This edition of our Growth to Watch For series ventures into the heart of the city, exploring the northern portion of Toronto's Downtown along the Yonge and Bay Street corridors between Bloor and College Streets. Covering an area of only 0.75km2 (75 hectares) in size, this region is slated for an influx of new residential towers, totalling tens of thousands of new residents in the already dense neighbourhood. The area is ripe with potential for high-rise development, but following a flurry of speculative land purchases by developers a few years ago, the City has put the brakes on many projects in the area in an effort to rein in the rampant development and ensure quality of life is preserved. As a result, many projects are currently being contested at the OMB, and many developments previously featured on our annual list have grown stale, but there still remain many intriguing and transformative projects in the pipeline.
Our journey begins westbound on Charles Street where we left off last time in our Church and Jarvis story, turning southward on Yonge down to College Park, before crossing through the park and back north again up Bay, ending off in the western fringes of the University of Toronto campus. We will give an overview of all proposals working their way through the planning process, all buildings currently under construction, and all developments nearing completion as we tour one of the most exciting growth areas in the city.
Heading west on Charles Street, Cresford Developments' Casa towers have claimed their spot in the Yonge-Bloor skyline, with the western Casa II Condos having completed last year, and the eastern Casa III Condos nearly complete. The 55-storey Casa III tower is designed by architectsAlliance and will add 622 new condo units to the neighbourhood along with office space in its 8-storey podium and grade-level retail. The finishing touches are now being put on the building and occupancy has begun, so look for construction to wrap up—including on the reflecting pool between the towers—sometime over the next few months.
We now come to the busy Yonge Street corridor, where several years ago, developers were rushing to snap up valuable land along Yonge between College and Bloor, amassing blocks of properties for consolidation and eventual redevelopment into residential and mixed-use towers. However, despite news of speculative purchasing or development proposals on nearly every block on this stretch of Yonge, most of this development activity has been put on hold in recent years, with relatively few of these developments coming through the pipeline.
This is in large part due to the Historic Yonge Heritage Conservation District (HCD), which was passed by City Council in March 2016 and aims to protect the remaining heritage buildings on this stretch of Yonge Street. While the HCD was being prepared, a one-year moratorium on demolition was placed on the area in February 2015, and the City has since been refusing many demolition applications as the HCD is tied up at the OMB. Once passed, the document will introduce policies and guidelines that preserve the heritage character of the district while allowing development to continue, ensuring that all new buildings are compatible with the existing built form at street level. The HCD is still being contested at the OMB, and there are no hearings currently posted on the OMB website, so it is unknown when this will be settled and finally allow development to continue along Yonge. In the meantime, there are still many significant projects under construction or in the development pipeline that will have a major impact on the future of Yonge Street.
We start our southward journey down Yonge Street with a modest development at the southwest corner of Yonge and Charles where work is currently underway on the reconstruction of a Shoppers Drug Mart at 728 Yonge Street. Designed by Brook McIlroy, the project is retaining the historic street-facing facades of the existing 3-storey corner building and attaching them to a new contemporary 3-storey building with frontages on Yonge and Charles Streets. The existing buildings have now been demolished, with the historic facades preserved in place, and excavation is getting underway, so look for the new building to rise out of the ground by the end of the year.
Just to the south on Yonge, we come to a controversial site at 10 St. Mary Street, currently home to an 8-storey Modernist office building on the northwest corner of Yonge and St. Mary. Back in 2014, Lifetime Developments had submitted plans for a 42-storey 255-unit residential tower on the property that would replace the existing office building, which was modified and settled at the OMB in 2017. However, the site was sold to Castlepoint Numa last year, who also purchased the adjacent properties at 79-85 St. Nicholas Street and 718 Yonge Street, all of which are listed or designated heritage properties. Renderings of a proposal from architectsAlliance surfaced in April 2017, which showed a 51-storey residential tower constructed at the centre of the property that would preserve all or most of each of the heritage buildings save for 79 St. Nicholas. Since those renderings came to light, Castlepoint Numa has purchased the remaining properties in the stretch from 710-718 Yonge and now owns the entire block excluding the properties along Charles Street, so it is anticipated that a revised proposal will be forthcoming. For now, no new documents have been submitted to the City, but we will keep you posted of any news as it becomes available.
Continuing south on Yonge, construction is now in full swing on The Clover on Yonge, a 44-storey condo tower by Cresford Developments that will stretch the entire block along the east side of Yonge between Gloucester and Dundonald Streets. Designed by architectsAlliance, the tower will add 528 new condo units to the area, with office and retail integrated into the podium. Excavation and shoring are now complete, with the tower cranes installed and work beginning on the below-grade levels. Look for this project to pop above the ground later this year.
Stepping just east off of busy Yonge Street, Totem Condos is nearing completion at 17 Dundonald Street, where Worsley Urban's 18-storey tower has reached its final height. Featuring architecture from RAW Design, the building will add 120 new condo units to the neighbourhood while recreating the facade of the 3-storey Modernist building previously on site. Most notably, it will also feature a new second entrance to Wellesley subway station in its podium. The building has now topped off with installation of the exterior cladding nearly complete, so look for construction to wrap up on this building before the end of the year.
Moving one block south, we come to the rapidly densifying Yonge and Wellesley intersection, where just east on Wellesley, a pair of side-by-side towers are making their mark on the downtown skyline. The first tower is Cresford Developments' Vox Condominiums located at 40 Wellesley East, a 35-storey 337-unit condo building designed by architectsAlliance. The building has now topped off, with installation of the exterior cladding now reaching the upper floors, so look for construction on this building to be substantially complete by the end of the year.
Immediately adjacent to Vox, Plaza's 50 at Wellesley Station is rising into the sky, as the 37-storey Quadrangle-designed condo building is quickly catching up to its neighbour to the west. The tower will add 365 new units to the area, rising alongside both Vox and Totem Condominiums, creating a cluster of density around Wellesley subway station. Look for the building to top off in the coming months, with work expected to be nearly complete by the end of the year.
Returning to Yonge and heading south one block, we come to TeaHouse 501 Yonge Condominiums, a project by Lanterra that stretches the entire block along Yonge between Maitland and Alexander Streets. Construction on the development has been slow-moving due to the complexity of the site, caused by the subway tunnel passing diagonally underneath the site, which necessitated the creation of a unique foundation and column arrangement that is now complete. The pair of architectsAlliance-designed towers will rise 25 and 52 storeys atop a shared podium and will add 608 new condo units to the area with grade-level retail. Work on the concrete structure has finally reached grade level, so look for the podium floors and eventually the towers to rise out of the ground over the coming year.
We now approach the busy intersection of Yonge and College, where a slew of developments in the immediate vicinity are poised to create one of the densest nodes in the city. First, on the southwest corner of Yonge and Grosvenor Street, Cresford Developments is planning yet another Yonge Street tower with Halo Residences on Yonge, a 38-storey condo building designed by architectsAlliance that will add 451 new units and grade-level retail to the area. The proposal also includes the restoration of the historic fire hall clock tower on the site, which is best known for being part of the St. Charles Tavern, a former LGBT bar that was central to the civil rights movement in the 1970s and 80s. The proposal was redesigned last year, with a new podium and the addition of a 'ghost' fire hall adjacent to the clock tower. Some demolition has taken place on the site, but all signs point to construction beginning shortly, so look for the remainder of the buildings to be demolished in the coming months in preparation for excavation to begin.
Directly across the street from Halo, KingSett Capital is proposing to redevelop the Courtyard Marriott at 475 Yonge, stretching the full block along Yonge between Alexander and Wood Streets. Designed by Quadrangle, the proposal would see the existing 9 and 16-storey hotel towers replaced with a pair of condo towers rising 48 and 58 storeys atop a shared 5-storey podium. The development would comprise a total of 985 new condo units with a 289-room hotel component to replace the existing use, as well as retail integrated at grade level. The design of the proposal was modified last year before being approved by City Council in December for rezoning, so a Site Plan Approval application should be coming in the near future.
Across the street at the southwest corner of Yonge and Grenville Streets, Canderel's YC Condos is rising quickly into the sky, with the building now approaching its final height. Designed by Graziani + Corazza Architects, the tower will rise 66 storeys and will comprise a total of 600 new condo units, with office and retail spaces integrated into the 5-storey podium. The building is already making its mark in the downtown skyline and has nearly topped off, with installation of the exterior cladding closely following the concrete floor plates. Look for construction to be substantially complete by the end of the year.
Immediately to the south of YC Condos, a renovation and addition is in the works for the prominent historic Oddfellows Hall at the northwest corner of Yonge and College Streets. Designed by ERA Architects, the project would see a 5-storey addition constructed on top of the building, set back from the two street facades, that would include additional commercial space. First proposed back in 2014, the project is nearing the end of the approvals process, but has gone silent in recent months. It is possible that construction of YC Condos next door is delaying the start of this addition, but the status of this addition is currently unknown. Stay tuned for any updates as they become available.
On the northeast corner of Yonge and Carlton Streets, Northam Realty is proposing a massive up-zoning of the existing 18-storey office tower property at 2 Carlton, which stretches the entire block along Yonge between Wood and Carlton Streets. Initially proposed as a pair of 72-storey towers, the project was redesigned last year into a single 73-storey tower with a stepped roofline and spire. Designed by IBI Group, the building would reach a height of 251 metres and would add 1,046 new condo units to the area with retail included at grade level. The development is currently seeking rezoning at the City, and recent updates indicate that the design is continuing to evolve, with a rejigged roofline and cladding, smaller floor plates, and more office space included. Stay tuned for news as this exercise continues to work its way through the planning process.
Continuing south on Yonge, a proposal was submitted late last year for another redevelopment of an existing office building at 415 Yonge, just north of Gerrard Street. Headed by Marwest Group of Companies and designed by Kirkor Architects, the project would see an additional 42 storeys constructed atop the existing 19-storey office building, bring the total height to 61 storeys and 239 metres. The existing Modernist concrete-clad office building would retain its current exterior cladding and would remain as office uses, while the 42-storey addition above would contain 450 new residential rental units. The project is seeking rezoning at the City and is just beginning its journey through the development pipeline, so stay tuned for any updates as the design evolves.
Crossing Yonge Street, we come to one of two important new park projects in this area. With all of the residential development happening nearby, access to public space is becoming increasingly important, and the City is addressing this need with the revitalization of Barbara Ann Scott Park. Tucked in behind College Park at the southwest corner of Yonge and College Streets, the MBTW Group and RAW Design are overseeing the complete renewal of the park, which will include a new skating trail and accompanying service building, new green space, and increased connections to the surrounding streets. Construction began in 2016 and is progressing slowly, with the skating trail being laid out last fall. The park is scheduled for completion later this year.
Crossing west through the park, we turn north to explore the Bay Street corridor. Passing College and Grenville streets, we arrive at Grosvenor Street and 880 Bay, where the Government of Ontario last year announced plans to renovate the Macdonald Block Complex. Comprising four Modernist towers constructed in the late 1960s plus the Art Deco Whitney Block, the provincial office complex occupies the full block bounded by Bay, Grosvenor Street, Queen's Park, and Wellesley Street. The major multi-year project will see a full upgrade of all building systems and a modernization of the interior spaces, while preserving the Modernist heritage aspects of the buildings, such as their exterior stone cladding and interior marble finishes. A Request for Proposals was issued to the three prequalified teams last month, with construction scheduled for 2019-2023, followed by completed occupation in 2024.
We take a brief detour east on Wellesley Street to where construction is in full swing at Wellesley on the Park, a 60-storey condo tower from Lanterra that features an eye-catching curvilinear form. Designed by KPMB Architects and IBI Group, the building will add 742 new condo units to the dense area along with retail at grade. Construction of the concrete structure is now about one third up the height of the tower, with installation of the exterior cladding underway on the podium levels. Look for the tower to top off by the end of the year.
Adjacent to Wellesley on the Park, a new 1.5-acre public park is in the works to provide much-needed green space to the influx of new residents to the neighbourhood. Named after a local First Nations leader, Dr. Lillian McGregor Park will be designed with an Indigenous theme to honour her memory, while providing new amenities such as an off-leash dog park, a children's play area, open fields, wooded areas, and landscaping inspired by natural rock formations. The park is designed by DTAH and has a public art program led by Métis artist Kenneth Lavallee. The project is still in the design and planning phase, with construction expected to start some time in 2019 after completion of the Wellesley on the Park tower next door.
Directly across the street from Wellesley on the Park, Fitzrovia Real Estate submitted a rezoning application late last year for a 64-storey condo tower at 10 Wellesley Street West. Designed by bKL Architecture with Rafael + Bigauskas Architects, the property includes the retention of significant portions of heritage buildings surrounding the tower, along Wellesley Street and fronting onto Yonge Street to the east, with the tower set back from both streets. The building would add 466 new units to the area along with grade-level retail incorporated into the restored heritage storefronts. City Planning recently issued a report recommending refusal of the application, which was passed last month at Community Council and now awaits a decision from City Council next week. It remains to be seen how the developers would respond to a rejection by the City.
Heading back west to Bay Street, Lanterra is adding another fixture to the busy Wellesley corridor with The Britt Condos at the northeast corner of Bay and Wellesley. The project is designed by IBI Group and involves the complete recladding of the former Sutton Place Hotel and subsequent conversion into condo units. The lower 8 storeys of the tower are being reworked ad expanded into a podium, while an additional 8-storeys are being added on top of the existing structure, bringing it to 41 storeys. The project will add 727 new residential units to the area, which includes rental replacement units fronting onto Phipps Street on the north side of the site, with new retail spaces integrated at ground level. Construction is progressing, with the building having topped off at its new height last year, and cladding installation now starting on the upper half of the tower. Look for work to be substantially complete on this building by the end of the year.
Continuing north on Bay, we arrive at 55 Charles Street West on the northwest corner of Bay and St. Mary Streets, where Azuria Group has been undertaking a comprehensive renovation of the 32-storey rental apartment tower to modernize the building. The work on the tower is most obvious on the exterior where windows on all elevations have been systematically replaced over the past couple years. Work on the window replacement and renovation should be complete in 2018.
Turning west onto St. Mary Street, we come to our final project of the tour with 70 St. Mary, where plans for the construction of a 40-storey tower to replace the Modernist low-rise Loretto College currently on the site were approved for rezoning back in 2014. The 40-storey tower is designed by architectsAlliance and would serve as a new 70-room dormitory for students of the college, with 220 condo units housed on the upper floors of the building. Additional college space would occupy the two-storey podium, including 8 suites for the Loretto Sisters who administer the college. Despite going quiet since it was approved a few years ago, updated application documents were submitted to the City as recently as November 2017, suggesting that this development is still progressing in the background. There may be more movement on this in the near future.
* * *
That's a wrap for our tour of Downtown North! Our next Growth to Watch For story will head west into the University of Toronto campus and then explore all of the developments happening west of Downtown and north of the Entertainment District, cutting through a diverse range of neighbourhoods along College, Dundas, Spadina, and Queen. In the meantime, make sure to check out the dataBase files and associated Forum threads for each of the projects mentioned above for more information. You can tell us what you think of all the developments happening in the city by joining the discussions in the threads, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page!