$700M Daniels’ project
$700M project at site of old Guvernment nightclub set to transform the Toronto waterfront
The Daniels Corporation unveiled its plans for the Guvernment footprint on Thursday — a whopping $700-million development that includes two mid-rise commercial towers, two sky-high residential ones and post-secondary academic space.
Dubbed the “City of the Arts,” it has already secured as tenants Artscape, the non-profit community development agency, talent management firm Last Gang Entertainment, non-profits Manifesto and The Remix Project, and entertainment law firm Taylor Klein Oballa, which represents Gordon Lightfoot and Drake, among others. Daniels says it, too, will be moving its headquarters by the lake.
This is the first development to be built on privately owned land in the city’s new East Bayfront neighbourhood, across the street from the Corus building and the popular Sugar Beach. It comes amid a flurry of construction along the once desolate stretch of the eastern waterfront.
Anchored by Corus and a George Brown College satellite, Tridel condos are planned for south of Queens Quay, between Sherbourne Common park and the Parliament Slip, Monde condominiums will rise north of that, and last month Menkes announced its “innovation centre,” a 350,000-square-foot complex of commercial space for 2,000 employees. Knitting it all together is a promenade along the water’s edge.
At the press conference Thursday, Mayor John Tory paid tribute to Daniels (of TIFF Bell Lightbox and the redevelopment of Regent Park fame) and a style he said captures “that sense of a soul” in Toronto.
“I don’t go to every project that is being opened or initiated in this city,” said Mr. Tory. “I wanted to be here today because it is such a special mix of a place where people will live and work and play and study. And care.”
Tom Dutton, senior vice-president at Daniels, said the company is in talks with George Brown and OCAD University to occupy the academic space.
The commercial component is slated to open in 2018 and will include an RBC branch, along with “local and national brand stores,” restaurants and coffee shops. The residential towers, one at 48 storeys and the other around 38, are part of a second phase of development, to start nine months after the first.
City of the Arts was designed by architects Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. and RAW Design, and drew on the expertise of Toronto urban planner Ken Greenberg. He noted that when all is said and done, there will be three times as many people during the day as there will be at night — a notable flip for a spot where electronic and rock concerts were once the draw.
The project also includes a small extension of Sugar Beach and an east-west pedestrian connection called “The Yard” with shops, cafes and special events.
One piece that is still missing is light-rail transit. While John Campbell, president of Waterfront Toronto, applauded the TTC for providing buses to the area “like a conveyor belt,” he said higher order transit is key. But the project costs $525-million (including a $150-million street rebuild) and no funding. Mr. Campbell said Waterfront Toronto needs to look at how it might trim that price.
Mr. Dutton, with Daniels, called the LRT “very nice to have” and suggested that as development continues, the impetus will grow.
At the Menkes event last month, Mayor Tory said it was a “priority” to bring transit along the east waterfront and that the city is figuring out just how high it ranks.