As of this past December's Toronto City Council meeting, H&R REIT, the owners of the Atrium on Bay complex since 2011, now have a zoning amendment that they need to allow expansion of the complex.
Originally opened in 1979, the Atrium on Bay takes up most of the block bounded by Yonge, Dundas, Bay, and Edward Streets in Toronto's Commercial heart, just north of the Eaton Centre. Marked by atriums which rise the full height of 14 and 13-storey office towers which rise over the east and west ends of the site respectively, the ground floor and lower level of the complex are feature stores and restaurants. The complex connects via the PATH pedestrian network underground to the Dundas subway station and Eaton Centre to the south and to the Toronto Coach Terminal to the west.
H&R plans to add 5 storeys to each of the office towers, while carrying out several changes to the ground floor configuration, and rebuilding the complex's connection to Bay Street.
At ground level, planned changes include relocating the entrance to the complex to the very southeast corner, and internalizing the Dundas subway station access within it. This will allow for the stairway which now rises to the surface in the sidewalk to be removed, reclaiming that much needed space for pedestrians.
Other plans include three new elevators to be added to the banks currently serving the existing floors in each tower. The new elevators would serve the five new floors, and would require changes to the ground level mall space. Escalators which connect the two retail levels would have to be relocated.
The proposal calls for the widening of sidewalks along the Edward Street frontage of the complex, and new landscaping. That street currently feels like the building's back side, which garage access and loading docks emphasize. The landscaping would act to minimize that affect.
The largest changes coming to ground level would be along Bay Street. Currently, the sidewalk is extra-wide here, and includes stairs down to a recessed open area at the west end of the lower level.
That space, including its terrace planters, stairs, and walkways, would be demolished. In its place, the building's first two floors (and lower level) would be extended, maintaining a 5.5 metre-wide sidewalk along Bay Street, in line with buildings to the north and south. New retail space would front Bay.
The additional five storeys on each tower, plus the new two-storey space along Bay Street add up to an additional 26,360 square metres or 283,000 square feet of space for the complex.
H&R REIT have not yet made a public announcement regarding when they may proceed with the expansion. In the meantime, Clear Channel Outdoor Canada are rebuilding the media tower at the east end of the complex, seen below from Yonge-Dundas Square with the "rookie blue" ad and others on its southern face.
The circle is being replaced with a huge new LED screen, while the other sign faces are also being rejigged. Changes are occurring on the north face as well. The new large screen is planned, among other things, to be used to broadcast action during the Pan Am Games to people watching from the square.
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