On a warm and sunny afternoon earlier today, City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam led a ceremonial ground breaking event heralding the beginning of the end for the saga surrounding the vacant lot at 11 Wellesley Street West. Together with Lanterra Developments co-founders Mark Mandelbaum and Barry Fenton, Councillor Wong-Tam planted a tree and drove a shovel into the ground to start off both the construction of the 60-storey Wellesley on the Park condo tower, and the design of the adjacent 1.5-acre public green space.

Mark Mandelbaum (left), Kristyn Wong-Tam (middle), and Barry Fenton (right) perform the tree planting, image by Jack Landau

In an animated and passionate speech, Councillor Wong-Tam heaped praise upon the community activists as well as Lanterra Developments for their determination to establish a public park on the vacant land. Community members in attendance were honoured by Wong-Tam and Lanterra for their perseverance and influence in the design process, which led to the much needed new green space being included in the proposed development. Had it not been for the community and Lanterra, Wong-Tam declared, we would not be where we are today.

Councillor Wong-Tam poses with Lanterra representatives, volunteers, and community members at the ceremony, image by Jack Landau

The ceremony marks the end to a turbulent history for the vacant property spanning nearly three decades. In the 1980s, the land was part of a package assembled by the provincial government for the construction of a new ballet and opera house designed by Moshe Safdie. During the recession in 1991, the project was cancelled, and despite one other proposal to develop it, the site has remained empty ever since. In 2012, the valuable plot of land was put up for sale, and despite efforts of Councillor Wong-Tam and the City to negotiate a deal for its acquisition, it was ultimately purchased by Lanterra for a reported 65 million dollars. Since then, negotiations between Lanterra, community members, and the City have resulted in the present design of a single condo tower and a large public park. The proposal has been described as a 'win-win' for all parties involved.

Wellesley on the Park condos, designed by KPMB Architects for Lanterra Developments

The Wellesley on the Park development, designed by KPMB Architects and Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, features a sleek tower atop a stepped podium containing retail, office space, and amenities. The tower will boast a dynamic, undulating facade created by curved balconies circling the building. The 742-unit development will be located in the northeast corner of the site, in order to maximize the amount of sunlight exposure in the adjacent park. Surrounded by open space, the condos are guaranteed to have a clear, unobstructed view to the south and west.

Preliminary rendering of the park area to be designed by NAK Design Strategies

Wellesley on the Park complements a host of new developments in the area, including Lanterra's nearby projects at 955 Bay Street (The Britt Condos) and at 501 Yonge Street (TeaHouse Condominiums). Construction on the tower is estimated to be completed in 2018, and while the public park is just beginning its design phases at NAK Design Strategies, the local community can breathe easy knowing that Toronto's newest green space will be soon to follow.

Additional information and renderings of Wellesley on the Park can be found in our dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out Wellesley on the Park's associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the section provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  architectsAlliance, BVGlazing Systems, Dov Capital Corporation, IBI Group, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., KPMB Architects, Lanterra Developments, McIntosh Perry, Milborne Group, Montana Steele, NAK Design Strategies, Studio Munge