While it may be difficult to see through all the marketing campaigns, news articles and construction sites devoted to our booming condominium market, Toronto has quite an active commercial development industry. Forum member pw20 drew our attention to the fact that we have nearly 10 million square feet of office space in the works within the downtown core, and the number increases as you begin to look outside to the inner suburbs and extensive office parks. In order to do due diligence to a facet of development that doesn't get its fair share of the spotlight, we're presenting the current state of office development to you in a three-part series: under construction, leasing and proposed.
We'll begin by taking a look at those buildings currently in the construction phase (or about to enter it). As we so often see in larger condominium projects, commercial developers tend to favour multi-phase projects, so the following developments have either already been introduced to us in some earlier form, or are the first phase in a series. Regardless, we're always excited to see another building go up — even more so if its architecturally innovative, but that may be too much to ask for. Still, we'll try to gather all the relevant information we can about these projects for you below.
Brookfield Properties are best known for their recent work on First Canadian Place; the recladding of Canada's tallest building had all of us craning our necks in anticipation of the final product. With the finishing touches being put in to place, we'll jump one block north to the Bay Adelaide Centre, which is now working on the east tower three years after phase 1 was finished. The tower will reach 44 storeys, comprising 980,000 square feet of which 43% will be held by professional service heavyweight Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte is the last of the Big Four auditing firms to be a lead tenant of a building in the downtown core, the latest of which was KPMG's tower at Bay Adelaide Centre West. The building is designed by KPMB Architects / Adamson Associates, breaking from WZMH Architects, the firm responsible for the west tower. Brookfield will aim for LEED Gold Certification, and hopes to have the building finished by late 2015.
No longer limited to the financial core, office development in downtown Toronto has moved south to the new "South Core" district, an area featuring a substantial development by bcIMC. Bounded by York, Bremner, Simcoe and the train tracks south of Union, bcIMC and GWL Realty Advisor’s three-building development is already home to the headquarters of PwC (650,000 square feet), with a second office tower yet to finish (700,000 square feet) and a four-star Delta Hotel on the way. The project — designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group with KPMB — will connect below ground to the PATH network, Union Station, and the Convention Centre. Similar to Bay Adelaide, bcIMC will aim for LEED Gold Certification, with extensive landscaping, terraces and gardens sure to appeal to the contemporary business tenant. The Bremner tower hopes to be finished by late 2014, with professional service firm Marsh and McLennan listed as lead tenant.
Directly south of Southcore on the other side of the Gardiner is another phased office development project, albeit spaced so far apart in time that you'd be hard pressed to associate the newest phase with the previous ones; WaterPark Place III by Oxford Properties will complete the tri-tower development. The first two phases have been settled for a while now (completed in 1986 and 1990 by B+H Architects), with work now progressing on phase three. The most ambitious of the three buildings, Oxford secured RBC as the lead tenant, with an additional 330,000 square feet of contiguous space available. Similar to Southcore, Waterpark Place will connect to the city's financial artery (the PATH) with a bridge that will stretch above Lakeshore Boulevard. Competing with the previous developments and looking to draw tenants south of the traditional financial core, Oxford recently announced that they will be aiming for LEED Platinum Certification. The 30-storey building has been designed by WZMH, and should be complete by late 2014.
Slightly smaller than the previous projects is First Gulf’s 333 King East redevelopment, the former home of the Toronto Sun. The first phase encompasses a revamp of the ground floor to accommodate No Frills, LCBO, Dollarma, CIBC, National Bank and additional retail, as well as a three-storey addition that will be tenanted by Coca-Cola Canada. The project will have 100,000 square feet of retail space, and 270,000 square feet of office space; from images taken late last month, the project looks as though it will the first of those mentioned so far to finish construction.
Jumping over the financial district and landing on trendy Queen Street West, we find the final large-scale office development currently under construction in the core. Allied REIT’s Queen Richmond Centre West (QRC West) is one of the more architecturally innovative building's discusses so far — &Co Architects have designed a 17-storey tower that rises from shell of a 4-storey warehouse, perched atop stilts akin to the Alsop-designed Sharp Centre at OCADU. The building will contain a total of 299,000 square feet of office space. Similar to the previous buildings, the development will seek LEED Gold Certification, and hopes to be complete by late 2014.
That wraps up our list of major office developments under or about to start construction in Toronto - stay tuned later this week for the second installment, where we look at projects currently in the leasing phase of development.