Toronto is in the midst of a historic building boom, which has and will continue to transform many areas across the city. At the epicentre of this explosion of growth is a recently disused area which has grown to become known as the South Core. Made up of former rail and port lands, the district has been almost fully built out over the past dozen or so years, with densities that rival the established city core to the north. Bounded by the rail corridor to the north, Toronto Harbour to the south, Simcoe Street to the west and Yonge to the East, the new buildings of the South Core are filling a massive gap in Toronto's Downtown with thousands of new residents as well as new retail, office and hotel space. Today we take a look at some of the recent and current projects bringing even more life to the street in this burgeoning part of the city.

Toronto's South Core viewed from the roof of the Queens Quay parking garage, image by Jack Landau

Residential density in the form of condominium towers have been a major part of the area's growth, and the newest kids on the block are Lanterra's Ïce Condos and Infinity by The Conservatory Group. The architectsAlliance-designed 67 and 57-storey towers of Ïce are currently the tallest buildings in the neighbourhood, and since topping off, the towers now make an impressive contribution to the overall city skyline.

ICE Condos towering above surrounding high-rises, image by Jack Landau

This ICE complex also features a yet-to-be-built office component by Cadillac Fairview, which is to rise from the southwest corner of York and Bremner once lead tenants have been secured. The site of the future office tower is currently occupied by one of the area's sole remaining surface parking lots, as well as a construction staging area for the Ïce Condos towers, visible in the image below. 

ICE Condos' podium and staging area, site of a future office tower, image by Jack Landau

To the west of Ïce Condos, the recently built third and fourth phases of Conservatory Group's Infinity have added several hundred additional condominium units to the area. Designed by E.I Richmond Architects (since renamed to Richmond Architects), the pioneering first and second phases of this development preceded the ongoing nearby building boom, and led the way for many of the surrounding developments and their ultra-high densities.

Infinity viewed from the roof of the Queens Quay parking garage, image by Jack Landau

To the north of Ïce and Infinity, the Southcore Financial Centre and Delta Hotel complex is easily one of the most significant developments in the area. Consisting of two office towers and a four-star hotel, the block-long property is one of the major employers in the area, and once the hotel opens on November 27th, it will significantly add to the vitality at Simcoe and Bremner.

Southcore Financial Centre and Delta Hotel Toronto, image by Jack Landau

The hotel sits in a tourist hotspot near the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Ripley's Aquarium and the Air Canada Centre, and will surely attract business travelers, convention-goers, tourists, visiting athletes, and locals looking for an urban staycation. 

Delta Hotel Toronto, image by Jack Landau

There is also plenty going on south of the Gardiner Expressway, including two major developments under construction; Tridel's Ten York and MenkesSun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences. Ten York, which had its tower crane installed just last week, will rise 68 storeys into the Toronto skyline. The Wallman Architects-designed condominium tower is being built on a wedge-shaped chunk of land formerly occupied by a surface parking and impound lot. Ten York's design reflects the shape of the site, and will appear as a towering flatiron-shape when viewed from the west. In addition to the added residents, Ten York will add life to the area with retail space occupying a corner of the ground floor.

A tower crane was recently erected at the site of Ten York, image by Jack Landau

Just across York Street to the east, construction is well under way at the site of Menkes' Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences. The 35-storey office tower now sits just over seven storeys tall, while the 66 and 62-storey Harbour Plaza Residences are not yet rising past the top of the podium. This complex will add quite a bit of retail to the South Core, including the downtown anchor location for Target, the American big-box retailer.

Menkes' Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences, image by Jack Landau

To the south of Harbour Plaza Residences, Oxford Properties' RBC WaterPark Place III has added 930,000 square feet of office space to the area, as well as a shot of life in the form of several new stores and eating establishments to serve the hundreds of new employees.

RBC WaterPark Place III, image by Jack Landau

Building a high-rise district of this magnitude doesn't come without its inherent problems, especially one with the barriers to easy pedestrian flow that the transportation corridors here present. The rail corridor and the Gardiner Expressway and its off-ramps present major hurdles between the waterfront and the surrounding city, and connectivity remains a bit of an issue for residents and workers commuting on foot. Things are getting better though as a recently-opened southerly extension of the PATH network links RBC WaterPark Place III to the Air Canada Centre and beyond. More links are coming.

New PATH extension linking the Air Canada Centre with RBC WaterPark Place III, image by Jack Landau

Another addition to the PATH network is currently under construction in the area. Bridging over Simcoe just north of Bremner, this extension will link the Delta Hotel and Southcore Financial Centre with the existing SkyWalk between the Convention Centre and Union Station.

PATH bridge linking the Delta with the SkyWalk, image by Jack Landau

There is still more to come in the South Core district. Planned for another surface parking lot on Bay Street is the much-talked about 45 Bay redevelopment

Rendering of the 45 Bay Redevelopment, image courtesy of Hines/Ivanhoe Cambridge

There is still one more surface parking lot in the area without an announced redevelopment plan, but the Toronto Port Authority does plan on redeveloping the lot at 60 Harbour Street, and incorporating the historic Harbour Commission Building into a mixed-use office and commercial tower there too.

We will keep an eye on the continuing growth south of the tracks, updating our readers on the many projects under way in the area as they progress. In the meantime, you can learn more about the developments mentioned in this article by visiting our dataBase files, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out each project's associated Forum threads, or leave a comment using the space provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  American Standard (part of Lixil Canada Inc.), architectsAlliance, bcIMC, Brandon Communications, Cadillac Fairview, Cecconi Simone, Champalimaud Design, Conservatory Group, Corban and Goode, DTAH, EllisDon, Enwave Energy Corporation, GWL Realty Advisors, HOOPP, II BY IV DESIGN, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Jablonsky, Ast and Partners, Janet Rosenberg + Studio, KPMB Architects, Kramer Design Associates Limited, Lanterra Developments, LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Menkes Developments, Milborne Group, Montana Steele, NAK Design Group, NAK Design Strategies, Oxford Properties Group, Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, PRO-BEL, Quest Window Systems, Richmond Architects, RJC Engineers, Stephenson Engineering, Studio Munge, Sweeny &Co Architects Inc., The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Tridel, Trillium Architectural Products, Wallman Architects, WSP, WZMH Architects