Last week UrbanToronto reported on Allied Properties REIT’s many upcoming office projects on the west side of downtown Toronto. Recently details have emerged for the largest of those projects, a 48-storey, 1.1 million square foot office tower proposed south of Front Street between Simcoe and York Streets.
Although the site had received municipal approval for a 750,000 square foot tower prior to Allied's acquisition of the property in 2009, its close proximity to Union Station has spurred Allied to submit a new application to the City for additional density. One need look no further than the explosive growth of office towers in the Southcore neighbourhood to appreciate the high desirability—and scarcity—of office space within walking distance of the massive regional transit hub that is Union Station. Perhaps appropriately then, the tower, which will also connect directly to Union Station via the SkyWalk, will be known as Union Centre.
The property in question is currently the site of 151 Front Street, a 6-storey brick building which houses a telecommunications hub and carrier hotel, however the structure and its contents would be unaffected by the new development. Instead the tower will be constructed on surplus land just to the south of the existing structure. Because of the proximity to 151 Front Street, tenants of the new tower would be able to enjoy faster and more reliable connections to the data centre.
Our readers may recall that initial renderings for the project featured a somewhat staid and conservative rectilinear design, however the revised design by Sweeny &Co Architects Inc. features elegant, sweeping curved glass façades, a refreshing departure from the predominately "boxy" office buildings that Toronto has so far enjoyed during this most recent boom. Allied is hoping that the design will achieve LEED Platinum certification.
The 48th floor of the tower would enclose mechanical space in addition to a soaring 60 foot high atrium dubbed the 'Skyroom' which would be exclusively accessible by the anchor tenant. The Skyroom would be identifiable for those looking at the tower from the ground as being where the curve of the tower's façade crests.
Despite the building's municipal address being 20 York Street, the tower will actually abut Simcoe Street immediately south of Front Street West.
Though the tower sits on Simcoe Street, there is good reason for the tower's York Street address, as the tower will be accessible from York Street by way of a large public plaza and forecourt. The York side of the site would essentially serve as the tower's grand entrance, whereas the Simcoe side would be more akin to a back door. In order to accommodate this new space, Station Street, a privately-owned road currently connecting York Street to Simcoe Street, would be enclosed and made accessible via garage doors on both the York and Simcoe sides. The tower's loading docks would be accessed via these doors.
The tower will connect to Toronto's PATH System by way of the existing SkyWalk connection to Union Station, however the existing domed walkway would be refitted with a contemporary enclosure housing the terminal station of the Union Pearson Express. There is also a possibility that an elevated walkway will be constructed to connect the new tower directly with the Delta Hotel currently under construction at the northeast corner of Simcoe Street and Bremner Avenue.
Construction of the project is not expected to occur until municipal approvals have been obtained and pre-leasing thresholds have been met, but with Oxford Properties' ongoing plans for Oxford Place and the recent revelation of Cadillac Fairview's proposal at 156 Front West, the intersection of Front & Simcoe is clearly shaping up to be the next major office node in downtown Toronto.
For additional information and renderings on this project, click on the dataBase link below and stay tuned with UrbanToronto for more updates as they come!
Rami Kozman is a commercial real estate lawyer in Toronto and can be found on Twitter at twitter.com/ramikozman.