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Development News

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
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