Tag Archives: Diamondcorp

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.




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).




Ground floor construction underway at 210 Simcoe condo highrise near Queen West & University Ave

210 Simcoe Street condo

April 4 2013: Construction crews assemble forms into which concrete will be poured to build ground-floor walls and support structures for the No 210 Residences on Simcoe condo highrise


210 Simcoe condo

This artistic illustration depicts a view of the 210 Simcoe condo building from street level at the corner of Simcoe Street and Michael Sweet Avenue. The rendering appears on the website for Toronto developer Diamondcorp, which has partnered with Sorbara Development Group on the project.


210 Simcoe Street

This was how the condo site looked in July 2011, viewed from the same perspective as the rendering above.



Ready to rise: Construction of a new condo tower in the AGO-Grange District near Queen Street West & University Avenue will soon climb as high as the ugly low-rise parking garage that formerly occupied the narrow, block-long property.

Work on the No 210 Residences on Simcoe has reached street level, and yesterday construction crews were assembling building forms for the building’s ground floor walls and supports.

A joint project of Diamondcorp and Sorbara Development Group, No 210 Simcoe Residences will rise 25 storeys when finished, and contain 290 condo units. The building was designed by Sol Wassermuhl of Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects.





Wellesley/Sherbourne condo tower proposal gets rough ride at city meeting with area residents

159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

This artistic rendering depicts the 38-storey condo tower that Toronto developer Diamondcorp has planned for 159 Wellesley Street East, at the southwest corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley Streets. The image appears on a development proposal sign posted on the property.


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto tower renderings

These illustrations of the tower proposed for 159 Wellesley Street East appeared on the Diamondcorp website


Strong opposition: A proposal for a 38-storey condo tower at the intersection of Wellesley and Sherbourne Streets has drawn fire from area residents who think the project is too tall, sorely lacks green space, family-sized units and adequate parking facilities, and will seriously worsen congestion in what is already one of the world’s most densely-populated downtown neighbourhoods.

“This is a monster building. Can we chop it off, please, at the root?” asked a woman who lives in a co-op apartment building directly across the street from the project site. She was one of more than 20 neighbourhood residents who spoke during a community consultation meeting that city planners and Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam held last night to get feedback on the Diamondcorp development plan.

The “monster” comment struck a chord with many of the 40 people who attended the meeting: only one person spoke in support of the condo plan, while everyone else who addressed the meeting voiced complaints and criticisms about specific elements of the project as well as its perceived negative impact on the community.


City notice didn’t reach residents

Held in a cramped meeting room in a Catholic church one block north of the project site, the city feedback session probably would have attracted a bigger crowd had more neighbourhood residents received official city notice of the event. However, much to the disappointment and dismay of Councillor Wong-Tam and city planner Giulio Cescato, the city’s bulk mailing was not delivered to many addresses in the immediate area, including the 39-storey Verve condominium and the 34-storey 500 Sherbourne condo tower across the street. Visibly angry residents gave the city planner and Councillor an earful about the lack of notice, and were told another meeting might be scheduled to get input from people who failed to receive the mailing. [A similar delivery problem occurred with city notices mailed out to advise of a community consultation held last week for a tower development at 2-8 Gloucester Street; many residents on nearby streets did not receive word about that meeting.]


326 units with street-level retail space

Diamondcorp has proposed a 38-storey tower with 326 condos, of which 216 would be 1-bedroom and the rest 2-bedroom units. There would be no 3-bedroom suites. The building would have a 4-storey podium with 2,300 square feet of street-level retail space and three residential floors, topped by a 34-storey point tower. A gym, party room, lounge and outdoor amenity space would be situated atop the podium on the fifth floor.  The entrance to the condo would be from Sherbourne Street, as would vehicular access to the building’s garbage and loading zones. Access to the underground parking garage, which would hold 126 private parking spots and four visitor spaces, would be from Wellesley Street East. The building would have 195 bicycle parking spaces.

Designed by Quadrangle Architects Limited of Toronto, the 116-meter highrise would feature gentle curves, a masonry-clad podium, and distinctive coloured glass panels on its corner windows. The tower would be set back 3 meters from Sherbourne Street, 4 metres from Wellesley Street, 5 meters from the laneway to its west, and 3.5 metres from the 3-storey retail and apartment building to its south.


Site poses environmental legacy issues

Diamondcorp acquired the 159 Wellesley East site in December 2010, and is developing its condo project in affiliation with Kilmer Brownfield Equity Fund L.P.

Kilmer managing partner David Harper told the community meeting that, until 1930, a residential building sat on the corner site. From the early 1930s until late last year, vehicle fuel service stations carried on business there; in fact, the Shell corporation owned the property from 1935 to 2010. Most recently, a Beaver gas station and a Baker’s Dozen donut shop occupied the site.

Since gas stations operated at 159 Wellesley East for 80 years, there are significant environmental “legacy issues” requiring remediation before the site can be redeveloped, Mr. Harper said. The underground gasoline tanks and “gas product infrastructure” have already been removed, and soil and ground water testing has been undertaken in consultation with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This remediation activity is “highly regulated” by the province, Mr. Harper said.


‘Exciting’ infill development project

Les Klein, a principal of Quadrangle Architects, described the project’s architectural elements. He said he was “very excited” by 159 Wellesley East, which he called a “classic City of Toronto infill development project” featuring “high quality urban design.”

“We have taken the incredible challenges of the unique shape of the site,”  he said, and designed a tower that is “very different from the typical glass boxes” seen throughout the City. Quadrangle’s tower design features “gentler curves” instead of “sharp edges,” and wherever the building curves, “we’ve introduced a series of coloured panels,” Mr. Klein said. He added that the four-storey podium is “in keeping” with the height of the elementary school just south of the site, as well as the Wellesley Central Place/Rekai Centre for long-term care on the north side of Wellesley Street.


Parking, transportation and congestion concerns

But neighbourhood residents weren’t enthusiastic about the design, and in fact were upset merely by the prospect of a condo tower of any height rising on the site.

The first speaker, a senior citizen named Olive who lives two blocks away on Maitland Place, received a hearty round of applause and numerous complimentary comments after spending five full minutes criticizing multiple aspects of the proposal. “Esthetically, it doesn’t fit in with nearby buildings,” while the tower is “out of proportion” for the corner, she said. She slammed the design for failing to provide landscaping and greenery at street level, and for failing to take into account serious “parking and transportation issues” in what is “already a busy area.” She said she thought 126 parking spaces for owners was insufficient, while a mere four spaces for visitors was woefully inadequate. Jim, another Maitland Place condo resident, agreed that four visitor spaces “seems sparse.”

Karen, an owner in a 34-unit condo complex on nearby Jarvis Street, said the tower “is far too tall. I think it should be half that size.” She agreed with Olive that the condo poses problems for transportation, particularly since vehicles making left-hand turns into the underground parking garage will cause lengthy backups along Wellesley Street, which is often clogged with traffic.  “I think we need to reduce congestion in this area,” she said.

Gord, a resident in the 500 Sherbourne condo tower, criticized the proposal for failing to meet many of the highrise building design criteria outlined in the city’s Tall Buildings Downtown Project (which I reported on at length in my May 20 2011 post). “We need thoughtful, careful planning, not a tower that brings more congestion,” he added.

Herb, a resident at the Verve condo tower, said he and many of his neighbours “have great objections to this buildings. It’s way over-developed.” He said Verve’s developer had to make concessions to get that complex built, including setting back the tower, building a low-rise wing with townhouses, and adding landscaping and greenery. Here, however, “the developer makes no concession to the community as far as I can see,” he said, pointing out that 159 Wellesley East would have no greenery, and would create “parking access problems.”


Tower height, lack of landscaping criticized

Many in the audience objected to the fact the condo building will extend right to the edge of the property line, against the Wellesley and Sherbourne Street sidewalks, offering absolutely no landscaping or greenery of any kind at street level. Only the fifth-floor amenity space would have landscaping.

A woman who lives on nearby Ontario Street said the tower design is “not attractive,” and complained that there will be no trees on the property — just “a very selfish 5th floor garden.”

Another woman who lives nearby complained that the proposed coloured window panels “are my least favourite colours,” and added: “I think the height is terrible on that corner. We need green space terribly. Why not put [the building] on pillars like OCAD and have a public park underneath?” she suggested.

A woman named Ava called the project “a monster building” and agreed that green space is desperately needed on the property. “We need a community that allows us to grow in that space. We don’t need retail. We need imagination. You are not bringing imagination — you are bringing a monster to us.”

Mark, a resident in the nearly 100-year-old Ernescliffe co-op apartment buildings across the street on Sherbourne, said Ernescliffe residents have “serious concerns about the nature and scope of the project,” particularly the fact the tower will cast shadows over the co-op’s outdoor common elements. He, too, decried the lack of green space in the project,” and complained that “the developer hasn’t mentioned bringing anything of substantial value to the community,” such as a swimming pool badly needed at the nearby Wellesley Community Centre.

Other speakers echoed those sentiments, pointing out that the neighbourhood lacks green space and public amenities, while those that do exist — including the relatively new community centre and the St James Town branch of the Toronto public library — are already being used to full capacity.


Increased neighbourhood noise?

Several commentators, including Bill from the 17-storey rental apartment building at 155 Wellesley East, worried that the condo’s rooftop mechanical equipment will increase noise nuisance in the neighbourhood and “add to the hum of the city.” A woman from 200 Wellesley East agreed that “the noise level is going to go up tremendously.”

Only one person, Ken from 40 Homewood Avenue, voiced support for the project. “That corner needs something,” he said, pointing out that the gas station and donut shop that previously occupied the property had been a haven for drug and prostitution activity “night and day” for years.

However, the woman from 200 Wellesley replied that the tower “is probably the very worst thing that we could have in that area. That highrise will be filled with drugs, pimps and prostitutes.”  A man concurred, saying that condos with many small units like the proposed tower “creates a transient population” and “brings in an element that won’t be part of the community.” [The city planner, Mr. Cescato, interjected to say that statistics actually show that “80% of Toronto’s condos are owner occupied.”]


Children’s health at risk?

Several women, including Ava, expressed fears that removal of the contaminated soil from the site will expose residents living nearby to serious health risks when toxins are exposed and released into the air.  They also said they worry that hundreds of high school and elementary schoolchildren who pass the site each day could develop disease and health problems from inhaling the toxic fumes. Glaring at Diamondcorp executive Bob Blazevski, one of the women said: “I hope you can sleep at night.”

Various speakers chided the city for allowing rampant development without taking into account how adding hundreds more residents to a neighbourhood in each new condo tower overstrains limited public amenities and infrastructure, and exacerbates downtown congestion.

“We’re sick and tired of developers driving the zoning,” Connie said, while a man who did not give his name said “It’s an interesting building, but it’s in the wrong place. We need to look at the community, not one building at a time.” And Mark from the Ernescliffe Co-Op said residents are “fed up” with the “ongoing construction” that has disrupted the neighbourhood for the past five years. With the city expected to overhaul Sherbourne Street in 2012 (to accommodate permanent bike lanes), along with the soil remediation and construction likely to take place at 159 Wellesley within the next several years, there is no relief in sight for frustrated area residents, he said.

Below are some photos I’ve taken at the 159 Wellesley East site in recent months. More photos can be viewed in my June 8 2011 post and in my April 19 2011 post about the condo tower proposal. Full details of the Diamondcorp project can be found in a May 16 2011 city planning department preliminary report submitted to Toronto and East York Community Council.


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

The condo tower development proposal sign at 159 Wellesley Street East, seen during this past summer after the gas station and donut shop that formerly occupied the site had been demolished


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

August 20 2011: The north half of the oddly-shaped 159 Wellesley Street East development site, looking east toward apartment towers in St James Town and the Ernescliffe co-op building at 477 Sherbourne Street


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

August 20 2011: Looking east across the southern half of the development site. A three-storey building with upper-level apartments and ground-level retail and restaurants on Sherbourne Street sits to the south of the fence


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

August 22 2011: Wooden hoarding was installed in place of the chain link fence that had surrounded the site while the gas station facilities and donut shop that previously occupied the property were being demolished


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

 September 26 2011: The development proposal sign on hoarding along the Wellesley Street perimeter of the development site


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

September 26 2011: Children from the Art City St James Town program created a mural that appears on hoarding around the 159 Wellesley East site


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

 September 26 2011: 30 children between the ages of 6 and 13 worked on the Art City mural project, which was profiled in an article in the Toronto Star and the Star‘s yourhome.ca website


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

September 26 2011: Sherbourne Street view looking west toward the proposed condo tower site. The apartment building at left is 155 Wellesley St. E., while the condo tower at right rear is the 39-storey Verve at Wellesley & Homewood Ave.


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

September 26 2011: Sherbourne Street view of the proposed condo tower site along with its neighbours to the north, the Verve condo tower (left) and the long-term care facility Wellesley Central Place/Rekai Centre


159 Wellesley Street East Toronto

September 26 2011: The Wellesley Central Place/Rekai Centre is a long-term care facility at the northwest corner of Wellesley & Sherbourne Streets


159 Wellesley East Toronto

This architectural illustration depicts the west elevation of the proposed condo tower. It appears in a May 16 2011 city planning department preliminary report to Toronto and East York Community Council


159 Wellesley East Toronto


 This site plan, also from the May 16 2011 preliminary city planning report, shows how the proposed tower would fill the corner site



Going …

FIVE Condos site on St Joseph Street

May 31 2011: Demolition is underway at the FIVE Condos site on St Joseph Street…


FIVE Condos site on St Joseph Street

… where this unsightly rear addition to a late 1880s-era Yonge Street heritage building is being destroyed…


Hariri Pontarini architectural rendering of FIVE Condos tower

… as part of the extensive FIVE Condos block redevelopment and condo tower building project at Yonge & St Joseph Streets, depicted in this illustration provided courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects in Toronto


Falling for FIVE: Wrecking crews have been busy on St Joseph Street, where this week they began knocking down parts of buildings that presently occupy a site where the 45-storey FIVE condo tower will ultimately rise. The structures being demolished sit to the rear of several 1880s-era historical buildings at the southwest corner of Yonge and St Joseph Streets, which will be preserved and restored as part of the FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph redevelopment project.

First to go was a tacky two-storey rear addition to the charming building right at the corner of Yonge & St Joseph; a sports bar once occupied the upper level, while the ground floor was part of a Timothy’s coffee shop during the late 1990s and early 2000s and, most recently, a shawarma shop. Just to the immediate south, a boxy three-storey brick structure is also being pulled down. The good news is that six old brick buildings with storefronts along Yonge Street will be restored and incorporated into the FIVE Condos development, as will be the case with the facade of the former Rawlinson Cartage warehouse building on the corner of St Joseph and St Nicholas Streets. A senior city planner, Michael Hynes, has publicly described the FIVE Condos development as “the largest heritage building protection project in the country.”

FIVE is a team project by MOD Developments Inc., Graywood Developments Ltd., Tricon and Diamondcorp, along with Hariri Pontarini Architects, Cecconi Simone Inc. interior design, and Janet Rosenberg & Associates landscape architects. FIVE was a bigger winner at the 2011 BILD Awards, presented in late April by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). It won four major awards, including High-Rise Project of the Year, Best High-Rise Building Design, Best High-Rise Sales Office, and Best Model Suite.

Below are several photos showing demolition activity at the FIVE Condos project site this week. Additional information, photos and architectural renderings of the project are provided in my April  28 2011 post, while there are a few more pics of demolition equipment at the site in my May 12 2011 post.


FIVE Condos site at Yonge & St Joseph Streets

May 31 2011: Hoarding extends along Yonge Street outside the old buildings that will be incorporated into the FIVE Condos development


Construction and demolition equipment on St Joseph Street

May 31 2011: Construction and demolition equipment outside the former Rawlinson Cartage warehouse building on St Joseph Street


Demolition activity at the FIVE Condos site

May 31 2011: Demolition activity at the FIVE Condos site on St Joseph Street


Demolition activity on St Joseph Street

May 31 2011: The structures being demolished sit at the rear of the historic buildings being preserved on the Yonge Street flank of the FIVE Condos site


Demolition activity on St Joseph Street

May 31 2011: This former warehouse is quickly being reduced to rubble