While it was a challenging year for the new home industry, Toronto developers were able to continue construction work on residential projects after the provincial government deemed it essential. This allowed many developments across the city to break ground or ramp up construction in an effort to help meet the region’s housing needs.
To wrap up our series of new development construction updates in 2020, we’re taking a look back at eight noteworthy projects we covered that either broke ground or saw significant construction progress this year.
1. The Well
Located in downtown Toronto, on the former Globe and Mail headquarters at Spadina Avenue and Front Street West, The Well is one of the city’s most ambitious developments currently under construction. The master-planned community by Tridel spans 7.8 acres and will comprise over three million square feet of office, retail and residential units when it’s completed.
Dine-in food halls, casual eateries, world-class restaurants and fresh food markets will dot the retail atrium, while a new 450-metre linear park with an 18-metre-wide promenade will provide added greenspace to the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, the residential component will consist of three purpose-built rental buildings and three high-rise condominiums.
When we checked in on the project in February, the towers on the eastern part of the site were furthest along, led by the 36-storey, Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed office tower by Allied REIT. On the opposite end of the site, crews and cranes were working simultaneously as construction on the first residential buildings were approaching grade.
Newly built skyscrapers have changed the Toronto skyline over the years, rising higher and higher to carve out prominent spots alongside the iconic CN Tower. The latest challenger vying to be the city’s tallest building is Pinnacle One Yonge. The project actually consists of five towers — three residential and two offices — but includes the 95-storey SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge. At 313 metres (1,026.9 feet), SkyTower will be the tallest building in the country, surpassing the First Canadian Place tower in the Financial District, which has been the country’s tallest skyscraper since 1975.
When we visited the site in September, only the first residential tower was under construction, with crews pouring concrete for the 15th floor. Known as The Prestige Condos at Pinnacle One Yonge, the Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed tower will rise 65 storeys above the southeast corner of the site, due east of the future SkyTower.
3. The One
Once billed as the city’s future tallest building when it was launched in 2017, The One lost that title to Pinnacle One Yonge’s upcoming SkyTower residence. Nevertheless, the project by Mizrahi Developments deserves a spot on our list for its prominent location at Yonge Street and Bloor Street West and its stunning exterior by renowned architectural firm, Foster + Partners.
The One’s architectural design features a unique exoskeleton consisting of an exterior casing made up of bronze diagonal trusses that climb up the length of the tower, providing much of the structural support. The advanced structural engineering and innovative design technique allows for uncontaminated interior spaces with maximum exposure to sunlight, and layouts that homebuyers can customize to suit their needs.
We caught the beginning of the exoskeletenon’s ‘growth’ in September when crews were preparing the structure’s above-grade support system. Four bright yellow temporary supports were visible on the site, which would be used to hold the canted columns in place. These columns form an integral part of the building’s support system as they will transfer loads from the centre of the structure outwards to the exoskeleton.
It’s not every day that Toronto gets a new ‘mountain range’ designed by an international starchitect. King Toronto by Westbank and Allied Properties is doing just that with its eye-catching architecture by Bjarke Ingels that features a series of stepped, terraced apartments with glass-brick facades, extensive greenery and vertical gardens that add to the mountain range feel.
The development is well under construction at 485 King Street West and is expected to be completed in 2023. We visited the site in March when the project was still in the demolition phase and crews were tearing down sections of surrounding buildings and their foundations in preparation for excavation.
5. Mirvish Village
While many in the city were sad to see the famous Honest Ed’s department store close, the future Mirvish Village promises to transform the site into a vibrant master-planned community with a mix of rental residences, affordable housing, public spaces and retail amenities. Plans also call for pedestrian-friendly streets lined with restaurants, boutiques and a new public park.
Work on the project commenced in 2017 when crews began to demolish the existing building, including many of its iconic signs and marquee lights. In May of this year, the project was buzzing with activity as construction passed grade and a total of five cranes rose above the site. On the western edge, Markham Street was closed to traffic and pedestrians as many of the homes were being preserved and renovated since they will be incorporated into the new complex.
Located west of downtown Toronto on the corner of Dufferin and Dupont Street, the Galleria Mall was an aging neighbourhood shopping centre that first opened in 1972. In 2015, Elad Canada purchased the property and announced major plans to redevelop the 20-acre site into a mixed-use community with approximately 2,846 residential suites (including 150 affordable units), 300,000 square feet of retail space and a new eight-acre public park.
The first phase of the redevelopment features a modern, CORE Architects-designed tower called Galleria 01 Condos with interiors by U31. The 29-storey residence officially broke ground in the summer, but we were on site in February to catch some of the demolition work on the beloved mall. By that time, much of the main building had been demolished with piles of concrete, steel and rubble scattered throughout. Only a small section of brick facade remained along Dupont Street, but the southernmost structure, which once housed an LCBO and the Happy Bakery & Pastry, was still standing.
After nearly 20 years of construction, Concord Canada House is the final phase of Toronto’s sprawling CityPlace. The development will be the tallest in the community, with its towers rising 68 and 79 storeys, respectively. It will feature a unique lighting element with programmed LED strips that gradually light up to form an elegant maple leaf shape.
Construction on the project began in 2018, when the presentation centre, which had been used by the developer since the inception of the community, was demolished. After excavating six levels underground, two cranes had been installed on opposite ends of the pit when we dropped by in April. Unfortunately, the site was quiet at the time since lockdown restrictions were still in place, but construction was still expected to reach grade level before the end of the year.
8. The Waverley
Like many projects on our list, The Waverley replaces a famous city landmark or building. In this case, it’s the site of Toronto’s infamous Hotel Waverley. Built in 1900, the property was known for numerous drug and prostitution raids, worn down interiors and some interesting patrons, including Arthur Lucas, a convicted murderer who was executed at the Don Jail in 1962.
We passed by the site at College Street and Spadina Avenue in August when the building topped off and the crane was disassembled. The majority of the structure was also fully enclosed with only the top floor still exposed to the elements, meaning interior work would soon follow.
Unfortunately, in early December, a three-alarm fire broke out causing extensive damage to one of the top floors of the building. Lower levels were also damaged as a result of burning debris dropping down. No injuries were reported, but it’s uncertain how the fire will affect the anticipated 2021 occupancy date.