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Queen/King West : Development News

89 Queen/King West Articles | Page: | Show All

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

Massive redevelopment of Globe and Mail site gets nod from Design Review Panel

When the revised design for The Well development went to Toronto’s Design Review Panel last week, the Diamond corp team came out smiling. The presentation, which showed off the new-look main 36-storey office building on the massive 7.7-acre site between Front and Wellington, was approved by unanimous vote without conditions—and with a few compliments.
 
“I actually wrote them down,” says Lucy Cameron, vice president of planning at Diamond corp, which is working with RioCan and Allied Properties to redevelop the property that’s the current home of The Globe and Mail, plus an adjacent site at Spadina. (In 2016 the paper plans to move to a new building on King Street East, next door to rival of sorts, the Toronto Sun.) The panel also got a more detailed sense of The Well’s master plan, which would be 40 per cent public space, including walkways connecting Front and Wellington streets.
 
“We think it’s a missing link between Clarence Square and Victoria Memorial Park, where Wellington can act as a green space and open space connector between the two, so we’re putting that forward as a public realm improvement,” says Cameron.
 
The new renderings for The Well also depicted the development as being connected below-ground to a subway-type stop facing the train tracks south of Front at Spadina. It’s a nod to Mayor John Tory’s proposed SmartTrack plan, which would use existing rail lines to improve city transit. The plan hasn’t gotten to the point where people are talking stops yet, but…. “It’s a little nudge. We’re putting ourselves forward that we’re interested in talking about whether a station could be a reality here,” says Cameron.
 
When they began the project more than two years ago and were first grappling with how to handle such a large and complex development, the Diamond corp team, along with architect, David Pontarini, went on a field trip to Europe, particularly central London, looking for inspiration.
 
“We knew we wanted it to be a little bit different. We wanted an amazing urban design that would integrate office, retail and residential all in a community that had a bit of heritage character, but needed to respond to new urbanism and the modern city living experience,” says Cameron. London gave them ideas about how to manage so much retail—more than 400,000 square feet—while maintaining a village feeling.
 
If the planning department accepts the proposals, construction would start in early 2016 or late 2017.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Lucy Cameron

Great Gulf abandons luxury for affordability with new Queen and Dufferin condos

Sometimes a developer has to admit when it has misjudged the neighbourhood.
 
Back in 2012, Great Gulf Homes announced a plan to build luxury townhouses on Florence Street at Dufferin, north of Queen West. Although the area has been rapidly gentrifying, the steep prices for Lighthaus, starting at $1 million, raised a few eyebrows. Even though the units were big and the design innovative, it seemed a little misplaced in the emerging neighbourhood. So about 15 months ago, Great Gulf set aside its Lighthaus idea and went back to the drawing board.
 
The new vision, Brockton Commons, will go on sale in the four to six weeks, with construction slated for the fall. And it’s much more in line with the relaxed up-and-coming-but-not-establishment-yet feel of the neighbourhood. Even the name is a nod to history, community and modesty, not hipness.
 
“The market in that area is really more value-oriented and more family-oriented,” says Chris Wein, president of Great Gulf Homes. “We spent the last year doing the redesign, doing public consultation, working with the city, the planning department and the local councillor to arrive at what we have now.”
 
Rather than 20 homes starting at 2,200 square feet, Brockton Commons will be 36 units of stacked towns and row houses starting at 900 square feet, priced from $370,000. The build will be less daring, though several units will have rooftop terraces. Designed by TACT, a firm that’s worked on nearby projects like 2 and 8 Gladstone and Edge condos, Brockton Commons will bring a solidly modern look to a street that’s a bit of a hodge-podge.
 
“Brockton really represents a new opportunity for us,” says Wein, who’s also behind the landmark (and very upscale) tower at 1 Bloor East. “You’re going to be seeing more and more inner city in-fill sites like this one. It’s pretty exciting to look at neighbourhoods like Parkdale, Queen West, Leslieville, which have pockets where that scale of development can come to fruition.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Chris Wein

Toronto wins award for the way it handles graffiti

The key to the way Toronto handles its graffiti is co-option. Instead of anathematizing vandals, Toronto works with street artists. The result: We will have no Banksy to call our own, but Vogue does seem to like Queen West an awful lot.

“We recognized from the outset that we would not be able to eliminate graffiti vandalism,” says Elyse Parker, a director in the city’s transportation services, but that they would be able to achieve goals in enforcement and support for victims of vandalism and for street artists. “What is unique to Toronto and the graffiti management program is it was recognized that what look like mutually exclusive approaches to graffiti can exist simultaneously. Our new by-law recognizes that graffiti art is permitted, provided there is agreement from the property owner, the graffiti is created for purposes of enhancement, and consistent with the local neighbourhood character.

“The city now has an excellent relationship with the graffiti and street art community. We have a street art directory which lists about 90 artists, who the public can access and engage with. We continue to develop programs, projects and services that will meet our four areas of direction. For example, in year two, we started our ‘outside the box’ program where we engage artists to paint or wrap traffic signal boxes, which are unattractive and magnets for tagging.”

The by-law, which was passed by council in 2011, has resulted in mass erasures of graffiti determined to be vandalism, over 200,000 square feet of the stuff in 2014 alone, with more, Parker says, if you count the independent efforts of individual business improvement areas (BIAs), school boards and homeowners.

The definition if vandalism is simple: Does the painter have the permission of the owner of the property she is painting on? If not, she’s a vandal. It might be argued that the very nature of graffiti and other forms of street are is transgressive, that it draws much of its energy from the unilateral commandeering of public or private property for its own ends.

But then again there is something to be said for painted traffic signal boxes over tagged ones.

And it seems the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and Deloitte agree. They've awarded the city a silver-level Public Sector Leadership Award for its program. (The gold went to a similarly successful effort in co-option, the Quebec city of Repentigny’s Skate Plaza.)

As far as the Queen West BIA is concerned, the graffiti program has helped them enormously.

“They believe that one of the reasons that Vogue magazine named them last July as the second coolest neighbourhood in the world is because of the street art in their neighbourhood and the relationship they have with street artists,” Parker says. “They claim that their costs to remove graffiti vandalism have been reduced by 40 per cent since the inception of the program.”

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Elyse Parker

The beginning of private transit in Toronto?

After a successful pilot project launched in the fall, Line Six is set to expand its alternative transit service.

Starting January 19, people will be able to catch the private bus service, which Line Six is calling the Liberty Village Express, between Liberty Village and Union Station during morning and evening rush hours, as well as buy passes, track buses and find stop with an app.

The price starts at $4.25 a ride for pass-holders, roughly 40 per cent higher than TTC’s cash fare.

Founded by Brett Chang and Taylor Scollon, both recent U of T graduates, Line Six is a technology company that charters buses to do the actual transporting. For the time being they figure this gets them around the legal grey area of providing private transit in a city with a legal municipal monopoly.

The King streetcar line is famously oversubscribed, which makes it an ideal platform for Line Six’s innovations, which include the ability to book seats on more than one form of transportation. In essence, it’s a sort of transit version of Uber.

And being a technology company, it’s entirely possible that, should it prove successful, the TTC itself may end up being a licensee.

“The future of transit is not going to be people only using one system,” Scollon told the Globe and Mail, who listed the pair as part of the top 10 people making a difference in Toronto in 2014. “It’s going to take a variety of systems to get people from point A to point B.”
 
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Dominic Ali

Smart House takes possession of its site on Queen

According to the developer, things are finally going to get moving on the Smart House condos.

According to Brenda Hamilton, Malibu Investment’s assistant marketing manager, they finally took possession of the site — a parking lot one door west of University on Queen — this week.

Designed by Architects Alliance, with interiors by II By IV, the idea behind Smart House is to offer affordably tiny condos in the heart of downtown.

Starting at under 300 square feet and topping out at less than 800, though it’s not the first to offer small units, Smart House is the first development to make a virtue out of its confined spaces.

The idea is that, at Queen and University, you don’t actually need that much room with the city and all its amenities laid out at your doorstep: restaurants instead of kitchen space, parks instead of lounging area. Though they probably wouldn’t use the tagline themselves, the concept is that you sleep in the condo, but you live in the city.

Hamilton says construction is likely to start in the next couple of weeks.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Brenda Hamilton

One King West gets a reno for its 100th birthday

One King West is receiving a centennial makeover. 

“The goal of the entire project,” says Matt Black, director of marketing for the iconic building, “is once it’s done for people to say ‘What did they do?’ That would be a huge success.”

The 51-storey hotel and residence is giving its 100-year-old base, the old Dominion Bank, the rough equivalent of a $3-million spit shine.

“Externally we are beginning removing the terracotta as well as some pointing work,” Black says of the work going on this week. “Each terracotta tile has to be carefully copied and replicated by a specialty company in the US. There are over 700 individual tiles that have to be painstakingly replicated in order to maintain the exact look and design as originally intended by Darling and Pearson.”

Darling and Pearson was a late-19th- and early 20th-century Toronto architectural firm who did work all around eastern and central Canada, including U of T’s Convocation Hall, the original AGO and ROM, the North Toronto CP Rail station, better known these days as the Summerhill LCBO.

Inside, they’ve almost finished another renovation covering the hotel suites and corridors, which Black says cost another $9 million.

Black estimates the work will be done by April.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Matt Black

 

Her Majesty's Pleasure rethinks salon concept

You’ll be forgiven for not knowing quite what you’re passing when you pass Her Majesty’s Pleasure on King at Portland at the bottom of the just-occupied Freed Fashion House condo.

Technically, it’s a salon. But from the street, it looks like an especially well designed cafe, the sort we’ve tried to have around these parts, the sort the Marilyn Monroe Cafe tried briefly to be. And it’s that, too. It’s also a bar.

“We noticed, in the first week, it was interesting how people discovered the place,” says John Tong, the designer behind the project. “If it was just a beauty salon, people would just walk by. Because we put the cafe and bar up front, people saw that, came in, saw the display case, saw the croissants, walked a little bit farther back, saw some retail, and then you look through the glass screen between the bar and salon and you see: 'Oh my gosh you’re in a beauty salon.'”

The idea behind the place came from the owners, architecture student Sara Kardan and former investment banker Jeff Armstrong.

Tong, who designed Civello’s on Queen Street some years ago with a tea bar in the back, sees this as the logical extension of the concept.

“In the process of mapping out the customer engagement, it turned itself inside out. We fronted it with a cafe and bar, with reception midway through the journey through the place at a retail intersection before ever seeing any services,” he says. “We really brought people’s attention to the idea that these services are the backdrop to social interaction.”

Tong describes the aesthetic as a balance between masculine and feminine, the better to draw in a larger crowd than would generally find itself in a salon, and to cater to the male companion of she who is about to be primped.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John Tong

Weekend planners walk scopes out West Queen West

This weekend, about 65 people walked around  bits of Ward 18 with their councillor, Ana Bailao, and a few of the city’s planning staff talking about Queen Street past and future.

“We discussed everything from public space to the heritage buildings,” Councillor Bailao says, “how the older buildings were in relation to some of the new condos. The Gladstone, what is now the Theatre Centre that used to be a Carnegie library. How people see all that integrating is really important.”

It’s an approach to the public meeting the city’s been using for a few years now, getting citizens out of the meeting rooms and away from the Powerpoint and into the streets.

“I think it’s extremely valuable,” Bailao says. “You experience the environment you’re talking about, the heights of the buildings, the light, the contrasts; you’re looking at what’s going to be the new park.”

The walk, and the report that will follow in February based on the participants comments, is the result of a November, 2013 city council decision to do a planning study of Queen between Bathurst and Roncesvalles, an area that could, given recent precedent, end up being known as West West Queen West, or Queen West West West.

According to the city, the study is looking at “heritage character and value of buildings in the area, built-form and height of new developments, existing policy context, transit capacity and parking in the area, public space improvements, understanding and defining the character of the street and developing a vision for future development along the street.”

A preliminary report was issued at a more traditional community consultation on July 10 of this year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ana Bailao

Women's College Hospital's fašade joins the streetscape

Women’s College Hospital was, geographically speaking, always the outlier, tucked away up Elizabeth Street way, several blocks from University Avenue’s hospital row.

Then it raised a lot of money and started rebuilding itself in 2010. It’s still not on hospital row — its street address is still the same, in fact: 76 Grenville — but its presence in the city has skyrocketed, due mainly to its striking concrete College Street facade by architects Perkins Eastman Black and the IBI Group.

It’s not quite done yet, though the facade in its full neo-brutalist splendour is just now emerging. Though facilities moved into the new spaces in May, the work on the new 630,000 square foot complex is not due to be finished until 2016.

If CEO Marilyn Emery has her way, the new Women’s College Hospital will not only be more visible, it’ll be much more part of the community.

Due to what can only be called extreme consultation measures, including 25 focus groups and 35 online forums, the hospital’s interior design is looking to accommodate the women who live in the city now.

“Like seniors,” she told Yonge Street earlier in the development process, “and lesbian and queer women, lesbian and queer youth, the transgendered, women with addictions, abused women, women with disabilities, women living with HIV-AIDS, street workers, women with mental health issues, lower-income women, recent immigrants, Tamil women, Bengali women, Caribbean women, Mandarin-speaking women.…”

Emery trailed off, acknowledging that the list of Toronto’s diversity, at present and in the 30-year future she’s currently envisioning for the hospital, is more extensive than a single quotation can encompass.

Ace Hotel-inspired condo rising at Richmond and Spadina

Inspired by the Ace hotel chain in the US, and influenced by its neioghbourhood's garment district history, Fabrik is about to begin its rise on Richmond at Spadina.

“Excavation is well underway,” says Menkes Development Ltd.'d VP of high-rise residential Jared Menkes, whose baby it is, “and we are approaching the bottom of the hole. Soon people in the neighbourhood will see our crane go up, for the start of concrete pouring, when we begin working on the parking garage.”

Designed inside and out by Giannone Petricone and Associates, the 17-storey just-above-midrise tower will fit in well with the similarly massed existing buildings along Spadina.

Giannone “were incredibly thoughtful in their design approach,” Menkes says. “All of the common areas incorporate small details and features that nod to the local area's history as Toronto's garment / fashion district. Giannone Petricone is responsible for the design of the Terroni restaurants in Toronto, and anyone who's been to Terroni would understand their great design aesthetic.”

The development is part of what may be a trend in next-generation condos in the city drawing their inspiration from, or being influenced by hotels.

Fabrik is being built on the site of the old King Textiles.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jared Menkes

New Arc'teryx store opens at Queen and John

When you go to Gstaad to learn to ski, you'll notice something about the instructors. They all wear the same orange ski jackets. They look pretty cool in them, and if you ask, they'll sing the jackets' praises, telling you how you can mold the hood in any number of ways depending on the visibility and wind conditions, how the bright orange makes them visible in even the worst conditions. They love these things. And they're made by Arc'teryx.

You've been able to get them at all the more serious outdoors shops, but on Friday, the company finally opened a 2,700 square foot standalone store on Queen at John, at the site of the old Quicksilver shop, conceived and executed by the Arc'teryx design team.

Like Canada Goose, Arc'teryx – an abbreviation of the name of the earliest identified bird fossil discovered at the time of the company's foundation in 1989 -- was conceived and founded in Canada, the sort of company the country could be proud of, that reminded us that we are indeed a Northern nation and know a thing or two about the outdoors.

And like Canada Goose, Arc'teryx, founded in North Vancouver, sold out to a French firm in 2001, which was then bought by Adidas, and then sold to a Finnish company. Its headquarters are still in Burnaby, B.C., though much of its stuff is now made in China, Vietnam, and elsewhere. It currently employs 600 people.

Queen and John is its 13th standalone shop, with immediate future plans to open numbers 14 through 16 in Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C.

As its Toronto communications person says, though Arc'teryx products will continue to be available in shops aorund town, "Our brand stores are the only location where customers can experience the complete Arc’teryx offering."

Arc'teryx may not be Canadian anymore, but like William Shatner and Jim Carrey, we can still be proud of them.

Writer: Bert Archer

Fifty-five storeys going up at University and Dundas with indoor connection to subway

The hotel/condo thing did't work for Toronto – see 1 King West – so developer Amexon is trying out a more likely model: a condo that behaves like a hotel.

Construction has begun on 488 University, a 55-storey condo tower being built on the site of the old 480 University at the northwest corner of University and Dundas, and when it opens in November, 2017, it will include something called Sky Club. It's a bit of a shtick, but it may also move the bar on condo amenities in the city. Sky Club includes the regular social space and a fitness centre. They've got a pool too, but it's saltwater, and they throw in a spa, a restaurant, a bar and a concierge, all open to residents and their guests.

It doesn't go as far as it might in staving off the grand privatization of the downtown core – condos with bars and restaurants and rooftops open to the public would be much better – but by explicitly inviting guests to take advantage of what's essentially a gym/spa, it goes a little further than most.

Fifty-five of the 453 units will be three-bedroom – also a step in the right direction – but families looking for space to raise their children in condos will still have to come up with a minimum of $750,000 to do it in this building.

The tower was designed by Deni Poletti of CORE Architects, with interiors by Dan Menchions of II x IV and will be incorporating everything but the façade of the old structure into the new tower. Along with the RCMI down the street at 426 University, 488 could very well liven up University Avenue and encourage more retail along what's now just hospital row. Amexon is planning on signing up a restaurant, a cafe and what spokesman Jason Shiff refers to as a “gourmet food store” to occupy the base of the building.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jason Shiff

Temporary bridges open at Dufferin

Last week, drivers got their Dufferin back.

On April 11, the temporary bridges replacing the old and hastily condemned Dufferin Bridge opened to traffic, allowing vehicles to get to and from Lake Shore Blvd. West and Exhibition Place via Dufferin once again.

These modular bridges, erected at a cost of about $3 million, will stand in for the permanent structures over the GO/Metrolinx tracks and the Gardiner, which are not expected to be completed until 2019.

"The permanent work at this site is a complex project," says Frank Clarizio, director fo capital works delivery for the city. "In addition, the elevation of Dufferin Street will be raised to allow for the extra vertical clearance required for the future electrification of the rail corridor. The schedule for the work will also depend on other major Transportation projects planned for the area."

The design of the new bridge is being worked out now, and its construction schedule set. The cost of the permanent work will be about $20 million.

The old bridge was closed to traffic on June 12, 2013, and to pedestrians on Oct. 9. The 101-year-old structure was demolished on Dec. 2.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Frank Calrizio

Developer announces new neighbourhood on the site of the old Globe and Mail

If Steve Diamond has his way, the dead zone along Spadina between Wellington and Front will soon be unrecognizable.

The 7.7 acre site, home for years to a car dealership and the Globe and Mail, has the potential to be a neighbourhood unto itself, a mixed-use development like the Shops at Don Mills, but downtown, and therefore part of the urban fabric.

"We're coming forward with a project that’s innovative and unparalleled, not only in terms of product but of the partnership behind it," says Diamond, president and CEO of Diamond Corp.

He’s calling it The Well, a play on Wellington, but also because the well is the traditional communal gathering place. With Riocan REIT handling the retail, Allied REIT the million square feet of office space, and Diamond the million square feet of residential units, both condos and townhouses, Diamond hopes this will be a fully functional urban community.

"People will be able to live, work and play within the same area," Diamond says, "but the retail is not a mall, it’s more of a traditional pedestrian way, open to the sky, neither heated nor enclosed."

When asked if the concept was similar to the Smart Centres that have touted a similar outdoor approach to shopping, Diamond’s answer was unequivocal.

"Oh my god, it’s completely different," he said. "There’s no above-grade parking on the site whatsoever. The majority of the uses are small retail uses We are not interested, for example, in Wal-Mart or Target. Everything is oriented in terms of the street and along pedestrian walkways. We believe there’ll be a population of 60,000 within a five-minute walk of the site, and that the majority of our visitors will be walking to the site."

Diamond went further and distinguished what he hopes to do – the permit applications are going in next month – from what Concord Adex did in the railway lands just to the south pointing out that the lack of retail has hobbled it as a neighbourhood.

Asked for a point of comparison, Diamond points to Butler’s Wharf in London, which he took the entire team to visit during the planning of The Well.

If built as planned, the site will have one 34-storey office building, with several smaller towers stepping down going east to six storeys. The parcel of land incudes a sliver of heritage-protected Draper Street next door, a slice Diamond says they’ll be turning into a "pocket park."

The master architect for the project is Hariri Pontarini, with landscaping by Claude Cormier.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Diamond
89 Queen/King West Articles | Page: | Show All
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