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Kortright Centre building experimental subdivision

Imagine a subdivision of homes of the future—energy efficient, sustainable, accessible—where nobody lives, but is visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
 
That’s what the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is building at its Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan. Construction will start in the next couple of weeks on the new BRE Innovation Park at the Living City Campus at Kortright. Although there are BRE (Building Research Establishment) parks in other countries, this will be Canada’s first, providing a stage for builders and suppliers to test new materials, products and building techniques and share the results with industry, government and academic researchers.
 
The site is already home to the Archetype Sustainable House, which showcases sustainable technologies, materials and practices. But over the next few years, that anchor project will be joined by seven new buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, forming a small inhabitant-less community. Installing the infrastructure will cost about $2 million—the City of Vaughan requires the project to be linked into the municipal sewer system—but much of the labour and material will be donated by partners eager to demonstrate how their innovative products and techniques can create more sustainable communities.
 
“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” says Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA. Some of the buildings, like the visitor’s centre that is being built by Ellis Don, will be owned by the authority, while others will be owned by the developer for up to five years.
 
 Although no one will live at the subdivision, the buildings will be tested for their liveability by the many visitors and by staff. “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,” says MacMillan. “We can control lightbulbs, heat, toilet flush, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Glenn MacMillan

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

How can the suburbs woo younger residents?

Can developers spark a love affair between Generation Y and the suburbs?

Certainly, the stereotype is that Generation Y dreams about social networking, not cars, craving connectedness that sprawling commuter communities have difficulty delivering. But high home prices in metropolises like Toronto, combined with better planning and transportation in smaller cities, may encourage Gen Y to re-evaluate the merits of living in 905.

A September 28 panel hosted by the Urban Land Institute Toronto examined how planners and developers in 905 can do a better job of building and shaping residential, commercial and recreational spaces that will attract those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.

“They’re not necessarily going through anything different than previous generations, but their response to it may be different because the economic circumstances they're in,” said moderator Lou Iafrate in an interview with Yonge Street before the event. He’s executive vice president of research, valuation and advisory for Altus Group, which provides solutions for the commercial real estate industry. “The affordability issue wasn’t the same when Baby Boomers went through this part of their lives.”

Much of what panelists considered important to Generation Y may sound good to homeowners and renters of any generation: urban villages where people can live within walking distance—or easy transit distance—of where they work and play. While some complain that 905 cities aren’t especially pedestrian friendly, not all of it can be blamed on poor planning and design. Many of the cities are young and not particularly built up. Increasing density can fill in some of the gaps.

“Certainly 905 has a lot of work to do in streetscaping,” said panelist Lisa Lafave in a pre-panel interview. As senior portfolio manager at HOOPP (Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan), she helps manage a portfolio of more than $10 billion annually, including investments in real estate development. “It takes time to densify an area. It’s not going to happen overnight. In Mississauga, there are some areas where there are no sidewalks or bus shelters.”

Lafave says she won’t invest in a project that’s not transit-oriented. “I’ll move with the transit, but I won’t speculate on something that’s not transit-linked. By that definition, cities are denying themselves more investment in the city if they don’t invest in the infrastructure first,” she said.

The cities along the top of the GTA can also be smarter about connecting to each other, so work and recreational patterns aren’t all under the influence of Toronto. “If you can link Vaughan, Brampton, Markham, Richmond Hill, then people living in the 905 don’t necessarily have to come into the 416 for entertainment. The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre or the Markham City Centre are good examples of where they’re trying to create that urban village feel, that urbanized centre, in a traditionally suburban market. But it’s going to take time,” said Iafrate.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Lou Iafrate and Lisa Lafave

 

Chief Planner talks suburban mobility

At Monday’s meeting of the Chief Planner’s Roundtable, consultant Jane Farrow announced to the 200 attendees that 60 per cent of the people living in eight so-called tower neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs do not have drivers' licenses.
This is big news.

These suburbs, built at a time when cars seemed the natural tools for urban expansion, are no longer inhabited by car people. They are, in fact, decreasingly suburbs at all, but rather less dense cities of their own, and as Vaughan and Markham, among others, seek to redress the change in various ways, the Chief Planner’s Roundtable is looking into how people do, can and should move around.

"A tremendous number of them walk," Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat says, "even when walking conditions aren’t that good."

So one of the ways Keesmaat would like to address that is by studying how and where people are getting around now, and adapting the now outmoded infrastructure to accommodate them.

Some aspects of this could be relatively easy, like making sure paths are shoveled, taking down fences that obstruct natural routes, and keeping them well lit after dark. But there are more profound ways to address the issue as well.

"It's about how we can re-adapt very suburban, car-oriented environments," Keesmaat says, "by getting a much finer street network, and adding development parcels, recognizing the importance of land-use planning and infrastructure changes in order to increase the options."

In other words, as these suburbs expand, they expand with these more reasonable, responsive forms of transportation and mobility in mind.

By the end of the roundtable, which was open to the public but attended mostly by those in related professions, they came up with a list of seven things that, Keesmaat says, need to happen now, including improving the walking infrastructure where people walk already, ensuring walking and cycling infrastructure links up with transit, improving data collection so future decisions can be made on solid ground, improving signage, loosening land-use controls to allow for more organic change as it is warranted, develop to allow people to live closer to where they work, and encourage individual "champions" to get behind significant infrastructure investments in these suburbans and push them through.

Video records of this and previous roundtables are available on the chief planner’s website.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Keesmaat

Vaughan gets a new hotel

Vaughan’s got a new hotel.

The aspirationally urban suburb, which is getting its own subway stop soon and is constructing a new downtown core to welcome it, is now home to Canada’s first Element hotel, a contemporary take on an extended-stay hotel that up to now has been built in business centres such as Miami, Las Vegas, and Houston. Part of the Starwood group of hotels, Element features big windows, bikes to borrow and electric car charging stations.

The seven-storey, 152-suite hotel, built by the Zen Group of Companies that owns the business park on which it sits, has applied for LEED silver status.

Construction began in April, 2012 at the intersection of Highways 7 and 27 in southwest Vaughan. According to its general manager, John Caneco, it’s 10 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes to Vaughan’s new downtown.

According to Vaughan’s municipal website, the city has more than doubled in size over the past 20 years, growing in population from 111,359 in 1991 to 288,301 in 2011, and the city’s expecting that there will be 780,000 Vaughan-based jobs by 2031.

The hotel was designed by Burlington-based Chamberlain Architects, Constructors, Managers.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John Caneco

New chairlift at Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre cuts wait times

Good news for urban winter sports enthusiasts: a new chairlift at Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre drastically reduces lift wait times.  

"Four people can go up on every chair. They used to wait about 20 minutes at the bottom, and now the most they'll wait is 10," says Jeff Carmichael, recreation supervisor at the centre, which is located at Bathurst and Sheppard.

"We are really focused on customer service," Carmichael says. "If someone went down the hill in a minute or two and had to wait 20 minutes to get back up the hill, it wasn't an entirely positive experience."

The old, two-seat lift had been bought used in 1992 from Horseshoe Valley and had itself replaced a T-bar. According to Carmichael, the new lift has been in the capital planning process since 2004-05.

The seats, longtime city skiiers will be happy to hear, are now padded as well. Day passes are $30.

The $2.3-million park enhancement began operation on Dec. 31 and was officially opened by the mayor and Councillor Norm Kelly on Jan. 4.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jeff Carmichael

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.


First phase of new Vaughan downtown breaks ground

Cortel broke ground this week on the first phase of a major development that both the developer and the City of Vaughan hope will be the first step to urbanizing this northern suburb.

Expo City will ultimately include five residential towers within walking distance of a new subway stop, just east of Jane Street at Highway 7, part of the York University extension.

"This is the beginning of a new neighbourhood, Vaughan's downtown," says developer Peter Cortellucci. "Expo will offer its residents the first opportunity to be a part of this amazing downtown. The citizens of Vaughan will see firsthand the transformation of the Highway 7 corridor from a congested and industry-driven area to an exciting pedestrian friendly downtown avenue."

This first tower is expected to be finished by 2014, with the subway opening in 2015, roughly in tandem with the opening of Expo City’s second phase.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Cortellucci, Vice President, Cortel Group

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.


Downtown-style development that will house up to 5,000 people launches in Vaughan

Vaughan is about to join Markham and Mississauga in redefining suburbia.

Taking its lead from the construction of the York University subway station, the first to be planned outside the city of Toronto, Expo City is the first of several planned developments that are meant to eventually cover 400 acres of what is now mostly unused farmland and light industrial grounds.

Developed by Vaughan-based Cortel Group and designed by Alan Tregebov of YYZed Project Management, Expo City is a five-tower, 1,933-unit project.

"It would not be very different from downtown Toronto," Tregebov says. Among five-storey buildings, much taller towers will define the skyline. "It would not be very different from most cities, it's not a suburban form, it's very urban."

Expo City, launched last week, will be built up near the intersection of highways 7 and 400. The stretch of Highway 7 going through the development will be renamed Avenue 7.

Tregebov estimates that all five towers, each slated to be between 37 and 39 storeys high, will be completed in five to seven years.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Alan Tregebov

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.

Farsi community gets $2-million centre with $1-million renovation including $439,000 Trillium grant

The city's Persian community is getting its own community centre, thanks in part to a grant from the Trillium Foundation.

The Parya Trillium Foundation, started in 2002, has been operating since 2008 out of a rented 15,000 square foot space at 7171 Yonge Street. Thanks to the $439,000 grant, announced last month, Parya has started to renovate an old Canuck Kitchen manufacturers office building, 10,000 square feet at 344 John Street in Thornhill, on about 1.3 acres of land.

Work has already begun, and Parya founder and president Ahmad Tabrizi figures it will be ready in two or three months to serve their 800 registered members and, more generally, the larger community of approximately 100,000 Farsi-speaking Torontonians.

The building cost about $2 million, and the renovations are expected to clock in at about another million. The funds not provided by Trillium have been and continue to be raised through donations.

"The new one will be more efficient," Tabrizi says, speaking of the fact that they can do whatever they want with this space, but weren't able to make any physical changes to 7171 Yonge. "There's less space, but it will be more productive for us."

The contractor for the project is Pegah Construction Ltd., and the renovation was designed by Icon Architects.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source; Ahmad Tabrizi

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.


Excavation will be complete in April on 10-acre, 1.8-million square foot World on Yonge

Excavation is nearly complete on the 10-acre site that will be the World on Yonge, a 1.8-million square foot mixed-use development at Yonge and Doncaster.

The former site of a Hy & Zel's anchored strip mall at 7171 Yonge Street, the development is one of several large-scale mixed-use projects designed over the past several years by Kirkor Architects. The World on Yonge schedule more or less mirrors another of these, the Hullmark Centre, south on Yonge at Sheppard.

Once completed, it will include a retail plaza, office tower, hotel and four residential towers, all by Liberty Development.

Originally scheduled to be built in four phases, sales and rentals were brisk enough, according to Kirkor's Cliff Korman, that it's been reduced to two. "It sold so well," he says, "that 1.1 million square feet is being done all at once."

The first phase will be the retail plaza and the facades facing Yonge Street, including 700 residential units, 120 hotel room, 250,000 square feet of retail, and 180,000 square feet of commercial.

Once excavation is completed in April, Korman expects it will take about 9 months to put in the 2,408 underground parking spaces.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Cliff Korman

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.


LCBO to open new 10,000 square foot shop in rapidly expanding Vaughan market

It's official: LCBO spending is up; the recession is over. And the Board is building.

Over the course of the last couple of years, the LCBO noticed that the people who were buying, were buying lower-end brands, "stretching their dollar," according to LCBO spokesman and official recession-ender Chris Layton.

But this past December, spending was up 8 per cent over the previous December. But more significantly, spending in the Vintages sections -- where the primo stuff is kept -- was up 22 per cent.

"We've seen a return, post-recession, to what we call trading up," Layton says. "People are now spending more and looking for higher quality products."

One of the next new stores will be a 10,000 square foot location at Weston Road and Major Mackenzie Drive in Vaughan, currently scheduled to open in March. With a total of 6,600 square feet of selling area, the new store is a reflection of what Layton sees as especially significant growth in the area.

"We've seen a lot of growth, dramatic growth in Vaughan," he says. "We've actually done a lot in the way of new store development there."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Chris Layton

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.


Family cabinetry business in Vaughan moves, expands and undergoes a $1-million reno

A second-generation family kitchen installation business has consolidated and expanded in a million-dollar move to Steeles and 400 in Vaughan.

QTK Fine Cabinetry also rebranded with the help of Blackjet Inc. – it was formerly known as Quality Tops and Kitchens – as it made the move from two buildings, 11,000 square feet and 20,000 square feet, into the single 45,000 square foot location in June.

"We've always been looking for a new building for operational efficiencies," says general manager Daniel Toto, son of Tony and Mary Toto, who founded the company in 1974, "and with the recession, the American company that owned the building was shutting up shop in Canada."

The Totos bought the building in August, 2009 and spent the first five months setting up the factory portion of the operation and the next seven months designing and building the offices, under the direction of architect Michael Amantea.

The only thing left is the showroom, with space for 11 kitchens, of which two, both fully functional, have already been installed.

Toto figures the whole thing will be finished by next summer.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Daniel Toto

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


Vaughan to get new 5,000 square foot LCBO

Imbibing Vaughan residents will get a mileage break at the end of the month when the Rutherford Market Place LCBO opens at 9310 Bathurst Street.

With a selling area of 5,000 square feet and about 1,500 products (including about 250 Vintages ones), LCBO spokesman Steve Erwin says, "The store should take some sales pressure off of a nearby Richmond Hill location at Yonge St. and Highway 7. It also gives an opportunity for one-stop shopping, since the new Rutherford Market Place, which will also have a Shoppers Drug Mart, Royal Bank and hair-cutting place and a dollar store."

The shop, which is being opened to reflect the higher population density in Vaughan, will also have a portable tasting bar.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Erwin

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

76,000 square foot Rutherford Village Plaza nearing completion


The 76,000 square foot Rutherford Village Plaza at the corner of Bathurst and Rutherford is taking shape, with a Longo's that opened on Dec. 2, a 17,000 square foot Shoppers Drug Mart and an LCBO already in place, and a new RBC opening up in May, relocated from their nearby Thornlea location.

Known in its planning stages and during construction as the Rutherford Market Place, it was a source of much local speculation in this close-knit, mostly Jewish Vaughan neighbourhood. Aroma Café, the Israeli chain with a flagship store at the corner of Bloor and Albany in the Annex, was rumoured to be opening a location there, but plans have either shifted or been put on hold, possibly a reaction to Second Cup being one of the Plaza's anchor tenants.

According to First Capital, the realty corporation behind the development, there are 13,412 residents within 1km of the Plaza, forming 4,148 households with an average household income of $113,482.

 

Writer: Bert Archer

Source: First Capital

14 Vaughan Articles | Page:
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