North of Toronto's city limits, Vaughan's new urban centre is rising at a SimCity pace. Spurred on by the planned 2017 opening of the Toronto Yonge-Spading Subway Extension (TYSSE), the 442-acre Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) presents an aggressive turn towards transit-oriented density for the sprawling municipality.
Located alongside the KPMG Building, the northern terminus (seen below) for the much-anticipated subway extension isn't expected to open until late December of next year. In anticipation of the new transit, however, a number of major residential and commercial projects in the area are already complete or underway.
Just west of the station, the Diamond Schmitt-designed KPMG Vaughan office complex is now complete (above), while the first paired 37-storey towers of the Cortel Group's Expo City are fully inhabited. Now being marketed as Nord Condos, the project's third phase is set to launch early next year.
Overall, however, much of Vaughan's new Downtown remains vacant—or occupied by surface parking—with a raft of projects beginning to come online. In recent weeks, SmartREIT (formerly known as CallowayREIT) and CentreCourt have announced a 700-unit condo project as part of 'SmartCentres Place.' While parts of the former 100-acre SmartCentres lands have since been sold to other developers, SmartREIT's sprawling 40-acre property remains the centrepiece of the VMC.
Meanwhile, Plaza and Berkley's The Met could be the next major project to begin construction in the heart of the new Downtown, with work on the Quadrangle-designed tower—which is nearly sold out—slated to get underway early next year.
Located just north of Highway 7 on Jane Street, the 35-storey, 511-unit development will likely be among the first high-rises to shape the area. In the years to come, however, the VMC's combination of enhanced transit—which will include significant improvements to the Viva bus system—and comparatively low land prices will likely see the VMC's master-planned glut of development continue to push forward in the years to come.
Just west of Jane Street on Highway 7, for example, a two-tower Gupta Group proposal—marketed as Icona Condos—was also recently announced. Expected to launch next year, the 44 and 48-storey condominiums are set to replace the current Hilton Garden Hotel on the south side of Highway 7. At the southeast corner of Jane and Highway 7, Liberty's Kirkor-designed Cosmos development—featuring four 35 and 36-storey condo towers, a 12-storey office building, and retail space—will also contribute to forming the new urban milieu.
Knitting the new Downtown together, a central public space is also gradually taking shape. Designed by Montreal-based Claude Cormier + Associés, the extensive plaza and green space will stretch west from the KPMG building, with the first paved elements of the new public space now being installed.
Directly alongside the KPMG Building and Vaughan Metrpolitan Centre Station, a YMCA/Library complex will provide a vital important public amenity to the nascent community. Also designed by Toronto's Diamond Schmitt, the facility will be a prominent part of the new Downtown. Replacing part of the Walmart Supercentre parking lot, the 9-storey project is strongly indicative of the region's evolving approach to urban development.
While decades of auto-dependant horizontal sprawl eventually saw Vaughan claim the title of Canada's fastest growing municipality (from 1996 to 2006), the region's explosive growth is now being channelled towards a much more urban model of development. While the area's street-level experience may continue to reflect a fairly car-oriented landscape for years to come, Vaughan's nascent Downtown nonetheless evidences a sudden and mostly positive shift for a city that—according to the Globe and Mail—is still "largely known by those outside it for Vaughan Mills shopping centre and Canada’s Wonderland."
We will keep you updated as the VMC continues to take shape. In the meantime, more information about several of the above-mentioned projects is available in our dataBase files. linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space on this page, or join an ongoing conversation in our Forum.