Brookfield Property Partners has submitted a Site Plan Approval application to the City of Toronto for the proposed renovation and redesign of the retail podium of the Hudson’s Bay Centre complex at 2 Bloor Street East. The renovation of the retail podium would convert the current department store into integrated office and retail space in the Brookfield-owned podium portion of the block. (The eastern half of the building is owned by Larco Investments, and was recently marked by the renovations to the W Hotel, soon to open.)

Northeast aerial view of the proposed redevelopment, image from submission to the City

The Brookfield-owned part of the complex includes the 2 Bloor Street East 36-storey office building, and the west half of the Hudson’s Bay store and retail complex. Larco owns the new 9-storey W Hotel, the 35-storey Bloor-Yonge Residences above it, and the base of the 28-storey The Residences of 8 Park Road (the condo is under separate ownership), and a 6-storey above-grade parking structure.

According to planners at Urban Strategies Inc., since the block is essentially constructed as one building, planning restrictions have been administered for the block as a whole.

Hudson's Bay Centre at street level, image from Google Street View

The retail podium of Brookfield's portion of the complex currently features a portion of the larger Hudson's Bay store (which will be shuttering in the coming weeks) along with a collection of smaller retail stores on the concourse level that connects to the Bloor-Yonge Station entrance of the TTC.

Designed by KPMB Architects, Brookfield's proposed redevelopment will be a renovation and redesign of the existing podium for an integrated office and retail development. Updated flagship retail space is proposed at-grade and on the concourse level, along with new office space above the retail. 

Aerial view looking northeast, image from submission to the City

The proposed renovation is located above and beside Bloor-Yonge subway station, which the TTC has plans for. According to the TTC, Bloor-Yonge Station will be, "undergoing a design retrofit and significant expansion to meet both current and future ridership demand." Proposed to the City in 2020, which we covered at the time, the Bloor-Yonge Station project includes the construction of a new, second platform to enhance capacity for eastbound passengers on Line 2, as well as the reconfiguration of the original westbound platform to enhance the capacity for westbound passengers. 

Bloor-Yonge transit station footprint with footprint of associated improvements, image from TTC

An expansion of Line 1 northbound and southbound platforms is also in the plans, followed by enhancements to the station as a whole. Specifically, some of these enhancements would include a new barrier-free entrance to the station, a new exit to Bloor Street, new escalators, elevators, and stairs, new public art and station finishes, and new fan plants to improve ventilation.

Brookfield's submission to the City indicates, however, some frustration with attempts to coordinate the redevelopment. A document written by Brookfield's lawyers states that Brookfield has spent a significant amount of time and effort to work with the TTC and CreateTO to ensure that the objectives of all players at the site are met, as an important part of the station's redevelopment is hinged on the need to remove a chiller plant — which cools the air of the complex— from its present location on Brookfield’s property, and to reconstruct it elsewhere to make way for the TTC Subway platform expansion.

This bird's-eye view of the Bloor / Yonge area shows the context of the subway stations among nearby buildings, image: TTC

Engineers have since advised both parties that the reconstructed chiller plant would be best situated on Brookfield’s property at the northeast corner of Yonge and Bloor – which would eliminate the possibility of the property being redeveloped. In response to this, in July of 2021, Brookfield offered to accommodate the chiller plant on its property, if the City and the TTC can agree on the redevelopment that the company is currently proposing. CreateTO and the TTC have not responded to the offer yet, according to Brookfield.

Brookfield's lawyers detail that they provided the TTC and the City with a proposal that they believe accomplishes the TTC’s platform expansion objectives, while respecting Brookfield’s long term interests and re-development objectives. With concern over TTC’s timelines, Brookfield called a meeting with representatives of the City in December, 2021 to outline the details of the proposal in an attempt to get a response, and to try to obtain clarity on TTC’s land requirements.

Brookfield was promised a quick answer at the end of December 2021, but has still heard nothing from either the City or the TTC. Brookfield says its plans for its renovation of the Hudson’s Bay Podium must be informed by comprehensive knowledge of all of TTC’s project requirements and the construction schedule, and that has become an issue here. Now a potential expropriation looms.

From Bloor Street looking north, image from submission to the City

Brookfield's lawyers write, "We ask that the proposed expropriation not be approved at this time, and that staff be directed to actively engage Brookfield with a view to reaching a fair and reasonable strategy for the project that respects the needs of the City and TTC, but also those of Brookfield, other stakeholders of the property and their tenants."

In order to achieve this, the lawyers are requesting that staff hold weekly meetings with Brookfield, to make sure that the issue is sorted out in a way that best suits all parties. 

More information on the development will come soon, but in the meantime, you can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Adamson Associates Architects, EllisDon, Entuitive, Grounded Engineering Inc., HGC Engineering Inc, IBI Group, NAK Design Strategies, The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Urban Strategies Inc.