As we near the end of our Growth to Watch For series for 2016, we have finally reached the heart of Toronto, as this edition explores developments happening in the Downtown Core. Encompassing an area roughly bordered by Gerrard Street to the north, Victoria Street to the east, the rail corridor to the south, and University Avenue to the west, the downtown area is the most urban and densely built area in the city, with iconic landmarks and soaring skyscrapers that define the Toronto skyline.

Despite the forest of towers already occupying this region, many more are fighting to join the crowd as the rapid evolution of the city continues. Moving north to south through the Downtown Core, we have compiled a list of all projects that are currently under construction, proposals that are working their way through planning, and rumblings of future growth that may be coming soon!

Starting at the intersection of Bay and Gerrard, KingSett Capital is looking to add to an existing complex known as LuCliff Place which combines an office tower at 700 Bay Street with rental apartments at 77 Gerrard Street West. The original proposal sought to add a 45-storey residential tower to the west side of the lot at Elizabeth Street where a two-storey podium now exists. City Planning had a concern, amongst others, that the tall new tower would impose itself behind Toronto City Hall on too many Nathan Phillips Square vistas, so looked for changes to the plan.

700 Bay Expansion Original Proposal, image retrieved from City of Toronto Planning Documents

Instead, the developer and Quadrangle Architects worked out a new plan, seen below, that puts a 31-storey residential tower on the west side of the complex, adds 4 storeys to the top of the existing rental building, and adds 8 storeys to the top of the office tower. Looking to add 222 new rental units to the property, the project was approved at the OMB last fall, but there is no word as to when KingSett will proceed to site plan approvals and construction.

700 Bay Expansion Approved Plan, image retrieved from City of Toronto Planning Documents

Moving east across Bay Street, a new residential tower is currently under construction at 43 Gerrard WestGWL Realty Advisors' 43-storey tower designed by IBI Group Architects will add a further 594 rental units to the area. Excavation has wrapped up, with work now progressing on the below-grade levels, so look for the tower to hit grade later this year.

Below-grade levels of 43 Gerrard under construction in early March, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Following in the footsteps of Aura, the intersection of Yonge and Gerrard is poised to become a cluster of some of Toronto's tallest towers with a pair of massive proposals currently working their way through planning. The first is the 33 Gerrard West Redevelopment, a jaw-dropping proposal by Great Eagle Holdings that would replace the existing T-shaped 26-storey Eaton Chelsea Hotel with three mixed-use towers of 50, 75, and 86 storeys. Designed by architectsAlliance, the complex is comprised of a 6-storey office component, a 300-room hotel, and roughly 1,900 residential units with parkland interspersed between. As it is still in the early stages of planning, the proposal is subject to change, but we will be following it closely with any updates as the design evolves.

Rendering of 33 Gerrard West Redevelopment, image courtesy of Great Eagle Holdings.

On the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard, another huge development is proposing greater density for the intersection with KingSett Capital and Cresford Developments' 385 Yonge Street (now branded as YSL). In the original design by Quadrangle Architects, the proposal is comprised of two towers of 73 and 62 storey with 1,106 residential units, connected by a sky bridge at the 51st and 52nd floors, while retail and office space would be found in a 9-storey podium below. As this project is still in the early planning stages, and as Cresford has recently signed on to develop, the bold design may change significantly. We will be sure to keep you updated of any news as it arises.

Rendering of YSL (385 Yonge), image courtesy of KingSett Capital and Cresford.

Moving south now to the intersection of Yonge and Edward Street, Lifetime Developments is proposing a 35-storey condo tower on an empty site at 20 Edward where World's Biggest Bookstore used to be located. Designed by architectsAlliance, the project would add ground-level retail and 629 new residential units across from the Atrium on Bay.

Rendering of 20 Edward, image courtesy of Lifetime Developments.

Heading west, a pair of potential development sites along Edward Street could see some more density added to the busy area. The surface parking lot across from the bus station is comprised of two properties - 70 Edward, at the corner of Bay Street, and 100 Edward, at the corner of Elizabeth. A re-zoning application was submitted a couple years ago for 100 Edward Street, which proposed two residential towers of 19 and 22 storeys, but there has been no recent movement on the development since. Hopefully some news will surface in the near future about these two lots, but until such time as the coach terminal moves, we may not see redevelopment action here.

One of Toronto's more interesting construction projects is currently underway at the northwest corner of University and Dundas with Amexon's Residences of 488 University Avenue. The project involves the recladding of the existing 18-storey International Style Global House office building, while added structural cross-bracing is being installed to support an additional 37 storeys of residential units that will be constructed on top. Designed by Core Architects, the stripping and recladding of the building's facade is progressing, with installation of the new structural members simultaneously taking place, presenting a rather interesting sight for passersby.

Recladding underway at the Residences of 488 University Avenue, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Across the street from 488 University, a proposal by Davpart would see another residential tower added atop an existing office building at 481 University on the northeast corner of Dundas and University. Designed by B+H Architects, the 55-storey glass tower would rise above the renovated 10-storey and 9-storey historic office buildings on the site. The plans were approved at the City Council meeting of August 2014, but so far there has been no announcement of the redevelopment moving forward.

Rendering of 481 University, image courtesy of Davpart.

Further east along the Dundas corridor, three potential developments have been sleeping as of late, with no recent news on whether or not anything will materialize. The Atrium on Bay has proposed to add an additional five storeys to the existing building (already approved by City Council) but does not seem to be moving quickly with that, while the empty lot at 335 Yonge at the corner of Gould Street, currently home to a pop-up market, has been the subject of much speculation for some time now, with no concrete proposals brought forth in recent years. Further east, an historic building stands empty and seemingly abandoned at 38-40 Dundas East at the corner of Victoria Street, with no recent word on any development proposals for the plot of prime real estate.

On the southern edge of Yonge-Dundas Square, HNR Properties' Velocity at the Square (formerly known as HNR Dundas Square Tower) has topped off at its height of 40 storeys. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the tower incorporates two existing historic buildings on the property, and will add 245 rental units to the popular neighbourhood.

Construction progressing on Velocity at the Square, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Major renovations at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre are nearing the end of their multi-phase project, with the newly refinished and greatly enlarged H&M store opening just last month along with Canada's first Saks Fifth Avenue store. Redevelopment of the former Sears space is still underway, with Nordstrom (and potentially other stores) to open on September 16, 2016, while another aspect of the project proposes to replace the bridge spanning Queen Street connecting to the Hudson's Bay and Saks building.

The rehabilitation of Toronto's beloved Massey Hall is now underway at the historic music venue, with underground levels of the new addition to the south being constructed. The expansion to the building, designed by KPMB Architects, will feature new much-needed back-of-house spaces, while the restoration and upgrading of the existing building is expected to take place over the course of the next seven years.

Adjacent to Massey Hall, MOD Development's Massey Tower Condos is reaching grade level as the landmark project is prepares to take shape along the busy stretch of Yonge. Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, the bold 60-storey tower features the preserved historic Canadian Bank of Commerce Building at its base. Look for this tower to rise into the sky later this year.

Below-grade levels under construction at Massey Tower Condos, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Jumping down to Queen Street, the expansion of St. Michael's Hospital is progressing with the new 17-storey addition reaching grade level at the corner of Queen and Victoria. The new tower, designed by NORR Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects, will greatly expand the capacity of the hospital's facilities, and also includes a renovation that will double the capacity of the existing Emergency Department.

Construction progressing at St. Michael's Hospital expansion, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Moving west along Queen, Cadillac Fairview made some waves a couple years ago when it announced plans for a 65-storey 580-unit rental tower at 2 Queen West, attached to the Eaton Centre on the northwest corner of Queen and Yonge. The application for the Zeidler Partnership Architects-designed tower has since been withdrawn, but it has not dispelled speculation that a major development could be in the works for this site at some time in the future.

Rendering of 2 Queen West, image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview.

Another project by Cadillac Fairview that will have a large impact on the area is the re-cladding of 401 Bay, known as the Simpson's Tower, which will see the iconic 1960s tower stripped of much of its concrete and replaced with a new glass and spandrel curtain wall. Designed by Pellow / WZMH Architects, the highly visible building is set to begin construction within the next few months. A recent UrbanToronto article asked if the renovations that are planned here will destroy the building's architectural integrity.

Scaffolding starting to be erected in preparation for recladding at 401 Bay, image by Forum contributor kris.

Just across the street, the revamp of Nathan Phillips Square is nearly complete. The multi-year project, headed by Perkins + Will and Plant Architect, saw the addition of the snack stand and multi-use amphitheatre, among other upgrades. Still to come is a proposed two-storey restaurant in the southwest corner, but no date has been set for when this final phase will materialize, while other planned improvements seem to have been abandoned.

Rendering of the proposed restaurant in Nathan Phillips Square, image courtesy of Plant Architect.

Northwest of City Hall, much anticipation surrounds the proposed courthouse complex that is slated for the empty parking lot on Armoury Street. An archaeological dig recently wrapped up on the site, and planning of this complicated development is under way. While design principles for the building will be discussed at an upcoming Toronto Design Review Panel meeting, images of the building's proposed exterior are not expected for several months.

Archaeological dig wrapping up at the site of the new courthouses, image by Jack Landau.

Another project highly visible from Nathan Phillips Square is INDX Condos, rising just to the south along Sheppard Street. Lifetime and CentreCourt's 54-storey tower has now topped off, with completion of the building expected in late 2016. The Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects-designed development will add 798 condo units to help diversify the Downtown Core, bringing more after-hours life.

Construction progressing at INDX Condos, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

One cannot view INDX Condos without noticing the other tower rising by its side, as Oxford Properties' dramatic EY Tower has nearly topped off on Adelaide Street. (Strangely enough, the perspective below completely hides the similarly sized INDX Condos behind it!) Perhaps one of the more exciting projects in the city with its angled form and heritage base, the 40-storey office tower is designed by New York-based Kohn Pederson Fox Associates with local firm WZMH Architects, and is expected for completion in 2017.

Construction progressing on the EY Tower, image by Forum contributor saynotofaux.

A block and a half to the east, Brookfield Properties' Bay Adelaide East tower is slated for completion this year, as the finishing touches are currently being put it. The 44-storey tower, designed by KPMB Architects and Adamson Associates, adds plenty of new office space to the bustling Financial District. With the impending completion of this phase, we can now turn our attention to the proposed third and final tower of the complex, the 32-storey Bay Adelaide North, with high hopes that a solid proposal will emerge in the near future once a major tenant is secured.

Construction nearly complete on Bay Adelaide East, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Moving east along Richmond, site preparation is underway with excavation set to begin on Great Gulf's Yonge + Rich Condos on the corner of Richmond and Victoria Streets. The 45-storey architectsAlliance-designed tower will bring 669 new condo units to the Downtown Core.

Site clearing to prepare for excavation at Yonge + Rich Condos, image by Forum contributor stjames2queenwest.

Hopping down to King Street, Carttera recently announced plans for a 19-storey office tower at 65-75 King East, adjacent to the King Edward Hotel. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the commercial building proposal comes after an earlier 47-storey residential tower proposal for the site was abandoned by another group. The Carttera proposal is currently working its way through the planning process.

Rendering of 65-75 King East, image courtesy of Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects and Carttera

On the corner of King and Yonge, work is finally wrapping up on the restoration of the historic building at One King West. The majority of the scaffolding came down a few months ago revealing the beautifully restored Beaux-Arts facade, with work expected to finish up this year on the landmark building.

Just nearby to the southeast, another skyscraper is reaching into the sky as Concert Properties' 88 Scott is now nearly halfway up to its full 58-storey height, with stone, glass, and precast cladding now being installed on the lower levels. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the distinctive 525-unit condo tower will likely top off later this year, taking its place in Toronto's downtown skyline. The podium at 20 Wellington East will include retail at ground level, and office space above.

Construction progressing on 88 Scott, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Southeast of 88 Scott, one of Toronto's iconic public spaces is in the midst of a makeover with the Berczy Park Revitalization. Set to become perhaps one of the city's quirkiest parks, the Claude Cormier + Associés design will add a dog fountain—literally—to the triangular space, complete with new landscaping and planting. Construction is underway with completion expected later this year.

Work underway on the Berczy Park Revitalization, image by Forum contributor Roundabout.

Moving down Front Street to Toronto's seemingly never-ending project, the 58-storey L Tower is hopefully wrapping up construction this year. Projected to be completed for the last couple years, the crane still remains erected on the unique curved tower, despite the building having already taken its place in the skyline for some time now. The crane remains in place to hoist pieces for a custom made derrick needed for constructing the L Tower's Building Maintenance Unit. Meanwhile, work still continues on finishing touches at the base of the development by Cityzen Development Group, Fernbrook Homes, and Castlepoint Numa, which is starchitect Daniel Libeskind's second project in Toronto, in partnership with Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects.

Work on the L Tower is nearly complete, image by Forum contributor drum118.

Next door to L Tower, Backstage on The Esplanade is gearing up for completion this year, as the 36-storey condo tower by Cityzen, Fernbrook, and Castlepoint Numa is receiving its finishing touches. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the new tower is helping to transform the intersection of Yonge and The Esplanade.

Construction nearing completion in early February, image by Craig White.

Jumping west to Front and University Avenue, Cadillac Fairview made waves a couple years ago with an ultramodern proposal for a 54-storey office tower at 160 Front West designed by Chicago-based AS + GG Architecture. Despite being approved for construction, news on the development has all but dried up as the tower awaits a major tenant.

Rendering of 160 Front Street West, image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview.

Moving south half a block down Simcoe Street, a proposal by Allied REIT for the Union Centre would see a curvaceous 48-storey office tower erected just north of the tracks. Designed by Sweeny & Co Architects, this project is another tower that was given zoning approval more than a year ago, but which also awaits a major tenant now. Developer Allied, in the meantime, is pushing other of their projects in advance of this one.

Rendering of Union Centre, image courtesy of Allied.

Across York Street to the east, work continues on the Union Station Revitalization Project, as Toronto's central transit hub is in the midst of a major makeover. Overseen by NORR ArchitectsFGMDA Architects, and Zeidler Partnership Architects, restoration of the historic station continues, while work is progressing on an entirely new retail level below grade, as well a brand new Bay Concourse area for GO Transit. Completion of the project is not expected for another few years, but despite the pains of the invasive construction on the already congested station, already completed aspects of the station promise that it will be well worth the wait.

Restoration continues on Union Station, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

Wrapping up our tour of downtown is an exciting proposal that literally bridges the tracks into our final upcoming Growth to Watch For story on the waterfront, as Hines and Ivanhoe Cambridge's Bay Park Centre is turning heads of late with a pair of 48- and 54-storey office towers straddling the rail corridor. The two Wilkinson Eyre Architects-designed buildings will be connected by an elevated park bridging the tracks, while a new GO bus station will be relocated into the base of the south building. We will be following this project closely as it works its way through the planning process.

Rendering of Bay Park Centre, image courtesy of Hines and Ivanhoe Cambridge.

That wraps up our overview of development in the Downtown Core. Stay tuned for our next instalment as we explore development along Toronto's waterfront, and feel free to check out all of our previous editions of the Growth to Watch For series. Want to find out more about the buildings coming to this area of Toronto? Check out the dataBase files linked below, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

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