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Tag Archives: cherry street

Building the pieces of a new blue edge

Corktown Common tops landform that moves vision of waterfront to reality

Ryan Starr – Toronto Star

When Waterfront Toronto earlier this year opened Corktown Common, the 18-acre riverside park that is the centrepiece of the burgeoning West Don Lands neighbourhood, it was a poignant moment for the agency’s leader John Campbell.

Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Corktown Common is built atop a massive flood-protection landform, or berm, intended to prevent a severely swollen Don River from pouring into the downtown core.

Without that landform, Campbell points out, none of the development in the West Don Lands – a mixed-use riverside community located on former industrial lands at the foot of Bayview Ave. – would have been possible. That includes the 2015 Pan Am Games athletes’ village, which is nearing completion in the new Canary District neighbourhood, with the Games now months away.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Campbell says in a recent interview at the Waterfront Toronto headquarters.

Building the berm was a monumental feat that required 400,000 cubic metres of dirt fill. Much of the property that became the West Don Lands also required extensive soil remediation. All told, the project took years to carry out and cost $120 million, paid for by the three levels of government that created Waterfront Toronto in 2001. “It was a very complicated, very expensive project,” says Campbell, “but it’s the one that really unlocked the development of that site.”

And development has been progressing at a furious pace of late.

Waterfront Toronto’s $35-billion master plan to transform 2,000 acres of the city’s lakeside lands is the largest urban redevelopment project in North America.

Corktown Common
When all is said and done, Toronto’s “new blue edge” will include 40,000 new residences, more than 1.5-million square feet of employment and office space, and an abundance of retail, services and community amenities, including new parks, schools and transit lines.

One objective of the waterfront redevelopment is to “break the North American family model”: people live downtown in their 20s and early 30s, then have kids and move to the burbs, and ultimately move back to town when they hit their 50s. “That’s not a sustainable model,” Campbell says.

“In our case, these structures should be flexible to allow you, if you have kids, to buy your neighbour’s unit, if it’s available.”

The waterfront project will take at least 25 years to complete, which is fine by Campbell. “You don’t get to do this very often, so you do it right, take your time, and build quality,” he says. “You put the right things in there.”

In the West Don Lands, the first of two new waterfront precincts under construction, the development of River City is entering its third phase of four. Built by Urban Capital Property Group, the neighbourhood – which serves as the eastern gateway to the transformed waterfront – will include more than 900 condos and townhouses.

“They made use of that (flood protection) infrastructure to build in an area where people didn’t think you could ever develop.”

To the west of River City, the second community in the West Don Lands, Canary District, will serve as the athletes’ village for the Pan Am Games. After the Games, the buildings – built by Dundee Kilmer Developments, will be repurposed to include 800 market-rate condos and 250 affordable rental apartments, as well as a 500-bed George Brown College residence and new YMCA.

East Bayfront
Over in the second new waterfront precinct, East Bayfront – located between Lower Jarvis and Parliament Street – Great Gulf Homes recently launched Monde, a 40-storey translucent tower designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. Monde is Safdie’s first Canadian residential project since he designed the Habitat complex for Expo 67 in Montreal. With staggered, rotating balconies, the building will include 550 condos and ground-level retail and office space.

Also in East Bayfront, Tridel has teamed up with Hines on the development of the precinct’s second residential project, Aquavista at Bayside, after launching Aqualina.

The East Bayfront is already home to the headquarters for Corus Entertainment, George Brown College’s waterfront campus, and two new parks, Sherbourne Common and Sugar Beach.

And in the coming years Waterfront Toronto plans to develop a 350,000-square-foot innovation centre to lure high-tech companies to the waterfront. The facility will be powered by Waterfront Toronto’s open-access, ultra-high-speed broadband community network, a first in Canada. “It’s a big part of our strategy to get jobs down here,” Campbell says.

While real estate development is vital to the success of the master plan, Campbell stresses that his agency’s No. 1 focus is on creating “quality of place” along the waterfront.

In addition to the parks, retail and landscaping improvements, infrastructure to accommodate transit – including future LRT lines along Queens Quay and down Cherry St. – are being built. All buildings in the master plan development are being built to a minimum LEED Gold standard.

To ensure the socio-economic sustainability of the community, Waterfront Toronto is requiring that all future developments incorporate “structural flexibility, ” enabling partitions to be knocked out to combine smaller units if that’s what the market eventually demands.

“The private sector is great at building today what sells tomorrow,” says Campbell, a former senior executive with Brookfield Properties. “But what about 10, 20 years from now?”

Campbell has a grand vision for the remaking the Toronto waterfront. He also has the power and tenacity to see it become reality. With 200 acres of prime real estate under his agency’s control, Campbell knows Waterfront Toronto will play an essential role in shaping the future of development in this city.

“We see ourselves as an agent of market transformation,” he says.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.