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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
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