Thetorontoblog.com warmly wishes you all the best for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2015
Thetorontoblog.com warmly wishes you all the best for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2015
This artistic illustration shows the 42-storey condo tower being proposed for the northwest corner of Yonge and St Mary Streets. The drawing appears on development proposal signs posted on the property (see below).
One of three development proposal signs posted at 10 St Mary Street
Yonge Street view of 10 St Mary Street, an 8-storey office building constructed in 1957 in the International Style of architecture.
Development proposal signs have finally been posted on a 57-year-old office building at the northwest corner of Yonge and St Mary Streets — the site of a planned 42-storey condo tower.
The signs, which were affixed to the building sometime within the past week, provide a brief description of a rezoning application that was filed with the City on August 19.
The new tower would rise 140.5 meters and would include a 10-storey podium. The building would contain 255 condo units, retail space on the first floor, and four levels of underground parking for 49 vehicles. Parking spots for 316 bicycles also would be provided.
The condo would replace an 8-storey office building that has occupied the site since 1957. Designed in the International Style by Mathers and Haldenby to house its own architectural offices, 10 St Mary Street’s tenants in recent years have included University of Toronto Press and the Ontario branch office of the Liberal Party of Canada. A Country Style Donuts outlet and a Mr Sub sandwich shop occupy street-level premises in the building.
Redevelopment of the narrow property, which extends the full length of the short St Mary Street block between Yonge Street and St Nicholas Street, has been expected for some time.
Demolition permit issued in 2013
In the fall of 2013 the property owner, Lifetime St Mary Street Inc., applied to the City for a building demolition permit. Lifetime already had met with city planning staff several times in the preceding months to discuss plans to redevelop the site with a highrise condo, but had not yet filed a rezoning application with the City.
However, 10 St Mary is located on a stretch of Yonge Street for which the City has been conducting a Heritage Conservation District study, a process which typically takes several years to complete (click here to see the City webpage outlining the Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District Study).
On November 19 2013, in a bid to forestall the demolition, Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) asked the City’s planning department to determine if City Council could designate 10 St Mary as a heritage building under Ontario law. (Designation confers a measure of legal protection, since demolition or material changes to the heritage attributes of a designated building require the prior approval of City Council.)
In a letter filed in support of the TEYCC request, Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam noted that 10 St Mary “was identified in the North Yonge Planning framework as a building of potential heritage interest. It would be premature to permit demolition of this building prior to the completion of this study and before the City has had the opportunity to evaluate the heritage value of the building. The current Ontario Building Code does not have any means to prevent the issuance of a demolition permit for buildings that are not yet designated, but are being considered for heritage designation.”
Meanwhile, the city issued a demolition permit as a matter of course on December 2 2013 while city staff researched the building’s history and assessed its heritage significance. The property owner did not take any steps to commence demolition while that process was underway.
Building met criteria for cultural heritage value
In a February 28 2014 report, the City’s planning department recommended that City Council state its intention to designate 10 St Mary.
“Regarded as an important example of International Style architecture that was built in 1957, the site is associated with one of Toronto’s most important firm of architects and is contextually significant on this portion of Yonge Street,” the planning report states in summarizing its recommendation.
More specifically, the report explains that 10 St Mary meets three key criteria for cultural heritage value:
♦ Design value
“In the expression of the structural concrete frame in its facades, the infill panels of glass and brick and in the exploitation of the structural possibilities which permit an open area at grade level, this building is an excellent example of a mid-century, International Style commercial structure integrating offices, retail and parking.”
♦ Associative value
“The building is historically associated with the architectural partnership of Mathers and Haldenby whose span of work from 1921-1991 contributed significantly to educational, government and commercial institutions and residential enclaves in the City of Toronto, across Canada and as far away as the Caribbean and Australia. This office project is particularly important because of its expressive use of modernist International Style principles which contrasts with the majority of their work which was more traditionally based through to this period of the mid-1950s.”
♦ Contextual value
“An eight-story International Style building with an open volume at its base facing Yonge and St. Mary Streets it is situated in a predominantly late 19th and early 20th century streetscape. Paired with 696 Yonge Street, another International Style mid-century, eight-storey office building on the south side of St. Mary Street, it makes an important contribution to the character of the area. 10 St. Mary is historically linked to its surroundings as a representative of mid-twentieth century Yonge Street responding to the changing lifestyle and business needs as well as the burgeoning post-war economic expansion, the increased use of automobiles and the separation of work and home” the report stated.
The Toronto Preservation Board adopted the planning report on March 26, as did TEYCC on April 8. Toronto City Council in turn adopted the recommendation on May 6, and on June 2 the City Clerk posted an official public notice of Council’s intention to designate the property.
Property owner objects to heritage designation
Those decisions were made notwithstanding complaints by lawyers for Lifetime, who wrote to the City objecting to the intention to designate the property.
Indeed, in an April 7 letter to the City, law firm Sherman Brown Dryer Karol pointed out that Lifetime had purchased 10 St Mary after its thorough due diligence confirmed the building was not listed or designated as a heritage property. Moreover, Lifetime had met with City planning, urban design and heritage staff to discuss its plans to built a condo tower on the site, but had not been warned that 10 St Mary might be considered to have heritage value.
“The original design included a podium that replaced the original building with a new podium of a height that replicated the built form envelope of the existing building on site,” the lawyers wrote.
However, city planning staff told Lifetime that the podium height would have to be reduced “to comply with the City’s ‘new vision’ for the area, as established in their recent report on the North Downtown Yonge Urban Design Guidelines. The recommendation to reduce the height of the podium to comply with the new 18 m [meter] requirement, by definition, requires the demolition of the existing building. When the recommendation was made at our client’s pre-consultation meeting, not once did Heritage Staff raise a concern and/or suggest that the building had any heritage significance whatsoever,” the lawyers’ letter states.
Review board pre-hearing set for December
Under Ontario law, anyone objecting to the proposed heritage designation had until July 2 to file a formal objection with the City (30 days after the City published its notice of intent to designate). If objections are submitted, provincial law requires the City to refer the matter to a hearing before the Conservation Review Board, a provincial adjudicative tribunal. According to a listing of active cases on the Conservation Review Board website, a pre-hearing conference on the 10 St Mary Street dispute will be held on December 18 of this year.
In the meantime, city planners will continue reviewing the condo tower development application, and TEYCC will likely ask them later this fall to schedule a community consultation meeting to obtain public input into the proposal.
Below are several more photos of 10 St Mary Street, all from October 19.
10 St Mary viewed from the east side of Yonge Street. The building’s “open volume at ground level” — used as a patio for customers of the street-level fast food shops — is considered a heritage attribute.
10 St Mary is situated just two blocks southeast of the Manulife Centre (top right), a 163-metere, 51-storey-tall apartment and commercial tower built in 1972. If approved, the condo proposed for 10 St Mary will rise nearly 141 meters.
10 St Mary is just three short blocks south of the key Yonge & Bloor intersection in the tony Yorkville neighbourhood. Its proximity to Yorkville and the Yonge & Bloor subway lines will be one of the top selling features for the proposed condominium.
Immediately to the north of 10 St Mary is this row of two-storey retail and commercial buildings at 710 to 718 Yonge Street. They are not part of the redevelopment proposal.
Side view of 10 St Mary Street. A City planning report says that heritage attributes of the 57-year-old building include the “façade with its expressed concrete frame, infill panels with two-part glazed panels and 9″ Flemish bond buff-brick”
10 St Mary viewed from the southwest corner of St Mary and St Nicholas Streets. A City report says another heritage attribute of the building is “the reinforced concrete structural frame, the external wall columns, and external spandrel beams exposed on external wall faces.”
“The 8-storey scale, form and massing of the building” are other features that give the building heritage value, according to a City planning report.
St Nicholas Street view of a loading dock and garage entrance on the west side of 10 St Mary. This is where a service entrance and access to a parking garage elevator would be located in the 42-storey condo tower proposed for this site.
Another view of the west side of 10 St Mary, along St Nicholas Street
Bay Street condo and apartment towers stand in silhouette under fiery orange clouds during tonight’s sunset (as seen from my balcony east of Jarvis Street). The buildings topped by construction cranes are the two U Condos towers at Bay and St Mary Streets (far right) and the FIVE Condos tower at Yonge and St Joseph Streets (second from right). Bookending the view at far left are the Murano and Burano condo towers at Bay and Grosvenor Streets.
The new RBC WaterPark Place office tower practically blends into the clouds in this view from the west on lower York Street on September 16 2014 …
… while four new towers reach for the clouds above the south downtown core. At left are the Delta hotel and Bremner office tower at Southcore Financial Centre on Bremner Blvd. Soaring skyward at right are the two ÏCE Condos on York Street.
The sensuous curves of the One Bloor condo tower are already adding interest and excitement to the once-drab Yonge & Bloor intersection in Yorkville.
Below are more photos of the towers shown above, as well as other hotel, office and condo skyscrapers that I photographed this past week.
RBC WaterPark Place office building
West side of RBC WaterPark Place viewed from lower York Street
South face of RBC WaterParkPlace seen from Queen’s Quay Blvd. The tower was designed by WZMH Architects of Toronto.
Upper half of the 30-storey tower, viewed from the southwest
Another view of the tower from Queen’s Quay to the southwest
Studio on Richmond condominiums
Looking up the north side of the Studio on Richmond condo tower situated between Simcoe and Duncan Streets in the Entertainment District. It will top off at 31 storeys. Its 41-storey sister tower, Studio2, is currently under construction behind it on Nelson Street.
Studio on Richmond podium and tower viewed from the north side of Richmond Street near Simcoe Street
The two-tower Studio on Richmond condo complex was designed by Quadrangle Architects of Toronto.
A view of the Studio on Richmond condo from the west on Richmond Street near Duncan Street. The building is a project of Aspen Ridge Homes.
Delta Hotel and Bremner office tower at Southcore Financial Centre
The Delta Toronto hotel (left) and the Bremner office tower are nearing completion at Southcore Financial Centre on Bremner Boulevard between York Street and Simcoe Street. The buildings are seen here from Roundhouse Park, near the Toronto Railway Museum.
The 45-storey Delta Hotel tower reflects on the west wall of the 30-storey Bremner office tower in this view from the southwest corner of Lower Simcoe Street and Bremner Boulevard.
Looking up the northwest corner of the Delta Hotel. The Bremner office tower is partially visible behind it.
Upper west side of the Delta Hotel. Scheduled to open in 2015, the Delta will be a premium 4-star hotel with 567 guest rooms.
The angled south face of the Delta Hotel, seen from Bremner Boulevard
The L Tower condominium
A closer view of some of the upper levels of the 58-storey L Tower, which is located at the corner of Yonge Street and The Esplanade, directly behind the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
The L Tower makes an emphatic point on the downtown skyline
A telephoto view of the construction crane that has soared above The L Tower construction site for the past several years
The Mercer condo tower
Looking up the southeast corner of The Mercer condo building, which rises 33 storeys at the corner of Mercer and John Streets in the Entertainment District
The Mercer was designed by BBB Architects, and is a project of Graywood Developments Ltd. and Beaveerhall Homes.
Three Hundred Front Street West condominiums
The upper floors of the 49-storey Three Hundred Front Street West condo tower
Looking up the southeast corner of Tridel’s Three Hundred Front West condo. The building was designed by Toronto’s Wallman Architects.
Theatre Park condominiums
The 47-storey Theatre Park condo tower is under construction on King Street West, right next door to Toronto’s historic Royal Alexandra Theatre. I shot this photo of Theatre Park from two blocks to the northwest.
Glass balcony panels are gradually being installed on the tower’s north side
Design details on the tower’s west side
The upper west sides of the 67- and 57-storey ÏCE Condominiums, located at 12 and 14 York Street in the south downtown core
ÏCE Condo towers viewed from the southeast on Queen’s Quay Blvd.
A view of the two towers from Grand Trunk Crescent to their northwest
I shot this pic of the 78-storey Aura condominium tower from the podium green roof at Toronto City Hall. Aura is the tallest condominium building in Canada.
The upper third of Aura, viewed from several blocks to the southwest
A view of Aura from two blocks to the west on Elizabeth Street
The top of Aura, viewed from the southwest
The top of Aura, viewed from the north
Nicholas Residences condominiums
A view of 35-storey Nicholas Residences from the north on Balmuto Street. The condo is a project of Urban Capital and Alit Developments.
Looking up the tower’s northwest corner, from the intersection of St Mary and St Nicholas Streets. The building was designed by Toronto’s Core Architects Inc.
Nicholas viewed from the southwest on St Nicholas Street.
West side of Nicholas, viewed from St Mary Street near Bay Street
Looking toward the 48-storey FIVE Condos tower from two blocks to the southeast, at the corner of Yonge and Maitland Streets. To its right is the Nicholas Residences condo tower, two blocks north.
FIVE Condos was designed by Toronto’s Hariri Pontarini Architects
Looking up the south side of FIVE Condos from Wellesley Street West
The tower has a wonky appearance when viewed from the south, thanks to the undulating pattern of balconies on the east and west sides.
Construction of the tower’s mechanical penthouse is underway. FIVE Condos is a project of MOD Developments Inc., Graywood Developments Ltd., Tricon and Diamondcorp.
Windows on the east side of FIVE Condos on September 5
FIVE Condos viewed from the east on the morning of September 11
A view of FIVE from the south on St Luke Lane, next to the Toronto Central YMCA Centre (left). This view will change drastically in several years when Lanterra Developments builds its 60-storey 11 Wellesley on the Park condo tower on the property partly visible on the left side of St Luke Lane (presently occupied by a row of trees and a condo presentation centre behind them).
Chaz.Yorkville Condominiums, on Charles Street between Yonge and Church Streets, is a project of 45 Charles Ltd. and Edenshaw Homes Limited.
A signature design element of Chaz.Yorkville is the large rectangular box that juts from the tower’s south side. It’s the Chaz Club, a 2-storey private club for exclusive use of condo residents.
The tower was designed by Sol Wassermuhl of Page + Steele IBI Group Architects in Toronto. It will stand 47 storeys tall when complete.
Chaz.Yorkville is only a few weeks away from overtaking the height of its next-door neighbour, the 46-storey Casa Condominium tower, which was built in 2010.
One Bloor Condominiums
Although construction has climbed only one-third of the way to its ultimate 75 storeys, the One Bloor condo tower is already making a huge architectural statement at the Yonge & Bloor crossroads in Yorkville. I shot this photo from the southwest corner of Yonge & Charles Streets.
I often hear passersby comment favourably on the delightful sweeping curves of One Bloor’s podium and tower.
Looking up at One Bloor from the southwest corner of the Yonge & Bloor intersection. The building was designed by Toronto’s Hariri Pontarini Architects.
A view of One Bloor from the northwest, on Yonge Street just above Bloor
A view of the two U Condos towers from two blocks to the south on Bay Street, at Phipps Street. The construction crane at left is building the 32-storey 1Thousand Bay condo tower at the southwest corner of Bay and St Joseph Streets.
The west U Condos building has topped off at 45 storeys, while the east tower continues its climb toward 55 floors. U Condos is a project of Pemberton Group, and was designed by architectsAlliance of Toronto.
Construction crews are closing in the mechanical penthouse levels of the 49-storey X2 Condominiums at the southwest corner of Jarvis & Charles Streets
X2 Condos viewed from one block to the southwest on Isabella Street. The tower is a project of Lifetime Developments and Great Gulf Homes.
A September 3 view from the south of X2 Condos left, and the first X Condos, right, which was constructed in 2010. X2 was designed by Wallman Architects, while X Condos was designed by architectsAlliance.
This illustration, from an image gallery on the Ten York website, shows how the tower podium will look when viewed from the approximate area where I shot the excavation photo posted above.
This image, captured from Tridel’s construction webcam, shows an aerial view of the site on the afternoon of Wednesday September 17.
Just before I began an extended break from blogging at the end of January, I published an update about the exciting Ten York condo tower project. That post, Drilling rigs ready to rumble at Ten York condo site, included a photo of foundation drilling equipment that had recently arrived at the future tower location — a triangular piece of property awkwardly situated between Harbour Street, York Street, Lake Shore Boulevard and the elevated Gardiner Expressay.
I walked past the Ten York site yesterday and had the chance to snap a new photo from a spot on the York Street sidewalk near the project’s northeast corner. The pic shows an excavation rig loading a dump truck in the pit, which is already several levels below grade. Once digging is complete, a six-floor underground parking garage will be constructed for the flatiron-shaped 224-meter tower (735 feet, approximately 65 storeys).
Ten York was designed by Wallman Architects of Toronto.
Below are two images from Tridel’s webpage for the Ten York project. Click on the link to obtain extensive information about condo floorplans and building details, as well as to view dozens of additional images and illustrations.
This illustration shows the “community master plan” for the Ten York site
This artistic illustration, from the Ten York project website, depicts a view of the north side of the condo tower and its podium.
This artistic illustration, from a City of Toronto development proposal sign, shows the 47 storey condo tower that is being proposed for a site on the southeast corner of Dundas and Jarvis Streets …
… property currently occupied by restaurant and retail businesses in 2-storey buildings at 175-191 Dundas Street East and 235 Jarvis Street. The tower would soar above The Grand Hotel & Suites to the south at 225 Jarvis.
A 47-storey condo tower containing 534 residential units is being proposed for the southeast corner of Dundas and Jarvis Streets.
The building, which would feature a 43-floor tower atop a 4-storey podium, is proposed in a rezoning application that was filed with the City on August 18. The project site encompasses several adjacent two-storey buildings at 175 to 191 Dundas East, along with a separate two-storey building at 235 Jarvis. The properties are presently occupied by retail shops and restaurants, including a Tim Horton’s outlet.
The City posted development proposal notices on the building just before the Labour Day holiday weekend.
The signs include an artistic illustration of the proposed highrise (shown above), as well as a development summary that says the mixed-use building would include:
♦ 186 square meters of street-level retail space;
♦ a residential gross floor area of 34,365 square meters
♦ 43 studio units
♦ 399 one-bedroom condos
♦ 50 two-bedroom condos
♦ 42 three-bedroom suites
♦ 80 underground parking spots and
♦ 539 bicycle parking spaces
As is the usual custom, the developer and architect are not named on the proposal signs or on the development application listing that appears on the City of Toronto website.
If approved and built, the 43-storey tower would firmly establish the Dundas & Jarvis crossroads as a major highrise hub for east downtown, with tall condo buildings occupying three of the intersection’s four corners.
Construction of one tower — Pace Condos — is already well under way on the southwest corner of the intersection, where work has started on the 10th floor of the 43-storey building.
A 45-storey condo complex on the northeast corner of Dundas & Jarvis was approved by Toronto City Council last October. That project, which will transform the site of what’s presently the Hilton Garden Inn Toronto City Centre, is currently in the sales & marketing phase of development as a project called Dundas Square Gardens.
One of the development proposal signs that the city has posted on the property where a developer would like to build a 43-storey condo tower
The development site includes several adjacent low-rise buildings at 175-191 Dundas Street East. The buildings contain restaurants and retail businesses, including a Tim Horton’s outlet on the corner of Dundas & Jarvis.
The development site includes the two-storey building at 235 Jarvis Street (right), currently home to Shishalicious Café.
A view of the southwest corner of Dundas & Jarvis where construction has started on the 10th floor of Pace Condos
A promotional billboard for Dundas Square Gardens, a 45-storey condo project that will rise on the northeast corner of Dundas & Jarvis …
… where the Hilton Garden Inn Toronto City Centre currently occupies a building that once housed federal government offices
This Tridel photo illustration shows how the wedge-shaped Ten York condo tower (center) will rise to prominence between the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the Gardiner’s raised exit ramp to York, Bay and Yonge Streets.
Ten York’s turn: Preliminary construction work is starting on an eagerly-awaited condominium tower that will transform a tightly-cramped and unsightly piece of land into a premier residential address and, at the same time, greatly enhance one of the bleakest-looking blocks in the city’s south downtown core.
Ordinarily, the oddly-shaped property would seem an unlikely place to build a skyscraper — let alone one that people would love to live in.
Roughly triangular in shape, the site is completely surrounded on all sides by busy roads that are often clogged with traffic — Lake Shore Boulevard and the Gardiner Expressway to the north, Harbour Street and the Gardiner’s elevated off-ramp to York, Bay and Yonge Streets to the south, and of course York Street itself to the east. These high-volume thoroughfares, along with a large above-ground parking garage on the south side of Harbour Street, make the pie-shaped area from York to Lower Simcoe Street one of the darkest, ugliest and noisiest places in the downtown core. The block presents pedestrians and cyclists with a harsh and unpleasant streetscape they wouldn’t want to linger on, but would rather hurry past to get somewhere nicer.
But Ten York should improve the pedestrian experience enormously — as should a three-tower mixed-use development that will revitalize another similarly dismal strip of land on the east side of York Street. (See my January 26 post, which profiles construction progress on a Menkes project that will transform a 1-hectare site at 1 York Street into a vital new residential and employment hub.)
Together, the Tridel and Menkes projects will renew and repurpose two “islands” of under-utilized real estate — roughly half a kilometer in length — that have long been a visual and physical barrier separating Toronto’s popular Harbourfront district from its bustling commercial core. In addition to enhancing the public realm, the new buildings will establish a pleasant gateway between the two neighbourhoods — especially if the City ever follows through on plans to remove or reconfigure the Gardiner off-ramps that pass beside the development sites.
A Tridel image showing a street-level perspective of the prow-shaped Ten York podium. The 69-storey skyscraper was designed by Toronto’s Wallman Architects.
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This artistic rendering depicts a view from the southwest of the One York Street office building and the Harbour Plaza Residences condo towers that Menkes Developments Ltd. is constructing in the south downtown core
January 18 2013: So far, only cranes and hoarding are visible at the construction site, as seen here from the southwest corner of York and Harbour Streets…
… but what passersby can’t see is that, behind the hoarding, construction of the underground levels for the office & condo complex is nearly at street level
Approaching grade: It won’t be long before the landmark Menkes condo and office tower development at 1 York Street and 90 Harbour Street begins to rise from the ground and significantly transform the entire look and feel of the southeast downtown core.
Hidden behind hoarding and not readily visible to most people passing by, work has been progressing quickly on the underground parking levels for the One York Street office building and the two Harbour Plaza Residences condo towers.
Only 13 months ago, excavation was just getting underway on the building site — a long, rectangular parcel of land awkwardly situated between several major traffic arteries — the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard to the north, York Street to the west, and Harbour Street and the elevated York/Bay/Yonge offramp from the Gardiner to the south. The property was formerly occupied by a 5-storey brown brick building originally constructed for the Ontario Workmen’s Compensation Board in 1953, and subsequently used as headquarters for the Ontario Provincial Police. The building was demolished during the summer of 2011 (see my July 17 2011 post for photos showing how the site looked before it was acquired by Menkes Developments Ltd.).
By late summer of 2013, work had started on the office tower’s bottom underground level, even though hundreds of truckloads of soil remained to be excavated from the easterly two-thirds of the block-long site.
But by the beginning of December 2013, the below-ground parking floors were steadily taking shape across the entire length of the property.
Now, within weeks, the One York Street office tower will start to climb above the hoarding, finally bringing the construction activity into clear view of passersby.
December 13 2012: A crew works on the western perimeter of the future One York Street office tower location. This is a view looking south across the building site from the southeast corner of Lake Shore Boulevard and York Street.
August 19 2013: A crew works on the bottom underground level of the One York Street office tower as excavation continues on the eastern two-thirds of the building site where the Harbour Plaza condo towers will ultimately rise
December 3 2013: Underground levels are quickly taking shape
January 18 2014: Rebar for several support columns on the west side of the office tower building site extend almost to street level
Please turn to page 2 of this post to view additional construction photos and see more than a dozen artistic renderings of the One York Street office building and the two Harbour Plaza Residences condo towers.
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August 9 2013: Since 1977, this landscaped podium over Earl Street has linked the rental apartment highrise at 555 Sherbourne, left, with its sister tower at 545 Sherbourne (right), blocking views of buildings in St James Town to the east
January 20 2014: Demolition of the podium link, which started one week ago, has already improved the streetscapes and views immensely
Long wait: Preliminary work has finally begun on a long-awaited construction project that will add a fourth tower plus 40 townhomes to a 37-year-old Sherbourne Street highrise apartment complex — drastically improving the look of three adjacent streets in the process.
Demolition began one week ago on an elevated concrete structure that had provided outdoor amenity space between the apartment towers at 545 and 555 Sherbourne Street. The landscaped deck, which passed over Earl Street, was part of a podium that contained a grocery store, retail shops and a fitness club, all linked to a third highrise apartment building at 565 Sherbourne.
Constructed in 1977 on the western flank of downtown Toronto’s heavily populated St James Town neighbourhood, the 545-565 Sherbourne complex contains 1,117 rental units in two 31-storey towers and one 28-storey highrise.
Redevelopment plan will revitalize 37-year-old complex
Once a vibrant and popular apartment enclave boasting a street-level Loblaws grocery store and other retail shops, a multi-level racquet sports and fitness centre, and a block-long landscaped podium roof deck with jogging track, 545-565 Sherbourne has not aged well and in the past decade has looked increasingly tired and worn, particularly at street level.
The Loblaws supermarket closed in the late 1990s and was replaced with a discount No Frills grocery store, while the fitness club shut down in the early 2000s and its large space has remained vacant ever since. A Shoppers Drug Mart was constructed beside 565 Sherbourne in 2007, slightly improving the appearance of the complex’s north side; however, the building frontage along Sherbourne has looked increasingly run-down in recent years, while the property’s street-level face along Earl and Bleecker Streets has long been dark, dingy and dismal.
April 10 2011: The rental apartment buildings at 565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street, as seen from the intersection of Isabella and Sherbourne Streets
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Twenty somethings: Two condo towers under construction just two blocks apart from each other on Adelaide Street East are adding some more height to the steadily changing southeast downtown skyline.
On George Street, just a few steps north of Adelaide, the Post House Condominium tower has climbed over 18 storeys on its way to 21. Just two blocks east, the Ivory on Adelaide condo complex has risen 20 floors on the way to 22.
Although their heights pale in comparison with condo towers under construction along Adelaide Street West, where several new buildings in the Entertainment District will soar twice as tall, Post House and Ivory still stand out in the historic Old Town area of Toronto. Though they’re not the first highrises in the neighbourhood, and will be joined by a handful more within the next several years, they do add obvious height and density to what is one of the most pleasantly walkable residential and commercial districts in the downtown core.
December 10 2013: Looking up the southwest corner of the Ivory on Adelaide condo under construction on Adelaide Street just east of Sherbourne Street
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December 6 2013: A view of the construction site for Pace Condos, located at the southwest corner of Jarvis & Dundas Streets
Approaching grade: Construction continues on the underground parking levels for the Pace Condos tower at the southwest corner of Jarvis and Dundas Streets in east downtown.
But in just a few weeks’ time, construction will reach grade and work will begin on the building’s 6-storey podium — the base for a 36-storey tower that will transform the east downtown skyline.
The steady approach to street level at means that, throughout 2014, neighbours and passersby will get a clear view of construction progress as the tower climbs skyward, eventually topping off with 42 residential floors. For now, pedestrians can catch a partially-obscured glimpse of building activity if they peek through a chainlink fence next to the sidewalk at the corner of Jarvis & Dundas.
A project of Great Gulf, Pace Condos was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects. Residents of the 384-unit building will enjoy extensive recreational and fitness amenities on the tower’s 7th floor, including access to an outdoor swimming pool and a landscaped garden on the podium roof. The building will have more than 4,500 square feet of retail space at ground level.
Below is another photo of work on the underground parking levels, as well as an artistic rendering of the building.
December 10 2013: Once two more underground parking levels have been completed, work on the 42-storey tower will begin to climb above street level.
This illustration of the Pace Condos building appeared on a development proposal sign the City posted on the project site nearly three years ago. The tower was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects.
November 28 2013: A view of Fashion House Condos on King Street West, where construction is nearing completion and units are being fitted with the building’s trademark bold red window coverings.
By popular request: Judging by the email I’ve been receiving lately, there’s considerable interest in the Fashion House Condos development on King Street West. Numerous people have asked if I have taken any recent photos of the midrise residential building designed by Toronto’s CORE Architects Inc., which is nearing the end of construction.
I actually had an opportunity to snap some photos just a few days ago during a quick trip to the King West area, so I have posted them in the Fashion House Condos album on thetorontoblog.com’s Flickr page.
An update on this Freed Developments project will follow soon.
Click on the image to view a small-format slideshow of Fashion House condo photos. Click twice to open the Flickr album and view individual full-size pictures.
November 28 2013: Construction on the King Charlotte condo tower has climbed above the hoarding on Charlotte Street in the Entertainment District
Get stacking: The last time I passed by the King Charlotte condo tower construction site with a camera in hand was on a cold afternoon back in February. Work on the 32-storey tower was still in its early stages; in fact, the excavation for the building’s 13-meter-deep, 4-level underground parking garage was less than half complete. The entire construction site was dusted with a light layer of fresh snow.
I saw the site a couple of times during the summer, while work on the parking garage was proceeding, but didn’t make to Charlotte Street with a camera until several days ago. This time I discovered that the building is now rising above ground, with construction well underway on the main floor, which will eventually house retail and commercial space.
Over the course of the next 8 months or so, it will be interesting to watch the construction progress and see how the Entertainment District’s newest point tower literally stacks up — Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance has designed the building as a vertical series of variously-sized boxes.
“The boxes stack upon each other, and not necessarily in a fashion that one might initially imagine,” Lamb Development Corp. president & CEO Brad J. Lamb notes in a project description on the King Charlotte condominium website.
“The retail box protrudes from the podium box, the tower box appears to teeter and overhang the podium box, and the oversized rooftop amenity box actually does overhang the tower box. It is all very playful, yet incredibly clean and crisp,” he writes.
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November 14 2013: Construction of FIVE Condos (left) and Nicholas Residences (center rear) is dramatically changing the landscape of north downtown Yonge Street. This is a view from the east side of Yonge just below Maitland Street, one block south of Wellesley Street.
Shifting landscape: Two condo tower construction projects are rapidly changing the look of Yonge Street’s west side, between College and Bloor Streets, while a third new building will soon make a dramatic impact on views up the east side of Yonge Street.
The steadily rising concrete frames for FIVE Condos and Nicholas Residences now dominate the views up Yonge from as far south as its intersection with Carlton and College Streets. Depending upon your particular vantage point along the 10-block stretch of what city planners call “north downtown Yonge,” FIVE and Nicholas already obscure or partially block from sight several skyscrapers in the Yorkville neighbourhood — including the 51-storey Manulife Centre tower, which has been a familiar landmark indicating the intersection of Bloor & Bay Streets since 1972.
But with a long way still to go before construction of FIVE and Nicholas is complete, it’s already obvious that both new buildings will exude an even more powerful presence on the landscape once they have attained their full height. As of this weekend, construction of Nicholas has reached the 27th level on the way to 35, with cladding and windows installed up to the 13th floor so far. Two blocks down the street, construction of FIVE Condos has climbed to the 16th storey — exactly one-third of its way to the building’s final 48 floors. Installation of that tower’s cladding has not yet begun.
Meanwhile, the One Bloor condo project is poised to begin an equally remarkable transformation of views up the east side of Yonge Street. Rising at the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor Streets, One Bloor will ultimately top off at 75 floors, completely reshaping the Yorkville skyline and one of the country’s most famous crossroads in the process.
November 27 2013: Looking toward the One Bloor condo construction site from one block to the south, at the intersection of Yonge and Charles Streets.
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A shattered glass panel is visible on a balcony at the Shangri-La Toronto hotel and condo tower on the northwest corner of Adelaide Street and University Avenue. This image is a screen capture from a video report on cp24.com.
More breakage: It has happened yet again — another balcony panel on the 66-storey Shangri-La Toronto hotel and condo tower has shattered, raining pieces of glass onto a major downtown street.
According to local news reports, no-one was injured when pieces of glass fell onto Adelaide Street when the balcony panel broke around 1.30 a.m. today. Police immediately closed the street to traffic so they could investigate the mishap. Adelaide Street was reopened to traffic around 10:30 a.m., the Toronto Star reported in its Sunday online edition.
Local news station CP24 posted a video of the scene on its website. The tape showed a shattered balcony panel on the Shangri-La tower’s southwest corner, about 20 storeys above Adelaide Street. The CP24 reporter noted that this marked the third time this year alone that a glass panel had shattered and fallen from the tower, which officially opened in October 2012.
The first instance occurred on a very cold day last January, at which time glass from a shattered panel fell onto Adelaide Street. The second event occurred last September. In that case, the CP24 reporter said, the falling glass injured a man on University Avenue. A Toronto Star report on the September incident said that a 53-year-old man was treated at hospital for the minor injuries he suffered when some of the glass struck his head.
Last night’s incident comes in the wake of the broadcast premier this past Thursday night of a documentary film entitled The Condo Game, which I previewed in a November 18 2013 post. That film, which examines the pitfalls and potential future problems posed by Toronto’s continuing condominium building boom, had been inspired by a series of balcony glass breakages at three downtown condo towers in the summer of 2011.
So far, there has been no word from Toronto police or City building inspectors as to what may have caused the balcony panel to break today.
A CN Tower view of the Shangri-La Toronto hotel and condo tower on June 3 2013
November 14 2013: A view of the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condo tower at the corner of St Patrick Street and Michael Sweet Avenue
November 16 2013: As glass panels gradually get installed on higher floors, the colourful facade of the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condominium highrise is really starting to stand out in the Grange area of downtown Toronto. This is a view of the building from half a block to the south, on St Patrick Street.
Shades of blue: It’s amazing to see how one colourful new condo highrise can brighten an entire neighbourhood and quickly improve the look and feel of a dreary street in the process.
The eastern section of Toronto’s Grange neighbourhood — in particular, the area bordered by Dundas Street to the north, St Patrick Street to the west, Queen Street to the south, and University Avenue to the east — has long been a dull landscape of brown brick and beige concrete buildings.
Michael Sweet Avenue, a 1-block-long cross street in the middle of this zone, was anything but sweet. Until recently, two unsightly parking garages extended the full length of the avenue between St Patrick and Simcoe Streets, one on each side of the road.
A 5-level above-ground parking garage still occupies the entire south side of the street. Though its concrete walls aren’t solid, it’s still a hulking, dark and drab-looking structure that looms large above adjacent sidewalks.
Two windowless walls used to dominate the north side of the street. One, its dirty white paint peeling off, was part of a narrow, low-rise parking facility built next to the sidewalk. Rising 54 meters behind it — roughly the height of a 14-storey residential highrise — was the solid textured wall of a Bell Canada utility building. Thanks to the unattractive blank walls and the pair of parking garages, Michael Sweet Avenue has never been a pleasant pedestrian environment, but only a convenient way to move between Simcoe and St Patrick Streets. Functional, but ugly.
But all of that is quickly changing as construction continues on the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condo building.
February 18 2011: The view from St Patrick Street, looking east along Michael Sweet Avenue. At left is the future 210 Simcoe condo site — at this time still a low-rise parking garage that extends all the way to Simcoe Street. Beside it is a Bell Canada building at 220 Simcoe. On the right is a 5-level above-ground parking garage that also extends all the way to Simcoe Street. Toronto City Hall, located just a few blocks to the east east, is visible in the background.
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When nature calls, construction crews working on the upper levels of the Aura condo tower at College Park get to use this portable toilet …
… perched high above the northwest corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets — about 76 storeys above the ground when I shot this photo on November 14.
Sky-high porta potty: Construction isn’t finished yet, but the Aura condo building at College Park already ranks as the tallest residential tower in the country. It probably holds another record, too — for having the highest outdoor toilet of any urban area in Canada.
As Aura has steadily climbed higher towards its final residential floorcount of 78 storeys, a porta potty has moved upward one new floor at a time as well, situated since May near the tower’s southeast corner.
But Aura isn’t the only downtown building site boasting sky-high outdoor toilet facilities for construction crews. The top-level porta potties on the two ÏCE Condominiums towers rising at 12 and 14 York Street have also reached dizzying heights as those buildings have ascended toward their final 57- and 67-storey floorcounts.
September 4 2013: A view of the two ÏCE Condominiums towers on York Street, at which time construction was continuing on the mechanical penthouse levels for the 57-storey building at 12 York Street (left). Two outdoor porta potties are visible on the southeast corner of the 14 York Street condo (right) about 60 storeys above street level. That tower will top off at 67 floors.
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November 22 2013: A rainy morning view of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East in the Church-Wellesley Village …
… where the City has posted this sign advising the public that a developer has applied to build a 28-storey residential tower on the site
New plan for Village site: A 28-storey residential tower with street-level retail space has been proposed for the Church-Wellesley Village site where a developer last year proposed building a 29-storey condo highrise in place of a Victorian-era mansion and coach house it had hastily demolished — much to the dismay and ire of neighbourhood residents.
The 182-suite, 95.7-meter-tall tower is proposed for 81 Wellesley Street East, former location of the Odette House mansion and coach house that for years had been occupied by Wellspring, a cancer support organization. Wellspring listed the property for sale when it decided to relocate to larger premises, and a small company called Icarus Developments acquired the site.
I shot this photo of the Odette House mansion at 81 Wellesley Street East on September 27 2011. The building, and a coach house behind it, were destroyed by the property’s new owner a little more than three months later.
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November 19 2013: A view of construction progress on The Yorkville Condominiums, rising at the corner of Davenport Road and McMurrich Street
Climbing higher: Reconstruction of the Davenport Road & Bay Street intersection isn’t the only distraction for motorists driving through Yorkville these days — construction of The Yorkville Condominiums tower is changing the look and feel of the landscape, too.
Work on the building’s concrete frame has passed the 10 floor mark, bringing the structure nearly one-third of the way to its 31-storey final floorcount. Even with completion still a long ways off, the building already exerts a strong presence on Davenport Road, and is drawing some attention away from The Florian, a recently-finished condominium right next door to the west.
A project of Lifetime Developments, The Yorkville Condominiums was designed by Toronto’s Wallman Architects. The 233-suite project includes tower suites as well as six luxury townhomes along the McMurrich Street side of the property. The building interiors have been designed by Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc., and renderings of their work for The Yorkville can be viewed on the firm’s website.
This was how The Yorkville Condominiums site appeared only three years ago (November 1 2010, to be precise), before construction had commenced. The Florian condo tower next door was just halfway up, and several low-rise buildings still occupied The Yorkville’s prime corner site. Those buildings had formerly housed offices for the firm of Moriyama and Teshima Architects.
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‘Sea of troubles’: If you have attended any of the community consultation meetings that Toronto city planners have held to gather public feedback on new condo development proposals, you’ve probably heard someone in the audience wonder why the city needs yet another residential highrise building, especially in the downtown core where scores of towers are currently under construction already.
The typical response, usually offered by someone representing a project developer, explains that more than 100,000 people a year move to the Greater Toronto Area, and points out that “those people have to live somewhere.” Consequently, more and more condos are being proposed — and built — simply to meet the burgeoning demand. Often, a city planner will chime in to clarify that only 20,000 of those people actually move into the City of Toronto itself — a significantly smaller number, but a sizeable population increase nonetheless. I’ve heard these statistics and explanations cited at more than a dozen public meetings I’ve attended during the past year alone.
But Toronto’s condominium building boom, which has been going strong for more than a decade, isn’t about finding homes for those newcomers and other people who want to live in the city because it’s such a desirable place to live, work and play. According to a documentary film that will be broadcast on CBC Television Thursday night,the condo boom actually is a game that’s being played, on a global scale, for people to make money. And as this “commodities” game continues to play on, there are growing indications that it’s “rigged” against the city and its citizens, and could pose serious and costly consequences for them in the years ahead, The Condo Game documentary suggests.
“The Condo Game examines the forces at play behind the fastest moving condo market in North America – Toronto – and discovers that the glittering glass hides a sea of troubles,” says a film description on the CBC’s Doc Zone webpage.
As the film reveals a tide of construction deficiencies and maintenance problems that are sweeping Toronto toward a “tipping point,” “warning bells will be ringing loud and clear for cities and condo-owners across Canada,” the Doc Zone program description says.
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Over 30: The Theatre Park condo tower continues to make its mark on the Entertainment District skyline as construction continues to climb higher above King Street West.
The concrete shell for the tower, which will boast 47 residential floors when finished, is roughly two-thirds of the way up. Work was underway on the 30th and 31st floors when I passed by late last week, with a new level being poured about every three to four days. Window and cladding installation is nearly complete on floors 7, 8 and 9.
An artistic rendering of the 47-storey Theatre Park condo tower, designed by Toronto’s architectsAlliance.
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November 14 2013: Construction has reached the 12th floor of Peter Street Condominiums at the northeast corner of Adelaide and Peter Streets …
… while at the opposite end of the same block, the ground level of Tableau Condos continues to take shape at Peter & Richmond Streets. The two condo towers will bookend the 9-story office building that sits in the middle of the block at 111 Peter Street.
One block, two towers: The east side of Peter Street between Richmond and Adelaide Streets is changing dramatically as construction continues to progress on two new condominium towers that will also transform the Entertainment District skyline and streetscapes in the process.
At the southeast corner of Peter and Adelaide, work on the Peter Street Condominium tower has climbed above the 11th level, bringing the building nearly one-third of the way to its ultimate 40-storey floorcount.
Just a few meters north, at the corner of Peter and Richmond, construction is progressing on the ground level of Tableau Condos, a 36-storey tower that will stand atop a distinctive table-shaped podium supported by long, tall column “legs.”
Artistic illustrations of both buildings, along with construction progress photos shot this week, can be viewed on page 2 of this post.
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Globe and Mail Publisher Phillip Crawley, left, OpTrust President & CEO Bill Hatanaka, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities Brad Duguid, First Gulf Corporation CEO David Gerofsky, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell wield shiny silver shovels at the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new Globe and Mail Centre at King & Berkeley Streets.
Construction kick-off: For the past half-dozen years, Toronto’s southeast downtown has been teeming with a variety of low-, mid- and high-rise residential construction projects that have been steadily transforming the city’s Old Town, Corktown, Distillery District and West Don Lands areas. A new 500,000 square foot office tower that First Gulf Corporation has started building at King, Berkeley and Front Streets will boost the region’s revitalization even more, bringing up to 5,000 jobs to the bustling area.
First Gulf Corporation recently broke ground on its 17-storey Globe and Mail Centre, named after the building’s anchor tenant, The Globe and Mail newspaper, which will relocate from its current premises near Front Street and Spadina Avenue on the west side of downtown. Local politicians joined executives from The Globe and Mail, plus First Gulf and its development partner OPTrust, in an October 30 ground-breaking ceremony that officially kicked off construction of the Centre. Completion of the tower is anticipated for 2016.
Designed by Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects, The Globe and Mail Centre will cut a unique profile on the southeast downtown skyline thanks to the building’s distinctive design of stacked, alternate-sized floor plates and large outdoor terrace spaces. Ten-foot-tall windows will let natural light penetrate deep into the building interior, while presenting occupants with expansive views of Toronto’s waterfront, Financial District, and adjacent residential neighbourhoods.
This artistic illustration, by Diamond Schmitt Architects, shows how the Globe & Mail Centre will look when viewed from the southeast along Berkeley Street
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