In the decade since the opening of the Distillery District back in 2003, the eastern stretches of downtown Toronto have been rapidly redeveloping. Former warehouses and factories are being transformed into lofts, while new condos towers continue to sprout out of old surface lots and brown fields, all with the effect of returning vibrancy to an area which has been relatively dormant since its industrial heyday half a century ago. Hence, in this edition of our Growth to Watch For series we will take a look at the most recent projects under construction and in planning in the East of Downtown, from along Sherbourne to the Don Valley, and between the Gardiner and Bloor.

Distillery District by night, image by Marcus Mitanis

River Street Corridor

Our journey begins at the south-eastern end of the neighbourhood, at the site of last summer's, 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Athlete's Village, set to open to the public as the Canary District in the middle of the year. One condo development itself will be known as Canary District, with the second known as Canary Park. Both are designed by KPMB Architects for DundeeKilmer, and both are currently having their interiors refinished to suit the owners of the suites. 

Canary District Condos, image by Jack Landau

The instant neighbourhood covers a site which spans from Cherry St just east of the Distillery District, to Corktown Common Park at the elbow of the DVP. Along with the initial 808 market units, the Canary District will also initially include 253 affordable housing units ranging from flats to townhouses. In addition to this, an 82,000 square foot YMCA will be joined by a 175,000 square foot satellite campus residence of George Brown College.

Gymnasium at Cooper Koo Family YMCA, Canary District, image by Jack Landau

George Brown College residence, Canary District, image by Jack Landau

The Canary District's opening will also bring with it a host of new retail options, including, The Running Room, Think Fitness Studio, Gears bike shop, and OpusGlow spa, bringing an active lifestyle flair to the area, along with popular restaurants and cafés, Dark Horse Espresso Bar, Pizza e Pazzi, and Tabule.

Northeast of the Canary Park condos at Lawren Harris Square, construction is underway at the 29-storey, Phase III of Urban Capital's River City Condos, designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architects. Once complete, Phase III will join the completed Phases I and II, while an upcoming Phase IV will eventually complete the River City quartet on another corner of Lawren Harris Square.

River City Condos Phase III build site, image by Forum member skycandy

Further north, at 77 River Street, between Dundas and Queen, a proposal dating to 2014 is in the works for two residential condo towers of 26 and 34 storeys to replace the current Salvation Army branch that now occupies the site. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects for TAS, the towers will dramatically change the streetscape, bringing high-rise density and scale to an otherwise largely low-rise neighbourhood. The development will include 578 units, and over 13,000 square metres of retail and office space across the podium levels of both towers.

77 River Street, Google Maps Screen Capture

Further up River, just south of Gerrard, plans are underway for the construction of the 35-storey, Oak Heights tower at 230 Oak St, designed by Sweeny & Co Architects for the Linwood Management Corporation, possibly as a rental building.

Oak Heights, north elevation, Sweeny & Co Architects

Parliament Corridor

Between River and Parliament Streets, construction continues on the Regent Park redevelopment, with the most recent opening having been the new Community Centre. Another new sporting facility to be completed at the site this year is the Regent Park Athletic Grounds, a multi-use outdoor facility with a hockey rink (already opened last year), a soccer and cricket pitch, and a basketball court.

Regent Park Community Centre, image by Forum member GeneralGrievance

Inside the new Community Centre, image by Forum member ChesterCopperpot

There are still several years of work ahead for The Daniels Corporation and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to complete the multi-phase redevelopment, with both market-priced and affordable housing units still coming on the last Phase 2 blocks, while work is now starting up on Phase 3 sites

Regent Park Phase II construction site in late 2015, image by Forum member salsa

Above at Block 24S, the latest excavation underway in Regent Park, will become a TCHC housing development. Meanwhile, immediately to the west where the crane can be seen, progress continues on The Bartholomew, the 13-storey, Quadrangle Architects-designed market-rate residential condo tower being built on Sackville Street by Daniels. Having recently reached the 5th floor above grade, construction of the new tower is moving along well. Seen below in an image from late February, the site appears in context with the Toronto skyline in the background. Representative of the latest thinking in urban planning, the Bartholomew is priced to attract a mixture of young professionals and families to the area, part of a philosophy that aims to bring together residents from across the income spectrum in the revitalized neighbourhood.

The Bartholomew construction site, image by Forum member skycandy

A fuller examination of Regent Park's redevelopment to date can be found in a dedicated story also published today on UrbanToronto, which can be found at this link.

A few blocks to the south of Regent Park, plans for a 22-storey condo and retail hub from development partners Great Gulf Homes and Hullmark are underway. Encompassing an entire block including properties at 48 through 54 Power Street and 113 through 135 Parliament Street, the U-shaped proposal is designed by Core Architects. Recently updated plans call for the a large 4-storey, mixed-use podium, upon which two interconnected 15-storey condo towers will rest, which will in turn be capped with an additional 7-storey block resting perpendicular to the two arms. Ground-level retail offerings are proposed to include a large grocery store as its anchor tenant, with room left over for a gym, spa, and other building amenities. Landscaping by Ferris + Associates would add a sizeable outdoor park across the road at 51 Power Street, with green space, trees, and benches.

Corner of Power and Adelaide, rendering courtesy of Great Gulf Homes

Across Parliament Street between Richmond and Adelaide, the 21-storey, East United Condos, designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for SigNature Communities, is now under construction. With frontage onto 93-95 Berkeley Street, the site will incorporate the 1906-built, red brick, Christie, Brown & Co. Stables building. Four century-old houses along Parliament have been demolished to make way for the development.

East United Condos, rendering courtesy of SigNature Communities

Nearby to the west at 55 Ontario Street, a development proposal called East Fifty-Five—a 24-storey Lamb Development Corp and Hyde Park Homes condo tower designed by architectsAlliance—is going to the OMB after the developers appealed due to the City's failure to render a decision on the proposal within the required timeframe. The City has concerns over the proposed density and height at this location. Meanwhile, demolition of a 4-storey red brick building dating to the 1930s/40s has been completed onsite.

East Fifty-Five, rendering courtesy of Lamb Developments

Down the street at 25 Ontario StreetFirst Gulf is considering its options. The previous owner of the site had proposed to build a 27-storey, Graziani + Corazza Architects-designed rental apartment building atop the two-storey 1940s-built Drug Trading Company Administrative Office building. The existing building, which features Art Moderne and Art Deco influences, would be largely retained in the earlier plan, and would house retail at-grade. Above the historic structure, a tower with a floorplate of 750 square metres was proposed to contain 324 residential units, ranging from studio to three-bedroom suites. The City had objections to the earlier plan, and a revised plan—which may propose office space instead—is expected in the near future.

25 Ontario Street, rendering courtesy of First Gulf

South, to 284 King St E., plans have been on hiatus for a mid-rise office building by Northwest Value Partners. In 2013 a design by Sweeny &Co Architects Inc. surfaced, but no details have emerged on this proposal since.

284 King St E., rendering courtesy of Northwest Value Partners

Meanwhile, just to the south across King Street, the new, 500,000 square foot Globe and Mail Centre (of which the eponymous newspaper and anchor tenant will take up an impressive 130,000 square feet), has recently topped off. The 17-storey, Diamond Schmitt Architects-designed office complex being developed by First Gulf will be completed next year. To be joined by Yellow Pages and other tenants, the new Globe and Mail Centre will significantly transform the downtown east side, bringing hundreds of workers and support staff to the immediate area. Recent construction photos give a sense of the size and scope of this project (which has frontages on both King and Front Streets), and provides a good hint as to the future of King Street East.

The Globe and Mail Centre, image by Forum member drum118

To the immediate east of the Globe and Mail Centre, however, plans for 250 Front St East—the current site of a Staples office supplies store—have been stalled since 2011. Few details have emerged about the project, other than that the proponent is developer Greenpark Homes.

Shelved (for the time being, at least) in the immediate vicinity are long-awaited plans for the construction of a Toronto branch of the NYC-based Gansevoort Hotels. Plans from 2011 involving a site at 60 Mill St placed a 34-storey Saucier + Perrotte Architects-designed, Cityscape-built condo and hotel tower rising from a former rack house on the north edge of the Distillery District.

Ganesvoort Hotel & Condos, rendering courtesy of Cityscape

Just over a block to the west on the southwest corner of Parliament and Front Streets is the site of the First Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada. Those buildings were famously burned down by the Americans in the War of 1812 and rebuilt in the 1820s. A Gasworks replaced them in the 20th century before they were torn down in the 1960s. Since then the site has been parking lots and a car dealership. A First Parliament Site Interpretive Centre was briefly set up in the car dealership during War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations. Plans to build a new district library on the site will include a permanent commemoration of the first parliament buildings. Public consultations for that are expected to start later this year or next.

Google Maps Street View of First Parliament Site

Last but not least in this area, plans for a 57-storey condo tower designed by KPMB Architects for Cityscape Development Corporation, to be built at 31R Parliament on the south edge of the Distillery District, met with concerns from the public last year. Citing concerns over height, density, and shadows (which would have a significant effect upon the pedestrian nature of the Distillery District), the developer has agreed to go back to the drawing board, and will not be taking its case to the OMB. For now, we must wait and see what comes of this development as plans continue to evolve.

31R Parliament Street proposal in context, design by KPMB Architects for Dundee Realty and Cityscape Development

Sherbourne Corridor

Moving west to Sherbourne Street, our tour continues with 177 through 197 Front Street East, where a proposal for a block of four condo towers (most recently proposed at 33, 29, 27, and 25 storeys), are being negotiated with the City. Designed by Wallman Architects for the Pemberton Group, height, density, and the relationship to the surrounding street-scape and pedestrian experience are among the City's primary concerns. Word is that an agreement on reworked plans—to be ratified by the OMB—is coming in the near future.

Latest proposal for 177-197 Front St. E., rendering courtesy of the Pemberton Group

Just to the west, 158 Front Condominiums, designed by architectsAlliance for Cityzen Development Group and Fernbrook Homes, have entered into sales. Connected by a 14-storey podium, the twin, 26-storey towers will bring 477 new units to Front Street East.

158 Front St E., rendering courtesy of Cityzen Development Group

A block north, work on the 17-storey, King + Condos designed by TACT Architecture for King Plus Development has all but finished, including the restoration of the historic National Hotel, which has been re-purposed as the tower's base and podium. Located at the southeast corner of Sherbourne and King Streets, this project represents a shift in attitudes that has become more and more prevalent of late, towards working with, rather than against, the city's architectural heritage.

King + Condos, as seen at the end of January, image by Forum member interchange42

Another block north, the interconnected 19-and-21-storey Axiom Condo towers, designed by Kirkor Architects Planners for Greenpark Homes and Fieldgate Homes, are progressing just below grade. When complete, this project (at the corner of Adelaide and Ontario Streets) will bring a further 527 units to the area, adding to its quickly evolving urban character.

Axiom Condos construction site in mid-February, image by Forum member drum118

Several blocks north, a new plan for 159 Wellesley Street East recently surfaced. First proposed as a Quadrangle Architects-designed 35-storey condo tower a few years ago by Diamond Corp and Kilmer Group, the site is now owned by the Alterra Group. Bringing a fresh design to the site, the most recent renderings reveal a multi-storey, triangular podium, complete with ground level retail, over which a more or less uniform tower structure would rise.

159 Wellesley St E., rendering courtesy of Alterra Group

North along Sherbourne, the first of two related projects now underway at 561 and 591 Sherbourne from the Medallion Corp. The first, now underway, includes the revitalization of 1970s-era St. James Town rental towers, along with a new 43-storey rental tower designs by Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects. Recent images reveal the first steps taken towards breathing new life into these forty-year old towers, the revitalization to eventually include new exterior glazing, plus a wholly re-desgined ground level lobby and common space, with room for retail and other services. The relationship to the surrounding neighbourhood will also be much improved.

561 & 591 Sherbourne, image by Forum member salsa

More recently, a second new tower at the north end of the site close to Howard Street has also been proposed. 

Just across the street, at 592 Sherbourne, work is now well underway at the site of MOD Developments Inc. and Tricon Capital's, The Selby. To be set behind the structure of the historic, Victorian-era, Gooderham Mansion, the, bKL Architecture-designed, 50-storey luxury rental tower aims to blend modern with traditional, its unique choice is for a red-brick exterior cladding rising the entire height of the tower, softening the transition from the historic mansion to the modern tower. Featured in another UrbanToronto piece, the Gooderham Mansion was once home to famous writer and one-time Toronto Star journalist, Ernest Hemingway. Recent images reveal the beginnings of construction going on behind the historic home.

Ongoing excavation work for the Selby as seen behind the former Gooderham Mansion, image by Forum member salsa

Back on the east side of Sherbourne Street, and stretching all the way over to Parliament Street south of Bloor, Lanterra Developments's redevelopment of North St. James Town will add four new architectsAlliance-designed residential towers to the neighbourhood, coming in west-to-east at 45, 12, 37 and 45 storeys in height. Along with a row of three-storey townhouses, there will be a total of 1241 new residential units over the long block here. The plan also includes the rebuilding of several deteriorated Victorian heritage houses and the relocation of another: that work is already underway while the new towers may still be a few years off. A new public park is also part of the mix.

Aerial view of ongoing work at North St. James Town, image by Forum member Hanlansboy

Wrapping up our extensive tour of this busy area, 387 through 403 Bloor Street East is the site of Gupta Group's 52-storey Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects-designed The Rosedale on Bloor. Now in sales, the building adds 487 new condo units above a Canopy by Hilton hotel. The construction of the tower will necessitate the demolition of a row of low-rise commercial properties dating to the 1920s, including a heritage-listed Victorian-era home, long-since defaced by a commercial frontage. Once complete, The Rosedale on Bloor will bring significant density and height just west of the corner of Sherbourne and Bloor.

The Rosedale on Bloor, rendering courtesy of the Gupta Group

That's it for the 2016 East of Downtown edition of our Growth to Watch For series. Please stayed tuned for UrbanToronto's next installment, and feel free to check the link above for all of the other areas covered in this series. Have comments on the developments? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related Companies:  Alterra Group of Companies, ANTAMEX, Arcadis, architects—Alliance, Baker Real Estate Incorporated, BDP Quadrangle, Bluescape Construction Management, Bousfields, CCxA, Core Architects, Counterpoint Engineering, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Doka Canada Ltd./Ltee, Dream Unlimited, Egis, EllisDon, Ferris + Associates Inc., First Gulf, Giannone Petricone Associates, Goldberg Group, Great Gulf, Grounded Engineering Inc., Groundwater Environmental Management Services Inc. (GEMS), Gupta Group, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Kirkor Architects Planners, Kramer Design Associates Limited, LEA Consulting, Live Patrol Inc., LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Monir Precision Monitoring Inc., NAK Design Strategies, NEEZO Studios, o2 Planning and Design, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., Qoo Studio, Quest Window Systems, Rebar Enterprises Inc, RJC Engineers, SKYGRiD, Snaile Inc., SPX Cooling Technologies Inc., StrategyCorp, STUDIO tla, Sweeny &Co Architects Inc., The Daniels Corporation, Tricon Residential, Trillium Architectural Products, TUCKER HIRISE Construction, U31, UCEL Inc., Unilux HVAC Industries Inc., Urban Strategies Inc., Vortex Fire Consulting Inc.