Category Archives: Backstage condos

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.




Excavation continues, but bottom parking level begins to take shape at Backstage Condos

Backstage Condos

March 10 2013: A view of construction progress at the west end of the Backstage Condos site at the southeast corner of Yonge Street and The Esplanade. The deep excavation will gradually fill in with 6 underground parking levels.



Backstage Condos

March 10 2013: The construction crane rises near the center of the pit



Backstage Condos

March 10 2013: Looking toward the east end of the construction site, from Yonge Street. A 1-storey-tall mound of excavation material near the crane still has to be removed from the oddly-shaped pit, which extends between the condo highrise at 25 The Esplanade (left) and the railway tracks that lead into Union Station (behind the giant retaining wall to the right).




Digging and pouring: Although dozens of truckloads of dirt remain to be excavated from the Backstage Condos site at Yonge Street and The Esplanade, construction of the 36-storey building’s bottom level of underground parking — P6 — is already well underway.

Crews have been busy pouring concrete for walls and footings at the west end of the site, while just a few dozen meters to the east a “long reach” excavator keeps digging away, gradually removing a big mound of excavated material from the middle area of the six-level-deep pit.

Interestingly, the 373 vehicle parking spaces aren’t being provided for Backstage Condo residents — they’re actually intended for use by residents at The L Tower, which is approaching the end of construction on the other side of the street. L Tower residents will reach the parking garage through a tunnel that has already been bored several meters beneath The Esplanade. Backstage will have 150 parking spots in its own 4-level garage, which will be built above ground in the tower’s 4-storey podium. (Backstage and The L Tower aren’t just neighbours on The Esplanade, they’re sisters — adjacent condo projects sharing the same parents, developers Cityzen Developments, Castlepoint Realty, and Fernbrook Homes.)




Pit Stops: Photo roundup of below-ground and at-grade construction activity at 21 downtown condo, office & university building sites

Picasso on Richmond condos

As 2012 drew to a close, some noteworthy downtown building projects had reached different stages of at- and below-grade construction progress. At some sites, like this one for the Picasso on Richmond condo tower, preliminary foundation drilling work was in full swing …


Studio on Richmond condos

… while at others, like this one for the Studio on Richmond and Studio2 condo towers just two blocks east of Picasso, site excavation was ongoing.


The Yorkville condos

Over the same period of time, underground parking levels were taking shape at some building sites, like this one for The Yorkville condo project on Davenport Road …


X2 Condos

… while over on Charles Street East, construction had reached a milestone mark at X2 Condos, where building had started on the ground level of the tower


Fall photos: Until condo and office tower construction starts to climb above street level, it can be difficult to track how quickly work is progressing on the dozens of new buildings going up in Toronto’s downtown core. Ground-level views of building sites are often obscured by hoarding and security fences, plus concrete delivery trucks, dump trucks and other construction vehicles maneuvering into and out of staging areas adjacent to construction zones. I find it’s a big challenge to monitor ongoing progress at places where underground levels are taking shape, let alone keep an eye on sites where shovels are just breaking ground or preliminary work is being undertaken to prepare for full-scale construction. The vast number of projects scattered throughout the downtown core certainly doesn’t make the task any easier.



Condo slump coming? Some experts think so, but developers are set to launch 35 projects by June

Rendering of the proposed Backstage on the Esplanade condo tower; real estate brokers packed a sales office this week for a sneak peek at the project

Condo boom losing steam? The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says housing starts in Canada dropped 13% in December, dragged down by a 45% drop in condo construction in Ontario. According to CMHC, multiple-unit starts (mainly condos) averaged 91,000 in 2010, but dipped to 85,000 in December. Some experts predict the numbers will fall even lower — to 75,000, which is the average historical level. Does this mean Toronto’s red-hot condo boom is on the verge of  a slump?  Not necessarily.

According to a story in The Globe and Mail today, “Toronto builders expect to launch 35 new projects in the first two quarters of the year, with as many as 17,000 new units expected to hit the market in 2011.” Last year, the second-best ever, saw 19,000 new units sold. And real estate agents are optimistic the high demand for condos will continue.

Earlier this week, the Globe pointed out, realtors packed the Backstage on the Esplanade sales office for a sneak peek at the project. Backstage is a 36-storey tower proposed for a narrow wedge of land nestled between the railway tracks to the south, Yonge Street to the west, and The Esplanade to the north. It will sit behind the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the Daniel Libeskin-designed L Tower, which is currently under construction at the northeast corner of Yonge and The Esplanade.

The site looks impossibly tiny for a condo tower when viewed both from street level and above, but developers have been plans to make it work.

Below are some photos of the Backstage location, its sales office, and its original development proposal signage on The Esplanade.


Backstage condo tower location viewed from CN Tower

Another CN Towerview of the site proposed for the Backstage tower

Backstage Condos

November 9 2010 view of Backstage Condos site on The Esplanade

Proposed Backstage condo tower site viewed from The Esplanade

Marketing banner on Yonge Street railway underpass adjacent to Backstage site

Backstage sales office one block east of the tower site

The project’s original development proposal sign on The Esplanade