Canada's Condominium Magazine
The area west of Spadina between Front Street and Wellington may best be described as seriously under-developed. The south side of Front Street is unbuilt, forming the northern border of the main rail corridor into the city. A pedestrian bridge, grandly named the Puente de Luz (Bridge of Light), crosses the wide expanse of rail lands, linking Front Street to the new condo developments to the south. At the northwest corner of Front and Spadina is a large surface parking lot. West of that is the Globe and Mail building, soon to be vacated by the paper, which is moving over to King Street East. There are several low-rise industrial buildings, several more surface parking lots, and a block of houses running from Front to Wellington on Draper Street. The area exudes a forgotten, nothing-to-see-here sort of vibe.
To the east of Spadina, on the other hand, is the vibrant Entertainment District with the Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, the CBC headquarters, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, numerous condominiums, restaurants, clubs and other attractions. The contrast between the two areas, one highly developed the other languishing, separated only by Spadina Avenue, couldn’t be more stark.
It is a contrast that has not escaped the notice of some of the country’s most illustrious developers. A consortium comprising RioCan, Allied Properties and Diamondcorp, known collectively as “The Well JV,” acquired 7.67 acres of the land in 2012/13, with the intention of turning it into a “destinational” retail offering and residential community. Their plan calls for more than 3 million square feet of mixed-use density, of which about 1.43 million square feet will be residential, including rental apartments and condominiums. The rest of the land will be divided between office and retail space in a ratio of approximately two to one. A statement by the developers notes that the “locational attributes” of The Well will be further enhanced by the addition of a GO Transit stop adjacent to the site.
The latest development in the long saga of The Well has now been made public. The residential component of the land has been sold to Tridel and to Woodbourne Canada. Work is to begin next year with the excavation of the site and construction of the underground parking for the residential buildings. The entire project is to be built in one continuous construction period rather than in a phased approach, something that the participation of Tridel and Woodbourne will make possible, according to the developers.
The CEO of RioCan, Edward Sonshine, commented that Tridel and Woodbourne brought to the project “a tremendous amount of experience and expertise” developing high-rise residential, which will greatly assist the consortium in managing the development risk of such a large project. Stephen Diamond, President and CEO of Diamondcorp concurred, adding that they were pleased to partner with companies of the caliber of Tridel and Woodbourne. And Allied Properties CEO Michael Emory called the move a “solid step forward” in the execution of one of the largest and most important intensification projects in downtown Toronto. “In addition to reducing the risk and enhancing the potential return for the initial co-owners, it brings the expertise necessary to initiate construction of the entire project within the timeframe originally contemplated.”
According to reports, the design of The Well will include a thirty-six-storey office building and four residential towers of varying height, with extensive public space. Landscaping, paving treatments, placing of green space, and public art will be designed by Claude Cormier + Associés, a Montreal firm that has been doing a lot of work in Toronto recently, including the park at Tridel’s 300 Front Street condominiums.
No word yet concerning how long construction of the huge development is expected to take.