November 1 2011: A mid-morning view of Maple Leaf Gardens at the northwest corner of Church & Carlton Streets
Coming soon: “When is it finally going to open?” That question is almost constantly on the minds of thousands of people who live and work near the intersection of Church and Carlton Streets, where construction activity both inside and outside the Maple Leaf Gardens building continues at a relentless pace.
For residents of nearby condos, co-ops and apartments, the long-overdue opening of the historic hockey arena’s new occupants — including a Loblaws grocery store, an LCBO liquor outlet, and Ryerson University’s Athletics Centre at the Gardens — won’t happen soon enough. They are weary from months of traffic restrictions on sidewalks and streets adjacent to the Gardens, as well as the daily disruption, dirt and noise from both construction work and the heavy concrete trucks, equipment and supply vehicles, and portable cranes that steadily stream to and from the project site.
Also eagerly anticipating an end to construction are hockey and heritage fans, as well as countless other people who are simply curious to see how the Gardens’ interior has been transformed during the two years since the revitalization project began.
Relief for all is now in the foreseeable future since the grocery store appears poised for a possible November opening, while the Ryerson athletic centre is on track for completion and occupancy sometime during the upcoming winter months.
Massive recruitment drive
Although a Loblaws spokesperson told me yesterday that details for the grocery store opening date haven’t been determined yet, the neighbourhood has been buzzing with word it could be open for business in as few as two to three weeks’ time. Loblaws recently launched a massive recruitment drive, hiring hundreds of part-time staff to work in what is shaping up to become the chain’s premier flagship store. Several new staff told me they’ve been training at various Toronto Loblaws stores during the past three weeks. They said they initially were advised they would be working in the Gardens by the end of this week, but the date was pushed back and they’re now expecting to start work in the new store shortly after the middle of the month. Similarly, staff at a nearby liquor store said they have been told the new LCBO Gardens outlet should be open sometime between the middle and end of November. From what I could see through windows and open doors earlier this week, however, a Loblaws opening closer to December appears more likely.
Meanwhile, Ryerson students will have to wait several more months before they’ll get to check out the university’s new sports and recreation facilities. According to the Ryerson University website, the sports centre is expected to be completed and ready for occupancy in “winter 2012.” A status update on the website says some of the construction activity currently underway includes “work on the roof dormers along the west side of the dome roof. Roof dormers are connected to the dome and are openings that provide ventilation to allow air to flow into the arena from the mechanical system. Work on the Carlton Street marquee is also underway; this canopy over the main entrance is being reinforced by additional steel and is being prepared for the installation of the historic ‘Maple Leaf Gardens’ signage. The installation of glass windows on the street level, light fixtures in the stairwells and the fire alarm system is also in progress. Work on the mechanical system continues, including installing piping for the gas, sprinkler and the hot and cold water systems.”
The Loblaw Companies Limited website doesn’t provide any information about its Gardens location, but the Ryerson University website says the architectural team for the Gardens transformation includes Turner Fleischer Architects Inc. for the “base building” and BBB Architects Inc. for the “Ryerson fit up.” Heritage consultant is E.R.A. Architects Inc.
Below are some of my recent photos of activity on the outside of Maple Leaf Gardens. I haven’t been able to photograph inside the building; however, if you want to see what’s been happening there, the Ryerson Builds webpage features a slideshow with 42 photographs showing construction activity inside the Gardens between January 2010 and September of this year (I have posted one of those pics below). The homepage of the Turner Fleischer website includes a direct link to more photos, from December 2009 to October 2010, in an album entitled “Maple Leaf Gardens Progress.” Additional photos can be viewed in my previous posts on the Gardens makeover: June 14 2011, April 14 2011, and March 29 2011.
From the Ryerson Builds webpage, this photo from September 2011 shows building progress on the NHL-sized hockey rink at the university’s new athletics centre. A slideshow on the webpage includes 41 more photos of construction activity inside Maple Leaf Gardens.
November 1 2011: The Carlton Street facade of Maple Leaf Gardens. The public sidewalk next to the building, along with one lane of westbound traffic, have been closed virtually all of this year.
November 1 2011: The canopy over the Carlton Street entrance is being reinforced with extra steel. Maple Leaf Gardens signage will be installed on the marquee.
November 1 2011: The entrance to the Loblaws grocery store will be at the Gardens’ southeast corner.
November 1 2011: Part of the frame for the corner canopy was put in place several weeks ago, but entrance doors haven’t yet been installed
September 3 2011: Looking west from Church Street at the sidewalk and street closure along the Gardens’ Carlton Street facade.
October 1 2011: Passersby will be able to see into the new Loblaws grocery store through these windows which were installed in the Gardens’ Church Street facade
October 8 2011: Another view of the new windows along Church Street
November 1 2011: New sidewalks being installed on Church Street
November 1 2011: Although new sidewalks are being installed on Church Street, work on the east wall of the Gardens is far from finished
November 1 2011: Grocery store windows on the east side of the building. Traffic on Church Street was restricted during sidewalk replacement work.
November 1 2011: The northeast corner of Maple Leaf Gardens, at Church and Wood Streets. The stretch of Wood Street next to the Gardens is usually crowded with cranes, concrete trucks, heavy construction vehicles and equipment.
November 1 2011: Newly-installed windows near the northeast corner of the building. During the spring and summer, this was one of three separate spots where concrete trucks and other vehicles could access the interior of the Gardens.
November 1 2011: A crew uses a portable lift to work on the Wood Street facade. A red construction elevator rises from the building’s north side, providing access to the Ryerson sports facilities being built on the upper levels inside the Gardens.
November 1 2011: Looking east along Wood Street at the external construction elevator and a truck delivering concrete for the Ryerson Athletics Centre at the Gardens. This stretch of street is usually jammed with cranes, lifts and trucks.
November 1 2011: Trailer-sized mechanical equipment on the roof of the Gardens dwarf two construction supervisors looking down onto Church Street.
August 2 2011: This mechanical equipment is a new Gardens fixture; it was installed only this year, during the spring and summer.
November 3 2011: Two men on a portable lift work on the Church Street facade