Drilling rigs ready to rumble at Ten York condo site

10 York Street condo tower

January 18 2014: An Anchor Shoring rig stands on the site where Tridel will build its skyline-changing Ten York condominium tower. 

 

 

10 York condo tower

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.

Foundation drilling rigs are in place at 10 York Street, where Tridel will build its highly successful Ten York tower, one of 2012′s best-selling condominium projects.

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.

 

Ten York condo 

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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Underground floors filling in fast for 1 York Street office building & Harbour Plaza condo towers

Artistic rendering of the One York Street office tower and 90 Harbour Street condo towers by Menkes Developments

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

 

 

1 York Street office tower

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…

 

 

1 York Street and 90 Harbour Street

… 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.

 

1 York Street

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.

 

 

1 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

 

 

1 York Street

December 3 2013: Underground levels are quickly taking shape

 

 

 1 York Street

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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Posted in 1 York/90 Harbour, 1 York/90 Harbour, 60 Harbour Street, 90 Harbour Street, below street grade construction, Construction activity in progress, Heritage & Historic buildings, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Office buildings, Pit stop: below grade building progress, South Financial District, Toronto condos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demolition of elevated podium segment marks start of apartment tower project on Sherbourne Street

545-555 Sherbourne Street

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

 

 

545-555 Sherbourne Street

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.

 

565, 555 and 545 Sherbourne Street Toronto

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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Ivory on Adelaide & Post House condo towers adding more height to Toronto’s Old Town area

Post House Condos

December 10 2013: Looking up the west side of the Post House Condominium under construction on George Street, just a few steps north of Adelaide Street, in Toronto’s historic Old Town neighbourhood

 

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.

 

Ivory on Adelaide Condos

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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Posted in Architecture & Construction, Bank of Upper Canada Building, Construction activity in progress, de la Salle Institute Building, Downtown East, highrises and skyscrapers, Ivory on Adelaide, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Post House Condos, Toronto condos, Toronto's First Post Office 260 Adelaide East, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A peek at the Pace Condos construction site

Pace Condos

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.

 

Pace Condos

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.

 

 

Pace Condos

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.

 

Posted in below street grade construction, Construction activity in progress, Downtown East, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Pace condos, Pit stop: below grade building progress, Toronto condos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fashion House Condos photo update

Fashion House Condos

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.

 

 

Posted in 570 King Street West, Construction activity in progress, Fashion House condos, Heritage & Historic buildings, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, King Street West, mid-rise developments, projects nearing completion, Toronto condos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

King Charlotte condo’s ground level takes shape

King Charlotte condos

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.

 

King Charlotte condo rendering

The King Charlotte condominium tower was designed by Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance. This rendering appears on the King Charlotte project website.

 

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Nicholas & FIVE condos making big visual impact on Yonge Street; 1 Bloor tower set to follow suit

north downtown Yonge Street

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.

 

One Bloor condos

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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Posted in 1 Bloor East, Architecture & Construction, Bloor-Yonge neighbourhood, Construction activity in progress, FIVE Condos, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Nicholas Residences, The changing city skyline, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller, Yonge-Wellesley area | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glass balcony panel shatters on Shangri-La tower

Shangrila Toronto shattered balcony panel

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.

 

Living Shangri-La Toronto hotel and condo tower

A CN Tower view of the Shangri-La Toronto hotel and condo tower on June 3 2013

 

Posted in Financial District, highrises and skyscrapers, Hotels, In the news, Living Shangri-la Toronto, Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, Toronto condos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

No. 210 Simcoe condo tower’s blue-hued glass facade brightens its east Grange neighbourhood

No 210 Simcoe Residences

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

 

 

No 210 Simcoe Residences

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.

 

Michael Sweet Avenue Toronto

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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Posted in 210 Simcoe Street, AGO-Grange district, Construction activity in progress, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Aura condo tower’s other height record

Aura condo tower Toronto

When nature calls, construction crews working on the upper levels of the Aura condo tower at College Park get to use this portable toilet …

 

 

Aura condo tower Toronto

… 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.

 

ICE Condo towers

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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Posted in Architecture & Construction, Aura condos, Central downtown, Construction activity in progress, highrises and skyscrapers, ÏCE condos, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, South Financial District, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New development application proposes 28-storey tower for controversial site at 81 Wellesley East

81 Wellesley Street East Toronto

November 22 2013: A rainy morning view of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East in the Church-Wellesley Village …

 

 

81 Wellesley East Toronto

… 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.

 

Odette House 81 Wellesley Street East

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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The Yorkville Condominiums on the rise

The Yorkville Condominium

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.

More photos of The Yorkville can be seen on page 2 of this post and in The Yorkville Condominiums album on thetorontoblog.com’s Flickr page.

 

The Yorkville Condominiums

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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‘Condo Game’ documentary aims to shine light on the dark side of Toronto’s condo building boom

 A promotional clip for the documentary film The Condo Game, which will air on CBC-TV’s Doc Zone Thursday evening at 9 p.m. Update: You can now view the documentary at this link on the CBC website.

 

‘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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Theatre Park condo rising higher above King St.

Theatre Park Condos

November 14 2013: The Theatre Park condo tower continues its upward climb next door to Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street West

 

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.

 

Theatre Park condo

An artistic rendering of the 47-storey Theatre Park condo tower, designed by Toronto’s architectsAlliance.

 

 

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Posted in Construction activity in progress, Heritage & Historic buildings, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Theatre Park condos, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Street condo tower continues to climb as nearby Tableau Condos gradually gets its legs

Peter Street Condominiums construction progress

November 14 2013: Construction has reached the 12th floor of Peter Street Condominiums at the northeast corner of Adelaide and Peter Streets …

 

 

Tableau Condos construction progress

… 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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Posted in buildings climbing above street grade, Construction activity in progress, Entertainment District, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Peter Street condos, Tableau condos, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Gulf breaks ground for Globe & Mail Centre; 17-storey tower will bring jobs to SE downtown

Phillip Crawley, Bill Hatanaka, Brad Duguid, David Gerofsky, Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Pam McConnell

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.

 

Gobe and Mail Centre building rendering

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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Posted in Construction activity in progress, demolitions and site preparation, Globe & Mail Centre, In the news, mid-rise developments, Office buildings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Downtown skyline views from the Toronto Islands

The downtown Toronto skyline as seen from Ward's Island

A Ward’s Island view of the downtown Toronto skyline earlier this month

 

Pics and video: A lunchtime bikeride on the Toronto Islands earlier this month gave me a chance to check out how much the downtown skyline has changed in the one-year period since my last trip to the islands.

Although there are dozens and dozens of condo towers and several office highrises under construction in downtown Toronto, only a handful of projects have so far made a significant impact on the skyline views.

The southwest downtown core is now dominated by the two ÏCE Condominium towers which are still under construction on York Street, while the nearby Delta Hotel tower at Southcore Financial Centre on Bremner Boulevard also makes a big impact from some perspectives. 

Off to the west, the Library District Condominium tower is a noteworthy addition to the Concord CityPlace skyline; a year ago, only its construction crane was visible.

Over on the southeast side of the downtown core, The L Tower is the most eye-catching new building, with the water’s edge Residences of Pier 27 also commanding attention even though it’s only a midrise condominium project.  Much farther east, the Distillery District is easier to locate now that construction is drawing closer to completion on the Gooderham Tower.

 

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Posted in 500 Sherbourne, Architecture & Construction, Aura condos, Bloor-Jarvis neighbourhood, Bremner Tower, Central downtown, city icons and landmarks, CityPlace, Clear Spirit condos, CN Tower, Construction activity in progress, Delta Toronto, Distillery District, Gooderham condos, highrises and skyscrapers, Hotels, ÏCE condos, Infinity3 condos, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Market Wharf condos, Office buildings, Pier 27, projects nearing completion, South Financial District, St Lawrence Market area and The Esplanade, The changing city skyline, The L Tower, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller, Waterfront, Wellesley-Sherbourne area, X Condos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SickKids tower brings brilliance to Bay Street

The SickKids Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at Bay & Elm Streets in downtown Toronto

SickKids Hospital will open its new Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning next week. The 21-floor tower, seen here on August 29 from the intersection of Bay and Edward Streets, was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with HDR Architecture.

 

Shimmer and shine: When SickKids Hospital commenced construction of its Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning three years ago, the project website promised that the $400 million building would become an “architectural landmark” as well as a “beacon” that would attract the “best and brightest child health professionals” from around the world.

With construction nearly wrapped up and the building set to open on September 17, it’s now clear that the project’s designers — Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with HDR Architecture — have delivered the splendidly-designed facility that executives at the world-famous children’s hospital could only dream of when they began planning the project more than a decade ago.

It’s also obvious that the Peter Gilgan Centre has become the luminous beacon that was pledged for Toronto’s Discovery District — in more ways than one.  Standing 22 storeys tall, the turquoise glass tower shimmers and shines at the corner of Bay and Elm Streets, drawing attention for blocks in every direction. It will bring together under one roof 2,000 scientists who have been scattered in six different locations downtown. And once they’ve settled into their bright, airy labs and cheerful meeting spaces, they will get their turn to shine, developing new ideas and sharing research information that will transform the way children’s health care is provided.

The Centre’s research and education professionals, who will begin moving in later this month, could not have asked for a more inspiring and uplifting work environment. 

 

SickKids Tower Toronto

September 11 2013: Sign installation on the east side of the tower. The Centre is named for lead donor Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes.

 

 

SickKids Tower Toronto

September 11 2013: A crew continues work on the SickKids logo being installed near the upper right corner of the building’s south face

 

 

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Posted in Architecture & Construction, Construction activity in progress, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, projects nearing completion, Research and Innovation centres, SickKids tower | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5th floor work brings FIVE condo tower into view

Construction of FIVE Condos as seen from the east along Dundonald Street

 August 25 2013: Construction of the tower component of the FIVE Condos project at Yonge & St Joseph is now visible from the east along Dundonald Street.

 

Five floors up: Now that construction of FIVE Condos at Yonge and St Joseph Streets has reached the fifth floor, residents to the east are beginning to see how significantly the 48-storey tower will change the look and feel of their neighbourhood.

Until last week, it was difficult to monitor construction progress on the tower. Nestled behind a row of 3.5 to 4-storey heritage buildings along Yonge Street, as well as a 4-level heritage building facade propped up by giant steel supports on St Joseph Street, the construction could be seen at street level from only a couple of places. The Yonge & St Joseph intersection has been the best vantage spot, while the corner of Phipps Street and St Nicholas Street on the west side of the project site has offered an alternative but awkward view of the building activity.

However, construction is now visible to people approaching from Dundonald Street on the east side of Yonge. Work on the tower’s fifth floor can clearly be seen behind the row of historic buildings at 606 to 618 Yonge that will be restored as part of the redevelopment project. The tower is also starting to come into view from part of Wellesley Street one block to the south, and within just a few weeks should be obvious from the intersection of Yonge & Wellesley Streets as well as farther up and down Yonge.

 

FIVE Condos tower construction viewed from the east side of Yonge Street at St Joseph Street

August 30 2013: Construction of the FIVE Condos tower is now rising above the heritage buildings along Yonge Street  (left) and the retained facade of the Rawlinson Cartage warehouse building on St Joseph Street (right).

 

 

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Posted in Construction activity in progress, FIVE Condos, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller, Yonge-Wellesley area | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Theatre Park condo climbing higher on King Street

Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: Nearly 1/3 of its way to 47 storeys, the Theatre Park condo tower already dwarfs Toronto’s historic Royal Alexandra Theatre

 

Stealing the show: When I last posted photos of the Theatre Park condos back in the spring (see my April 18 2013 post), construction was just beginning to overtake the height of neighbouring heritage buildings, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Three-quarters of the way through summer, the tower has now grown to about one-third of its ultimate 47-storey height. And as it continues climbing higher, Theatre Park undoubtedly will keep stealing attention from the 106-year-old landmark next door.

A project of Lamb Development Corp, Niche Development and Harhay Construction Management Ltd., the Theatre Park condominium tower was designed by architectsAlliance.

The slender point tower still has some suites available for purchase — at prices starting from $489,900, according to the condo website.

Below are several more construction progress photos I shot recently. The Theatre Park Condos album on TheTorontoBlog’s Flickr page contains several dozen photos of construction activity since December 2012.

 

Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: Tower podium viewed from the south side of King Street

 

 

Theatre Park condos

August 19 2013: Tower construction has climbed past the 16th level

 

 

Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: The Theatre Park tower continues to rise higher above the 106-year-old Royal Alexandra Theatre

 

 

Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: The 66-storey Living Shangri-la Toronto hotel and condo tower (right) looks on as Theatre Park continues its climb above the Entertainment District

 

 

 

Posted in Architecture & Construction, Construction activity in progress, Entertainment District, Heritage & Historic buildings, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Theatre Park condos, Toronto condos, towers climbing taller | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A peek at the Pier 27 waterfront condos

August 19 2013 view of the two buildings on the east side of the Pier 27 Condos site

August 19 2013: Most windows have been installed on the two east buildings at The Residences of Pier 27 condo site, but installation hasn’t yet begun on the SkyBridge linking them. The steel frames for the SkyBridge were built a year ago.

 

Waterfront wonders: Judging by the positive reaction of passersby, The Residences of Pier 27 prove that imaginatively-designed midrise condo buildings can be just as attention-grabbing and impressive as soaring 70-storey skyscrapers.

I don’t get down to the lakefront as often as I would like to monitor progress on the Pier 27 project, but each time I do I’m amazed by the number of people who are captivated by the construction.

In particular, passersby are fascinated with the 3-storey-tall SkyBridges than span the tops of the four towers currently under construction on Queen’s Quay Boulevard East, near the foot of Yonge Street.

“Wow” is the most common comment, while many people say how much they would “love” to live in one of the lake-facing SkyBridge penthouses and enjoy the fabulous views of the Toronto Islands. People I chat with — many of whom are tourists — think the building design is striking, and a refreshing change from the skyscraper condos that have been rising throughout the downtown area. I can’t recall any negative or highly critical comments about the buildings, which were designed by Peter Clewes of Toronto’s architectsAlliance.

The Residences of Pier 27 is a project of Cityzen Developments and Fernbrook Homes.

Below is a link to the Pier 27 Condos album from TheTorontoBlog’s Flickr page. It contains more than 60 recent pics of construction progress.

 

Above is a link to dozens of recent photos showing construction progress at The Residences of Pier 27 condo construction site. Click twice on the image to view the photos in full-size format.

 

Posted in Construction activity in progress, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, mid-rise developments, Pier 27, Toronto condos, Waterfront | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ripley’s Aquarium aims for September opening

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Construction work continues on the building exterior as Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada gears up for its September opening. Below is an artistic rendering that shows how the building will look once complete.

 

Ripley's Canada Aquarium rendering

 

 

Buy now: The wait to see Toronto’s newest tourist attraction is nearly over.

With its public opening set for September, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is now selling advance admission tickets on its website. The “pre-opening” passes, which cost $29.98 for adults and $19.98 for seniors over 65 and kids aged 4 to 13, will be valid for entry to the aquarium for up to one year after date of purchase.

The aquarium, which has been under construction since August 2011, has long targeted a “summer of 2013″ opening. Thousands of Canadians eager to view sharks from the Dangerous Reef’s underwater tunnel had been hoping they could visit the aquarium during the summer school break, but construction didn’t finish in time. The precise opening date in September still hasn’t been announced.

Extensive information about the attraction is available on the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada website.

I posted construction photos in reports published on August 18 2011, August 17 2012, and October 14 2012.  Pictures showing how the aquarium site (on Bremner Boulevard at the base of the CN Tower) looked prior to construction can be viewed in my February 3 2011 report about the project.

More than 200 photos showing the various stages of construction during the past two years can be viewed in the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada album on TheTorontoBlog’s Facebook page.

 

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Work continues on the aquarium’s main entrance as well as the new pedestrian plaza it will share with the CN Tower.

 

 

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: A view of the aquarium from the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the nearby Rogers Centre.

 

 

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: “Pre-sale” tickets are available from the aquarium’s website

 

Posted in Architecture & Construction, arts and culture venues, Construction activity in progress, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, projects nearing completion, Ripley Toronto Aquarium, Ripley Toronto Aquarium, tourist attractions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

One Bloor condo building progress finally in view

One Bloor condo construction is now visible above the sidewalk hoarding

August 17 2013: Work on the 75-storey One Bloor condo tower finally comes into view as podium construction climbs above the sidewalk scaffolding …

 

 

Buildings at the SE corner of Yonge & Bloor being demolished in August 2008

… five years after demolition machines razed the low-rise retail, restaurant and office buildings that had occupied the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor

 

 

Show time: It has taken five years, but people passing through the bustling Yonge & Bloor intersection can once again see a building structure (albeit one still in the very early stages of construction) standing on the southeast corner.

Five years ago this month, the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor was surrounded by scaffolding, above which passersby could see demolition machines razing the upper floors of several low-rise retail, restaurant and office buildings that had occupied the corner property for decades. They were clearing away the old structures — and the pedestrian-friendly Roy’s Square lane behind them — to make room for construction of a highly-hyped 80-storey condo, hotel & retail complex that developer Bazis International called 1 Bloor.

With a promised “iconic” design, 1 Bloor would become a striking new landmark for the Yonge & Bloor area, and claim bragging rights to the title of tallest residential building in Canada. Prospective purchasers lined up for days before the presentation centre opened and, once it did, units sold like hot cakes.

By mid-September of 2008 the old buildings on the 1 Bloor site were completely demolished, leaving nothing but a big empty lot for passersby to see through security fences set up around the property. Architecture and building buffs — not to mention all the people who had bought condos at 1 Bloor — anxiously awaited word that construction was about to start.

 

1 Bloor promotional billboard November 13 2007

November 13 2007: This billboard advertised the original 1 Bloor condo tower that developer Bazis International had planned for the site.

 

 

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Posted in 1 Bloor East, Bloor-Yonge neighbourhood, buildings climbing above street grade, Construction activity in progress, highrises and skyscrapers, Keeping tabs on... progress updates, Toronto condos | Tagged , , | 1 Comment