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North York City Centre - Willowdale : Development News

36 North York City Centre - Willowdale Articles | Page: | Show All

Reimaging Yonge Sheppard Centre was a tricky prospect

What to do with ugly 1970s complex that architecturally shows something like hostility to the corner it sits on, even though it’s an important corner?
 
That was the challenged faced by Quadrangle architects when the firm won the competition to reinvent and expand RioCan Yonge Sheppard Centre soon after the REIT, along with partner KingSett, bought the office and commercial property, which sits atop the subway station linking Line 1 and Line 4.
 
“It’s, first of all, a very dated mall, pretty faithful to its 1976 design, and it’s quite detached from the street. You can't walk directly into it. There’s a moat around it. You have go upstairs or downstairs to get into it. And the retail presence is internalized. It doesn’t have a good street face to it,” says Quadrangle principal Anna Madeira.
 
Construction started this spring on the retail portion of a plan that will over the next two years ultimate add a new 39-storey 400-unit residential tower to the complex, as well as a second daycare facility and a community room. Bringing these new uses to an updated complex, and making sure the building functions better as a TTC hub, were not the only challenges. Quadrangle also had to make sure the building remained operational during construction, as required by long-term tenants. Towers at the north and south of property were to remain untouched above the first couple of storeys, much to the chagrin of Madeira and other partners. “We would have loved to have had our hands on those towers, but the most important part of the project is the ground plane,” she says.
 
To better connect the building to the street, Quadrangle came up with a design that pushes the building’s outer wall out toward the sidewalks on Yonge and Sheppard. That makes for a better retail showcase, and means the entrances will be at-grade at sidewalk level, with the steps up and down inside the mall. As an added bonus, the TTC entrance, now reached through a covered outdoor space, will be accessible from all levels of the mall. “We wanted to make the flow and circulation feel like it was part of the mall. Rather than being an in-between space, it’s part of the public space,” says Madeira.
 
Even with construction already started, the project can still feel like a moving target as new construction quirks are revealed.
 
“The nature of working with such a complicated existing building is that you have to be always on your toes, and the design has to evolve and change,” says Madeira.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Anna Madeira

100 affordable housing units proposed for Tippett Road neighbourhood

As part of the plan to regenerate the Tippett Road neighbourhood, City Council will consider creating 100 new affordable homes in the area, at a total cost of $5.65 million.
 
If approved, the city would spend $2.75 million for 50 affordable rental homes, and share the $2.9-million cost of 50 affordable ownership homes at 36 Tippett Road with the federal and provincial governments and other partners. Working with Build Toronto and developer Shiplake Properties (developing the property as the Rocket Tippett Inc.), which bought the city-owned property from Build Toronto after it was declared surplus, the city would pay for the units with funds from the Development Charges Reserve Fund.
 
“In addition to the 100 affordable homes at 36 Tippett Road that are the subject of this report, the future developer of the southern portion of 36 Tippett Road will also deliver approximately 50 affordable ownership and 50 affordable rental homes, for a total of 200 new affordable homes on this surplus city site,” states the report that will be considered by executive committee this week and, if accepted, city council on March 30.
 
The combined funding will assist in providing the homes at more affordable prices to lower-income families and individuals. “Each home will have HOAP [Home Ownership Assistance Program] and IAH [Investment in Affordable Housing Program] loan funds secured by a ‘silent’ no-payment mortgage and the loan be paid back to the City with a share of any capital appreciation if the home is resold,” states the report. “Given the combined value of the assistance, it is proposed that the loans not have a forgiveness date after which the mortgage would no longer be payable if the purchaser remained in the home.”
 
Planning approvals are in place for building the homes; marketing and construction are expected to begin this year.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Central Toronto saw 93 new development projects last year

Development in Toronto and East York overshadowed growth in Etobicoke York, North York and Scarborough last year, but North York’s Committee of Adjustment was pretty darn busy.

In its 2015 annual report, Toronto City Planning department paints a picture in numbers of how much the city is growing and changing. In the district of Toronto and East York, encompassing the “old” city of Toronto including downtown, there were 93 new development projects, 1,408 applications to the committee of adjustment for smaller changes to properties and an impressive 1,833 applications for heritage permits. In North York, there were 63 new development projects, 1,216 applications to the committee of adjustment and 135 heritage permit applications. In the west, in Etobicoke York, there were 53 new development projects, 871 applications to the committee of adjustment and 114 heritage permit applications.

Things were more sluggish in Scarborough, which saw 45 new development projects, 485 applications to the committee of adjustment and 65 heritage permit applications.

But it’s not all about the numbers. The report highlights projects the city sees as game-changers. The Scarborough Civic Centre Library opened last year and construction began on the Guild Inn/Bickford House revitalization, which will bring a new banquet hall, restaurant and community centre to the heritage site about the Scarborough Bluffs. The Steeles–Redlea Regeneration Area Study has been established to create a planning framework for the parameters for future growth of one of the city’s newly designated Regeneration Areas.

On the waterfront, there’s the second phase of revitalization focusing on the port lands, the new Fort York bridge (which will begin construction soon) linking King Street West and Liberty Village to the Fort York neighbourhood, and the launch of Project: Under Gardiner, which will use a $25-million donation from the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation to create public spaces beneath the western Gardiner from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue.

Further north, there’s the Finch and Sheppard Light Rail Transit (LTR) Corridors, where the city is working on an updated planning framework to leverage infrastructure investment prior to the opening of the transit routes.

Just this week, Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx just invited three consortium teams to submit proposals to design, build, finance and maintain the Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Public art project at new Finch West subway station featured at IIDEXCanada conference

The public art component of the six new stations of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension aims to go beyond decorative subway tiles, integrating an artistic experience into the architecture itself.
 
At a seminar at IIDEXCanada National Design + Architecture Exposition & Conference this week, two of the project leads on the Finch West subway station design will discuss how bringing the artist on board early in the planning process radically changed the look and feel of the station.
 
“The extension stations will be destination-worthy,” Brad Golden, principal of Brad Golden + Co., told Yonge Street Media in advance of the presentation. Golden worked on the public art component of all six of the new stations on the $2.6-billion extension, expected to open at the end of 2017. “We really pushed the limits. It’s immersive and spatial, with technology involved. The TTC was phenomenal in allowing latitude of the art expression.” The transit commission invested about $3 million into the extension’s public art program.
 
Communications technology helped bridge the geographic distance between UK artist Bruce McLean—best known for his cheeky works across a variety of media, including sculpture, painting and film—and the project’s architects and engineers. “The artist was given direct input into the model, which was very efficient and helpful. So we knew right away how it would look. He designed the columns in the public space and the bus canopy,” said Ana-Francisca de la Mora C., project architect at IBI Group Architects.
 
Golden compared the process to jazz, where collaborators take cues from each other as they bounce ideas back and forth.
 
“In real, successful collaborations those boundaries between the disciplines really break down in a wonderful way, especially if you have the different design disciplines at the table early enough,” he said. “You can look at that station as a piece of art, as a piece of architecture and urban design. A true collaboration is a crossover.”
 
IIDEXCanada, which this year takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, attracts about 30,000 attendees with 1,600 exhibitors, 500 speakers and 350 seminars and tours.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Ana-Francisca de la Mora C., Brad Golden

New Downsview campus opens whole new world for Centennial College aerospace students

Centennial College’s new Downsview Park Aerospace Campus, slated to begin construction this fall, has big shoes to fill.
 
The campus will provide aerospace training for up to 900 students at a time in a 130,000-square-foot space that’s the former home of the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., a storied company founded in 1929 that built planes for the Second World War. The massive building also hosted the Canadian Air and Space Museum from 1997 to 2011 and was slated for demolition just four years ago.
 
Instead, it will be renovated into a teaching facility and innovation hub that will be Centennial’s fifth campus, a project expected to cost $55.4 million and create new partnerships between Centennial, other academic institutions like the University of Toronto, and the private sector.
 
The design is by MJMA, the architecture firm behind the Regent Park Aquatics Centre and Centennial’s own Ashtonbee Campus Library and Student Hub. While most of the building’s exterior will be preserved, maintaining the ample natural light, the interior will accommodate larger aircraft than the original builders could have imagined. The area where 7,000 employees used to work at the main assembly line will become the main foyer.
 
“The spirit is intact and will remain the same,” says Andrew Petrou, director of strategic initiatives and external relations at Centennial and executive director of the Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR). “The design pays homage to the history of what’s come out of that building.”
 
Adjacent to the Downsview Airport and close to Bombardier’s Downsview plant and Defence Research and Development Canada, students in the aviation program, currently based in Scarborough, will have unprecedented access to the aviation sector.
 
 “It’s a real game changer,” says Petrou. “Students can look at the latest technology in seconds.”
 
The college also has plans for outreach to the local community, and to build bridges between small and medium sized businesses and the academic community that will inhabit the campus. The result, Petrou hopes, will be a more vital aerospace ecosystem that will keep Canada at the top of its game.
 
“Canada’s currently fifth in the world, but other countries have their eye on our spot,” says Petrou.
 
The campus is slated to open by fall 2017.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Andrew Petrou

Tippett Road regeneration plan steams ahead

The city is moving ahead with plans to reinvigorate an underloved neighbourhood close to the Wilson subway station.
 
The Tippett Road area, which runs from Allan Road to Wilson Heights Boulevard north of Wilson Avenue and from the Allan to Champlain Boulevard south of Wilson, is one of seven designated regeneration areas in the city. The plans would convert the area, about 12.6 hectares, from primarily employment lands to mixed use, including residential.
 
“Maybe it makes sense to make this little pocket, right at a subway station, a mixed-use area rather than employment, because there aren’t employment uses there right now,” says senior planner Cathy Ferguson.
 
The effort was in part triggered by two development applications to build several high-rise residential developments on Tippett Road. Several new residential buildings have already gone up or are under construction in the area. Last week City Council voted to direct staff to begin discussions with landowners about the impact of new development in time to report back for the June 18 Growth Management Committee meeting. Planning staff are also meeting with Affordable Housing staff to develop a program to deliver as many as 200 affordable rental and ownership homes to the community as part of any regeneration.
 
If Tippett Road becomes more residential, it would call for a layout for new streets, parks and open spaces, a transportation strategy, planning to ensure an appropriate mix of uses and appropriate density. Height limits are also a concern because of the proximity to Downsview Airport.
 
Build Toronto, which owns the TTC commuter parking lots on the west side of Tippett, would also be a player in the regeneration.
 
After staff report back from their flurry of meetings, the city will hold a public hearing on the proposals. Ferguson says the regeneration may take 15 to 25 years to come to fruition.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Cathie Ferguson

Sherway Gardens joins other GTA malls in dash toward luxury

Five new retailers opening in Etobicoke’s Sherway Gardens shopping mall signal the early stages of the mall’s multi-phased, $550 million expansion.
 
“Preppy-bohemian luxe” US designer Tory Burch is first out of the gate. Cosmetics maker LUSH, shoe designer Vince Camuto, jewelry and watch retailer Thomas Sabo and Canadian fashion label Rudsak are also making their Etobicoke debuts over the next few weeks. Some of the stores will be located in the existing property while others will be in the most completed parts of the redevelopment.
 
“At Sherway Gardens we are writing the next chapter in retail and we are delighted to share our growing space with some of today's most influential brands,” stated Andy Traynor, the mall’s general manager. 
 
Sherway’s north expansion, set to open this September, will feature a new flagship Harry Rosen, a relocated Sporting Life and a new food court. Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom will open stores there 2016 and 2017. The reboot will add an additional 210,000 square feet of retail space to the centre, bringing the total size to 1.3 million square feet.
 
But it’s not just Sherway that’s getting ritzier. As serious shoppers know, four of the GTA’s best known malls are currently in some sort of flux.
 
Sister Cadillac Fairview property, Toronto Eaton Centre, is also getting a Saks Fifth Avenue this fall and a Nordstrom store in the fall of 2016. Saks will bunk with Hudson’s Bay in the historic Queen and Yonge building, which is currently being renovated to make room. Nordstrom will share the old Sears space at the north end of the mall (formerly Eaton’s, if you’re keeping track) with other smaller retailers.
 
Another Nordstrom location will open at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, owned by Oxford Properties and Alberta Investment Management Corporation, as part of that mall’s $331 million expansion, which started in January 2014 and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016. About 25 smaller stores are also part of the expansion.
 
Not to be outdone, Mississauga’s Square One, owned by Oxford Properties, is expanding to the south, with 113,000 square feet devoted to the first Simons in Ontario and another 120,000 square feet for a flagship Holt Renfrew. That expansion, expected to be complete in the spring of 2016, will cost $237 million.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited, Vanessa Jenkins

The city is looking to redraw its ward boundaries

Ward 18, otherwise known as Davenport, presided over by Councillor Ana Bailao, has 44,280 residents as of last year. Up at the top of the city, Willowdale, ward 23, under Councillor John Fillion, has 93,784 people living in it.

The city figures these ward swells may be a problem, and is looking into redrawing the lines that have defined their boundaries for the last 15 years.

Toronto has experienced an unprecedented growth spurt over the past decade or so, and the demographic map of the city has changed radically, with towers and other developments responsible for massive shifts of people from one part of the city to another and from outside the city into its most built-up sectors.

There are four wards with populations more than 25 per cent higher than the average of 61,000, and 11 with populations more than 25 per cent lower. And since both the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the courts have decided, according to the team in charge of the boundary review, that effective representation relies on similarity in population, the city’s hired the Canadian Urban Institute, Beate Bowron Etcetera Inc., the Davidson Group and Thomas Ostler to team up and look into how to fix the problem.

Their first of six public meetings this month is being held this evening.

According to Beate Bowron, the group is taking geographic issues, history as well as “communities of interest” — groups with overarching similarities — into account in their considerations and presentations. Bowron says there have been no restrictions placed on the redistricting meaning, among other things, that the current number of 44 could rise.

Tonight’s meeting is being held at S. Walter Stewart Library, 170 Memorial Park Ave., Thursday's at Parkdale Library, 1303 Queen St. W., both between 6pm and 9pm, and Saturday's at Trinity St. Paul's Church, 427 Bloor St. W. between 9am and noon.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Beate Bowron

North York to get new medical offices at new Finch West subway station

Real Wealth developers have announced there'll be a new medical arts building going up in North York.

The eight-storey, 165,000 square foot building will be 200 metres from the future Finch West subway station, and also near the new Humber River Regional Hospital at Keele and Wilson, which is scheduled to open on Oct. 18, 2015.

According to their spokesman, Stephen Murdoch, the project has been in the planning stages since 2011, and construction on the site of a former gas station and Tim Horton's at Finch and Keele is set to begin this fall.

"Findings showed that there was a lack of supply, namely in relation to all that is happening with the new hospital and all that are relocating to it from around Ontario and the Country," Murdoch says. "Current office and medical facilities are old, maintenance fees high, and inefficient, surrounded by an aging population."

Designed by ACK Architects, the building -- to be called University Heights – will offer its 89 office spaces both for rent and for sale.

The building will also qualify for tier 2 of Toronto's Green Standard, and will include 7,100 square feet of green roof.

Murdoch said the building is scheduled for occupancy in June, 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Stephen Murdoch

Work begins Monday on new Finch-area multi-use trail

Work on the latest of a planned series of new nature trails in the city is set to begin Monday in the Bayview and Finch area.

Known by the city as the Finch Corridor Trail Project, the multi-use trail, which will be suitable for pedestrians, bicycles, and various mobility devices, is being built on privately owned Ontario Hydro land, part of a Hydro corridor. It will run roughly from Kenneth Avenue in the west to the Don River at Pineway Avenue, just north of and roughly parallel to Finch Avenue. It will be about 3 km long and about 3.5 metres wide.

Construction will run until the end of November this year, and recommence in the spring, with a projected completion date of July 31, 2014. There will be new road crossings constructed at Willowdale Avenue, Maxome Avenue, Ruddington Drive, and Luton Gate.

The city intends to limit construction hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays, as stipulated by city bylaws.

Ultimately, the city hopes to have a network of up to 30 km of such trails in the Finch area.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Richard Chang Kit

Developer and builder named for 20-year Lawrence Heights overhaul

One of the most significant development projects in the city was announced on Monday when it was revealed that developer Context and builder Metropia will be working with Toronto Community Housing to overhaul Lawrence Heights.

The 100-acre neighbourhood, completed in 1962, is a suburban version of Regent Park tucked just south of Yorkdale Mall, and all three partners have expressed the intention of making the revitalization at least as successful as the much-lauded downtown Regent Park project.

"At this point in my career, it’s very important to do something that has social significance," says 30-year veteran and Metropia president Howard Sokolowski.

The entire project is expected to take 20 years, encompassing more than 1,000 low-cost units and more than 4,000 market-price units. Context and Metropia have been given the contract for the first phase, 25 acres on which they will build 225 rental homes and 950 condos and townhouses. Construction will begin next spring.

Sokolowski emphasizes the importance of community consultation as the project moves forward, sensitive perhaps to the initial opposition from residents.

"We’re not about to do anything until people know exactly what’s happening and have input into acceptable architecture, acceptable street furniture," he says. "That’s number one."

The plan has been a long time coming. It was first announced in 2007 by then city councilor Howard Moscoe.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Howard Sokolowski

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Expanded park opens near Yonge & Finch

Edithvale Park has been growing in a hodgepodge fashion for years, but after a year's work, a new, unifying design for the North Toronto park was unveiled this month.

"The perimeter of the block on Finch Avenue West and Lorraine Drive used to be lined by residential lots," says senior project co-ordinator Doug Giles. "Over recent years, the city has slowly either acquired these lots, or developers have conveyed these lots to the city as their parkland dedication, thus increasing the area of parkland beyond the parkland in the centre of the block. As conveyed, the residential lots came to the city with only basic sod (and domestic shrubs and planting remnants), and the current project integrated these lots into the overall design of the park."

Designed by landscape architects Schollen and Company, the park now has two new playground structures, a community bake oven, a paved plaza, an herb garden, lit pathways, a pergola and new trees and shrubs.

The total construction cost of the project, which began in June 2011, was $1.4 million.

The park is built on the site of part of the former Wilket Creek, which was culvertized here several decades ago.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Doug Giles, Senior Project Co-ordinator, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Olive Square Park opens at Finch station with community design suggestions intact

There's a small lawn in the middle of Olive Square Park, the city's newest public park because residents of the Yonge and Finch area wanted at least some green in the otherwise highly developed area.

"There was a series of two working groups meetings where we presented a couple of options," says David Nosella, a capital projects supervisor with the city. "The selected the concept on which the final design was based."

Nosella says there were between 20 and 25 residents in each group, who worked with designs provided by Michael Prusetti of MEP Design. "The planting is all irrigated," Nosella says. "There's a central, raised law area, which the community was adamant they wanted. They wanted at least some open lawn space."

The 1,600-square-metre park is otherwise designed as an urban square, fronting onto Yonge Street, with limestone from Owen Sound along the frontage, a bioswale to filter rainwater before it makes it into the sewer system, and LED lighting throughout.

There are also lots of benches.

"It's somewhere on Yonge Street to come and eat your lunch or sit and read your book," Nosella says.

Work began on the park in November, and was substantially completed in early May on a budget of $950,000. The park officially opened this week.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Nosella

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


CMHC recognizes Sustainable.TO & Greenbilt for healthy North York house

A house in North York has earned its builder and architect special recognition for being the embodiment of the five essentials of healthy housing.

The principles, set out by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), relate to occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility and affordability.

"The architect takes full advantage of the passive house standard, building envelope and passive solar gain to create a house that could virtually operate without an active heating system," says Jamie Shipley, a senior research consultant with the CMHC in Toronto. "Then, on top of that is the occupants' detail that was required to make sure the house has healthy air: Everything that goes into that house is low VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds], no off-gassing."

The CMHC recognizes one builder a year who has built either a single family home or a multi-residential building to these standards. It's unusual for an architect to also be recognized, but the CMHC in this instance is acknowledging what it feels were substantial contributions from Sustainable.TO in its work with Greenbilt Homes.

The house, a single family dwelling known as the Willowdale Passive Solar House, is at 84 Norton Avenue, just south of Yonge and Finch.

Though the CMHC is a national organization, the healthy Housing Recognition program is only operated in Ontario.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jamie Shipley

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Major Osgoode Hall renovation officially opens

Last week marked the official re-opening of Osgoode Hall Law School after an extensive redesign by Diamond Schmitt Architects.

"Some cities are built at the right time, some cities are not built at the right time. Dublin was very lucky to be built at the height of Georgian elegance," says architect Jack Diamond. "Unfortunately, Osgoode Hall was not built at the height of architectural elegance."

In tackling the project on the York University campus, Diamond says, "there were several things we had as our objectives. Another flaw in the original building—it wasn't easy to find one's way around, because of the "blind" nature of the building, not only externally but internally; students never knew whether the faculty was in or out. The common room looked like a nasty sports locker room with no windows whatsoever."

The new design is a 215,000-square-foot reorganization of the 44-year-old school around an atrium, with a new 23,000-square-foot single-storey addition.

"The aim of the design was obviously to clarify the plan, to make it accessible and understandable," says Diamond, "to introduce great amounts of natural light and to improve the quality of space so that people would spend more time on campus. That whole lack of a sense of community is exacerbated now by computer, where people can work at home, have access to legal documents, without having to go to the library."

York raised $32 million for the project, which was bumped up by another $25 million through the federal and provincial governments' Knowledge Infrastructure Program.

"The net effect has been quite stunning," Diamond says of the new facility, named the Ignat Kaneff building after the lead donor, a Toronto area developer of Bulgarian extraction. "One of the problem is it's suffering from its success. It's so popular with non-law students that you have to show your law student card to get in."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jack Diamond

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

36 North York City Centre - Willowdale Articles | Page: | Show All
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