Our final installment of this year's Growth to Watch For series takes us along Toronto's central waterfront, an area that has perhaps seen the most drastic change in character over the past decade. Once a sprawling post-industrial wasteland, development in the 21st century is transforming the waterfront into a vibrant community home to thousands of residents, thriving commercial districts, and attractions for tourists and Torontonians alike.
The development of Toronto's waterfront shows no signs of slowing down, with major projects planned all along this tract of coveted land. Stretching from Fort York in the west to the Port Lands in the east, we have compiled a list of all projects south of the rail corridor that are currently under construction, approved, and proposed, giving a snapshot of the drastic changes in store for one of Toronto's most exciting development zones.
Between the Rail Corridor and the Gardiner
Beginning in the west, a pair of public-oriented projects are looking to improve Fort York and the surrounding areas. First, major landscaping work is set to begin in 2016 around the award-winning Fort York Visitors Centre, headed by the Fort York Foundation and designed by Vancouver-based Patkau Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects. As well, work is set to begin on the long-awaited Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge designed by Pedelta and DTAH and to be built by Dufferin Construction, which will provide a much-needed connection over the rail corridor from Stanley Park to the north to Fort York and the waterfront to the south.
Moving to the northeast corner of Bathurst and Fort York Boulevard, the City of Toronto has grand plans for Mouth of the Creek Park, a new community-centred commemorative public space providing recreational amenities for nearby Concord CityPlace as well as connecting to historic Fort York. Designed by Public Work with consultant ERA Architects, the park has some intriguing features that play heavily on the heritage theme of the area. No date has been scheduled yet for construction to start, but hopefully shovels will start digging within the next year so.
Three projects are looking to round out Concord Adex's fledgling CityPlace neighbourhood, a sprawling community of condo towers sandwiched between the Gardiner and the rail corridor, stretching from Bathurst Street in the west past Spadina Avenue in the east. The majority of blocks have been developed at CityPlace, but a couple remain waiting to complete the new community. The first of these blocks, located at Bathurst and Housey Streets, is comprised of the 30-storey Forward Condos and 18-storey Newton Condos that are currently under construction and reaching grade level, as the Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects-designed towers are aiming for a 2017 opening.
The final block of Concord Adex's City Place is Block 22, the current location of Concord Adex's presentation centre at the corner of Spadina and Bremner, which is planned to be the site of the grandest of all the condo towers at CityPlace as a final statement closing the decade-long development. The current proposal calls for twin towers of 75 and 64 storeys designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, though a rumoured redesign may alter the look of these buildings. Stay tuned for more news on this final piece of the neighbourhood as updates become available.
With a growing city comes the need for new infrastructure, which is a need that Toronto Hydro is addressing with the Clare R. Copeland Transformer Station. Located at the highly visible corner of Bremner and Rees Streets adjacent to the landmark Roundhouse building, the IBI Group-designed transformer station is currently under construction and will provide a reliable electricity supply to the Downtown Core when it becomes operational, likely in late 2016 or 2017.
Located at the base of the CN Tower, one of Toronto's newest attractions is the wildly popular Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. The aquarium has far exceeded expectations for attendance since they opened, which has sparked conversations on future expansions to the B+H Architects-designed building. No concrete proposals have come forward yet, but it would come as no surprise if the aquarium soon announces its intentions to grow.
Work is wrapping up on two of Toronto's most iconic new skyscrapers, as construction on the base of Ice Condos at York and Lake Shore is aiming for completion later this year. The development by Lanterra and Cadillac Fairview features two curving architectsAlliance-designed towers of 67 and 57 storeys with angled columns at their base. Final cladding, landscaping, and public art will all be completed here this year.
Immediately to the north of Ice Condos, Cadillac Fairview is looking to add another office building to the South Core district with the 32-storey 16 York tower, proposed for the surface parking lot at Bremner and York Streets. Designed by architectsAlliance, the development is currently searching for tenants, with no public date for construction to start.
Fleet/Lake Shore/Harbour Street Corridor
A major announcement late last year introduced one of Toronto's more exciting public spaces with the Under Gardiner project, a redesign of the leftover spaces underneath the Gardiner Expressway stretching 1.75 kilometres from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue. Funded by a record-breaking donation from Judy and Wil Matthews, the project is headed by Waterfront Toronto and designed by Public Work with Greenberg Consultants. The project will create a pedestrian and cycling trail along the length of the Gardiner complete with a series of engaging and programmable public spaces to showcase Toronto's lively music, arts, and food scenes with a community atmosphere. Construction on the project is set to begin this summer, with Phase 1 aiming for completion in 2017. Public engagement has begun with the Reclaim the Name campaign, where the public will vote to choose the name of the new park.
Phase 3 of The Onni Group's Fort York development is the Local at Fort York, which is currently nearing completion with an expected opening later this year. Designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, the 13-storey condo building rises alongside the southern edge of the Gardiner, adjacent to historic Fort York.
Just to the south, the final phase of The Onni Group's development is the Fortune at Fort York, a proposed 32-storey condo tower designed by IBI Group. The building is currently in sales, and is scheduled for a hearing at the OMB in November 2016.
Moving east to the intersection of Bathurst and Lake Shore, a major project is seeing the redevelopment of an iconic heritage property with West Block Est. 1928 and The LakeShore. Headed by Loblaw Companies, Choice Properties, and Wittington Properties, the project would see two towers of 37 and 41 storeys added to the historic 1928-built Loblaw Groceterias building, which is being restored and incorporated as part of the podium. Designed by architectsAlliance and Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects with ERA Architects, demolition is currently underway on site with excavation scheduled to begin later this year.
Further infrastructure upgrades are slated for the South Core with replacement of the York-Bay-Yonge exit ramp from the Gardiner Expressway. The circular off-ramp occupying a block at the corner of York and Harbour Streets will be removed, which will greatly improve the pedestrian environment of the area, and will be replaced with a new offramp to Harbour Street at Lower Simcoe Street. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in 2016.
The unofficial award for building where no one else thought it possible goes to Tridel's Ten York Street Condos, a 65-storey tower rising on a triangular-shaped wedge of land sandwiched between the Gardiner Expressway and the Yonge-Bay-York offramp. The wedge-shaped tower designed by Wallman Architects is currently under construction and has reached the top of its podium - now poking up above the Gardiner - with a topping off of the tower expected next year.
Across the street from Ten York, the Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences are nearing completion, as the development by Menkes and HOOPP is adding mixed use commercial, residential and retail spaces to the burgeoning South Core. The project consists of a sleek 35-storey office tower by Sweeny & Co Architects at One York, and a pair of towers of 62 and 66 storeys featuring unique balcony treatments designed by architectsAlliance at 90 Harbour Street. Look for construction to wrap up on the office tower this summer, with the residences aiming for a 2017 opening.
Just to the east at the corner of Bay and Harbour Streets, a proposal at 30 Bay would see a 45-storey office building by Oxford Properties constructed on a site it would share with the historic headquarters of Ports Toronto. Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, little is known of the proposal at this point, as it has yet to submit an application to the City or secure a major tenant. Stay tuned for any updates as they surface.
Queens Quay Corridor
Heading down to Queens Quay, a flurry of development activity along the waterfront is looking to transform this important stretch of land. Beginning in the west, Retirement Concepts via Coal Harbour Properties is pursuing its Maple Leaf Quay Redevelopment that would see a third rental apartment tower added to the site rising to 29 storeys, while revitalizing the ground realm and improving the water access. The first phase of the project is already complete with the recladding of the two existing 21-storey rental towers. Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the development is currently working its way through the planning process.
After a high-profile competition last year, it was announced by Waterfront Toronto that KPMB Architects, West8, and Greenberg Consultants were selected as the winners to redesign the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park. Design development continues on the proposal, which would see a much-needed revamp of the existing terminal with added green space and improved amenities on the important plot of land. Hopefully more updates will surface on this exciting project sometime this year.
One of the largest proposals on the table in Toronto is the 1-7 Yonge Redevelopment by Pinnacle International, a complex of five towers proposed for the Toronto Star Lands that would feature the tallest tower in Canada. Comprising three condo towers of 95, 85, and 65 storeys, and two office towers of 35 and 22 storeys, the massive landmark development designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects would have a huge impact on the Lower Yonge Precinct, adding nearly 3,000 residences and over one million square feet of new office space. We will be following this project closely as it continues its way through the planning process, so check back soon for updates!
Across the street to the south, the development of Pier 27 by Cityzen and Fernbrook is continuing with the proposed 35-storey Tower at Pier 27. The dramatic, edgy tower of rotated balconies is designed by architectsAlliance, and is currently in sales with no set date of when it will be breaking ground. In the meantime, landscaping is continuing around Waterlink at Pier 27, the recently completed initial phases at what has become one of the more intriguing waterfront developments along the East Bayfront.
The Lower Yonge Precinct is a district bounded by the Gardiner Expressway to the north, Jarvis Street to the east, Queens Quay to the south, and Yonge Street to the west that refers to a series of underused plots of land that are earmarked for redevelopment under the planning guidance of Waterfront Toronto. The westernmost lot is the aforementioned 1-7 Yonge Redevelopment of the Toronto Star Lands, while the next plot of land up for redevelopment is the LCBO Lands, the middle lot of the Precinct. It is expected that the sale of the LCBO Lands by the Province of Ontario to a developer will be announced in the coming months.
Just to the east, Toronto's newest neighbourhood is beginning to take shape with work continuing on the East Bayfront community. Building off the success of projects like Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Common, the Corus Building, and George Brown's Lakefront Campus, a series of residential, commercial, and community projects are looking to continue developing the former industrial lands. Aided by the (unfunded) promise of an East Bayfront LRT along Queens Quay, this area is poised to become a thriving community over the next decade.
Proposed for the parking lot just north of the Corus Building, Waterfront Toronto and Menkes Developments are planning a Waterfront Innovation Centre, a unique commercial development designed by Sweeny & Co Architects. While a redesign is rumoured for the building—which is still in its early stages of design—the developers are searching for tenants to add more employment opportunities in the up-and-coming neighbourhood.
On the north side of Queens Quay, construction on the below-grade levels is progressing at Daniels Waterfront - City of the Arts by The Daniels Corporation. The mixed-use development with a focus on artistic and creative industries would see a 14-storey office complex by RAW Design built on the southern portion of the site. This area also includes a northward extension of Sugar Beach Park. The northern portion of the site would see the construction of a pair of residential towers designed by Giannone Petricone Associates. Demolition of the existing warehouse is currently underway on the northern portion, with excavation likely beginning mid-this year.
Just to the east, the next block of the East Bayfront community at 215 Lake Shore Boulevard on the corner of Sherbourne Street is awaiting an announcement of plans, as word of a potential multi-phase development by Cityzen, Greybrook, and Castlepoint Numa broke a couple years ago. There has been no movement since, but we are hoping that a proposal will materialize in the near future.
On the south side of Queens Quay, just east of George Brown College, a pair of mid-rise condo projects by Tridel and Hines are under construction along the waterfront. Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, the 13-storey Aqualina is now rising above ground level, with completion on the project expected in 2017.
On the opposite side of Queens Quay from Aqualina and Aquavista, starchitect Moshe Safdie's 44-storey Monde tower is under construction, with excavation well underway. Headed by Great Gulf and designed in conjunction with local firm Quadrangle Architects, the condo tower is adjacent to the highly-regarded Sherbourne Common, and will add 552 new units to the emerging East Bayfront neighbourhood.
The final piece of the central waterfront is its largest one, comprised of three adjacent sites totalling 13.5 acres south of the Gardiner running east from Parliament to the Don River. To the west, Waterfront Toronto has a piece by the Parliament Street Slip, Castlepoint Numa is developing plans for the site that includes the grain silos, while the largest property is owned by a consortium of companies that have dubbed themselves 3C Waterfront. Owned by Cityzen, Castlepoint Numa, and New York-based Continental Ventures Realty, the developers have enlisted internationally-renowned firm Foster + Partners along with local heavy-hitters KPMB Architects and architectsAlliance, as well as landscape architects Claude Cormier + Associés for the project. With that star-studded line-up of developers and architects waiting to get to the drawing board, no firm proposals have come forward yet for this site. Hopefully concrete renderings will surface soon, but amongst other factors, the developers have been waiting for today's final decision on the re-alignment of the east Gardiner before proceeding.
To the east is Toronto's Port Lands. Much is being planned for that area, but it's still a ways off before excavations begin and concrete and rebar and parkland result, so for 2016, this concludes our Growth to Watch For series. There is no shortage of developments to track across the city, as the building boom in Toronto shows no signs of losing steam in the foreseeable future. Feel free to check out all of our previous editions of the Growth to Watch For series, and of course we will continue with daily updates of the most interesting development news on our front pages.
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.