The City of Toronto's 15,400 employees can currently be found in 52 different properties spread across the city, with about 3 million square feet of office space total. In a city where land values continue to rise higher and higher, a new plan is being put forward to optimize the City's real estate assets, consolidating offices and unlocking land for cost savings and new city-building opportunities like affordable housing, employment uses, and community infrastructure.

Known as ModernTO, the plan would reduce City office locations from 52 to 20, primarily through collapsing of leases due in upcoming years, which is expected to help decrease the City's overall office square footage by 25%. The plan would maximize existing civic centres like City Hall and Metro Hall, utilizing efficient office designs with an aim to accommodate up to 5,600 additional employees. ModernTO's planned reduction of City office space would also result in the unlocking of eight sites for city-building purposes, including affordable housing.

277 Victoria Street, one of the City-owned sites that would be unlocked by ModernTO, image by Marcus Mitanis

Deemed underutilized or in high-value locations suitable for redevelopment, these sites include;

• 277 Victoria St.  

An 11-storey building (seen above) just east of Yonge-Dundas Square, it currently houses facilities for Toronto Public Health including a safe injection site. The offices and injection site would move.

33 Queen St. E.

A PoMo-fronted structure, mostly used as a multilevel Green P public parking garage, with some commercial space in it.

610 Bay St.

The 1931-built, Art Deco style Toronto Coach Terminal—a protected heritage building—is currently leased to Coach Canada, Greyhound Canada, and Ontario Northland bus services, which are expected to relocate to the new Union GO Bus Terminal in 2021, opening up this site for new redevelopment.

931 Yonge St.

A seven-storey office building directly south of Rosedale subway station, currently with offices for Toronto Community Housing.

1900 Yonge St.

The William McBrien Building at Yonge and Chaplin (and home to Davisville subway station) is a 1958-built seven-storey office building, currently home to the administrative headquarters of the Toronto Transit Commission. 

75 Elizabeth St.

Tucked away behind City Hall, this site is currently home to a two-storey building, housing offices for The Atmospheric Fund, a non-profit organization created by the City in 1991.

95 The Esplanade 

The ground floor of this residential complex at Church and The Esplanade currently houses the Toronto and East York District branch of the City’s Building Inspections division.

18 Dyas Rd.

This site in Don Mills houses the City of Toronto’s Ravines and Natural Features Protection Office, its Records Centre, and more.

With a preliminary estimate of the unlocked land at around $420 million, and estimate expenditures for modernization of retained office assets of roughly $250 million, the City is expecting a net value of around $170 million generated by the ModernTO plan.

"It is 2019 – it is time for the City of Toronto to modernize and optimize its spaces, that's what our residents expect us to do so that we can put all our energy and as much of our financial resources as possible towards providing the services that they expect from their municipal government," reads a statement issued by Mayor John Tory.

The plan, which is expected to take five years to implement, requires City Council approval.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.

* * *

EDIT: An earlier version of this story indicated that it has been expected that the TTC offices would move into a new building at Yonge & Eglinton. As per this study, that is no longer the case, as the TTC offices would now also move to one of the 20 buildings that the City would concentrate its employees in.