Category Archives: Heritage & Historic buildings

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.




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




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’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.



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.




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.




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




Plans for 29-storey condo tower founder as Odette mansion site at 81 Wellesley East is listed for sale

81 Wellesley Street East

April 29 2013: A “for sale” sign has been posted in front of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East …



Odette House 81 Wellesley Street East

… where a century-old mansion and coach house stood until January 2012 when the buildings were hastily demolished after new owners took possession …



81 Wellesley Street East proposed condo

… with plans to construct a 29-storey condo tower in their place. The proposed highrise is depicted in this artistic illustration by Toronto’s Core Architects



Back on the market: A controversial condo tower development planned for the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village appears to be dead now that the property has been listed for sale.

As I reported in an October 17 2012 post, a small Toronto firm called Icarus Developments held an informational meeting last fall to publicly reveal its plans to build a 29-storey, 200-unit condo tower at 81 Wellesley Street East. Designed by Toronto’s Core Architects, the highrise would occupy a vacant piece of land that had been occupied for many decades by two by heritage-character buildings — the Odette House mansion and a coach house behind it — that were hurriedly demolished in January 2012.

The surprise demolition — and the brazen manner in which the buildings were razed — outraged local residents as well as Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who only a few weeks earlier had initiated procedures under which city staff would consider whether Odette House could be designated as a heritage property (see my January 19 2012 post for photos and a report about the demolition incident).




Theatre Park condo tower construction begins to climb above heritage neighbours on King Street

Theatre Park condo

April 17 2013: With the concrete frame for its podium in place, construction of the Theatre Park condo tower is set to rise above the neighbouring heritage buildings on King Street West, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre at 260 King West, left, and the Nicholls Building at 220 King West, right




Winter building pics: March 2013

 My March 2013 album on Flickr features more than 500 photos showing dozens of downtown construction projects and building sites. Click once on the image above to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the actual album where you can view individual full-size photos with captions.



Frozen fingers: It’s only a few days into spring and I’m still sorting through hundreds of building and construction photos I took during the winter. What has struck me the most is how gloomy and grey the city looked most of the time. Sunny, clear days were few and far between — and when they came, it was usually too bitterly cold and windy for me to risk freezing my fingers by wandering around with my camera.

I did manage a few long photo walks, though, and have been gradually posting the pics in albums on’s Flickr photostream.  Above is a link to my fourth winter photo album, March 2013.




Fashion House Condos’ stacked glass box design taking shape as construction climbs to 10th floor

Fashion House Condos

November 23 2010: Hoarding surrounds the historic Toronto Silver Plate Building at 570 King Street West before excavation commenced behind it for the new Fashion House Condos development. The city-designated heritage building will be restored and incorporated into the new condo complex for commercial uses.



Fashion House Condos

January 10 2013: The L-shaped King Building of the Fashion House condo complex climbs above the north and east sides of the Toronto Silver Plate Building as construction reaches the 10th floor, with 2 floors still to be built



Fashion House Condos

November 23 2010: A view of the Fashion House condo site from King Street shortly before foundation drilling and shoring work began.



Fashion House Condos

February 6 2013: The concrete frame for the new building has reached 10 storeys, while window and cladding installation has begun on three floors


Designer digs: With construction of Fashion House Condos now up to 10 floors and just a few weeks away from topping off at 12, the building’s stacked platform design is becoming more apparent to passersby on King Street West. Installation of floor-to-ceiling windows on three floors, so far, also indicates that the condo interiors will be cheery, bright spaces regardless of whether the sky is cloudy or clear — unless residents choose  to keep the building’s signature lipstick-red curtains closed.

The 334-unit complex is a project of Freed Developments, which had asked Toronto’s Core Architects Inc. to design a contemporary building that would celebrate King Street’s long history as a fashion district. (The area formerly was known as Toronto’s Garment District.)




Two floors to go for boutique Downtown Condos under construction at Wellington & Portland

Downtown Condo

February 6 2013: Construction progress on the Downtown condo midrise, viewed from the south at the intersection of Wellington Street West and Portland Street.


9  up, 2 to go: One year ago, excavation work was just in its early stages at the 508-516 Wellington Street West site of the boutique Downtown condo building. As of this week, concrete has been poured for 9 floors of the 11-storey midrise structure.

A project of Parallax Investment Corportion, the 89-unit condominium building was designed by Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Architects Inc. It’s the third new midrise condo building to be constructed on Wellington West, between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street, just in the past two years. (The other two, now occupied, are 400 Wellington and Five Hundred Wellington West.) But Downtown is the first building — both in Toronto, and possibly the entire world — to feature the innovative Flexnatür raised-floor building design that Sweeny Sterling developed.




Goldring Student Centre enhances streetscape on U of T’s Victoria University campus

Golding Student Centre

August 14 2011: Excavation was still in early stages when I shot this photo just two and a half months after the official groundbreaking for the Goldring Student Centre at Victoria University on the University of Toronto campus …


Goldring Student Centre

… today, 1.5 years later, construction crews have nearly finished applying stone cladding to the exterior of the 3-storey structure on Charles Street West


Goldring Student Centre

Architectural illustrations on a billboard at the construction site show how the new Goldring Student Centre and its landscaped quad will look when complete. The building was designed by Toronto’s Moriyama & Teshima Architects. 


Looking good: A new student social centre and meeting facility is shaping into a handsome addition to the Charles Street landscape on the Victoria University campus at U of T.

As installation of exterior stone cladding nears completion at the Goldring Student Centre, the 3-storey building already looks completely at home in its surroundings, fitting in well with the McKinsey and Company building next door and the Isabel Bader Theatre across the street — both of which also boast attractive stone finishes. I love the look of both those buildings, and think the new Goldring Student Centre nicely complements its neighbours and enhances the streetscape along Charles West.




RCMI Residences rising higher

RCMI Residences

January 10 2013: Looking up from the University Avenue median at construction progress on the RCMI Residences tower at 426 University Avenue


Approaching 30: Won’t be much longer before construction of the RCMI Residences condo tower starts to soar above Zurich — the Zurich Insurance Canadian headquarters at 400 University Avenue, that is.

When I passed by the RCMI Residences building site this afternoon, workers told me that tower construction is now up to the 29th floor, on its way to 44.  (I am certain they were mistaken about the final floor count; the project was approved on October 26 2009 by Toronto City Council on the basis of a September 18 2009 city planning report for a proposed 42-storey mixed-use building.)



Massive retail complex with condo tower in the works for SE corner of Yonge & Gould Streets

335 Yonge Street

This illustration, from an online CBRE flyer, shows a mixed-use condo, retail and commercial development project being planned for the southeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets


335 Yonge Street 335 Yonge Street December 25 2012 518 px  IMG_0705

December 25 2012: The redevelopment site includes the vacant corner lot at 335 Yonge St., where the Empress Hotel heritage building once stood, and the adjacent 3-storey HMV retail building at 333 Yonge. At rear is the hulking 10 Dundas East restaurant, retail and cinema complex, formerly known as Toronto Life Square, that occupies the remainder of the block bounded by Yonge, Gould, Victoria and Dundas Streets.


335 Yonge Street

December 21 2010: A view of the historic Empress Hotel building at 335 Yonge Street only two weeks before it was destroyed in a fire set by a serial arsonist


335 Yonge Street

January 7 2011: A demolition machine razes the fire-ravaged remains of 335 Yonge only four days after the heritage building was set ablaze


Arsonist sentenced, redevelopment proposed: Only days after an arsonist was sentenced to prison for torching a heritage building at the southeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, signs have been posted on the property to advertise potential leasing opportunities in a major retail and condo redevelopment project being considered for the prime downtown site.

On December 14, convicted “serial arsonist” Stewart Poirier, 53, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting a blaze that destroyed the historic Empress Hotel building at 335 Yonge Street. The 124-year-old building, which was a city-designated heritage property,  was consumed by a 6-alarm fire in the early morning hours of January 3 2011. The fire-charred ruins were demolished that same month and the property has sat vacant ever since, being used from time to time as a construction staging area for the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre being built on the opposite side of Gould Street. In the nearly two years since the fire, speculation has run rampant about what type of redevelopment the property’s owner, Lalani Group, might propose for the site. Potential plans for the property now seem to be coming into focus.




Bridgepoint hospital construction & old Don Jail renovation on track for April 2013 completion

Bridgepoint Health

 October 16 2012: A southwest view of Bridgepoint Health‘s new hospital, seen here from the Gerrard Street bridge above the Don Valley Parkway. As construction nears completion, Bridgepoint expects to begin moving patients into the new building next April …


Don Jail

… while the historic Don Jail, which has been undergoing an extensive cleaning and restoration, inside and out, is expected to open at the same time. The fully renovated building will house administrative offices for around 100 Bridgepoint executives.


Completion in sight: With construction of the new Bridgepoint hospital continuing on schedule, patients and staff of Bridgepoint Health should begin moving into the state-of-the-art and environmentally-conscious new facility in only a few months’ time — April of next year, to be exact. Hospital administrators and executives are expected to start moving into their own new digs around the same time — office space in the fully restored and repurposed historic Don Jail building right next door. And by the end of next year, once the old hospital building and Toronto Jail addition beside it have been demolished, and new public park spaces, landscaping and streets have been put in place, the 10-acre Bridgepoint campus will have completely revitalized the northwest corner of Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street.

The $1.27 billion project was in the news today, with an insightful Globe & Mail report by Angela Kryhul — “Historic Don Jail buffed up, refitted for a new purpose” describing the transformation of the 148-year-old Don Jail building into the administrative headquarters for the adjacent 10-storey, 472-bed hospital. I highly recommend giving Angela’s interesting article a read; she spoke to two architects involved in the Bridgepoint project, Paul Sapounzi of the Ontario firm +VG Architects and Gregory Colucci of Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects. The online Globe & Mail article is accompanied by a slideshow of 11 photographs of the Don Jail’s interior and exterior.