on the east bank of the Don River by Lake Shore Boulevard, has been underutilized since the company declared bankrupcy in 2009. In 2002, Unilever sold the factory, but not the land, to Pensler Capital Corporation of New Jersey. Pensler began waging a war of attrition locally: the company's name was changed to Korex, wages were frozen and workers lost their Unilever pensions. Pensler offered a contract to workers in 2008 which they said eliminated seniority and benefits. Later that year, 160 workers walked out and, in August of 2009, Korex declared bankruptcy.
In its current state, the 28.5 acre site contains 225,000 square feet of factory space and a 200,000 square-foot warehouse. According to First Gulf, the factory space will be converted for office use and the warehouse will be leased out for storage. Additionally, more office buildings will be appended to the site down the road so that in a few years, nearly 4,000 workers may have jobs at 21 Don Valley Parkway.
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