Downtown Toronto’s waterfront is a mixed bag. It’s long been full of potential, but, sadly, never much of a destination for development. Despite being within walking distance from the downtown core and boasting gorgeous views of the lake, it’s mostly remained a concrete landscape. It’s cut off from the rest of the city and largely dominated by swathes of underutilized space — all remnants of a languishing industrial sector.
The good news? Waterfront Toronto and a series of developers have set their sights on the area, carefully planning to shape it into what could be a world-class destination, with each new developer bringing something unique to the table. With upcoming developments in store, the waterfront is slated to go from being one of the most underwhelming parts of downtown to one of the most dynamic.
There are many waterfront developments headed to the neighbourhood, but these are some of our favourite projects that are set to upgrade the district in a big way.
Currently housing the shuttered Unilever Factory, First Gulf has presented the site to the city as a future master-planned community to be named East Harbour. This 60-acre site at the foot of Toronto’s Don River is currently Canada’s largest commercial development in the works.
It’s slated to be for employment use only, and it’s going to add more than 50,000 jobs to the eastern side of the downtown core. No residential space is proposed, however, we suspect the developers may apply to the city for a rezoning. This could easily open the doors to the addition of condos or townhomes as well.
Either way, it will be a huge game-changer for the surrounding area. Great Gulf’s official site promises 9.96 million square feet of employment space, 1.7 million square feet of culture and recreation space, 8.5 acres of open space and a multi-modal transit hub.
According to The Toronto Star, the city has officially pitched the site as a contender for the future Amazon headquarters.
Easily the largest project set to impact the waterfront, the Port Lands redevelopment involves 800 acres of languishing industrial land and a government-funded $1.25 billion injection. The latter has been designated toward the land’s transformation.
They’ll sit on man-made industrial lands that jut south of Lake Shore Boulevard East and houses the mouth of the Don River. The Port Lands were originally filled in to accommodate industrial use that has since diminished. Though it’s home to Rebel Nightclub, Cabana Pool Bar and a beach popular in the summer, Waterfront Toronto calls it “one of North America’s largest underused urban areas.”
Though it could take up to 20 years to be completely developed, the project has the potential to add 18,000-25,000 residences for people and 25,000 to 30,000 jobs to the area. The site is also expected to include over 71 acres of naturalized green space, including 13 acres of wetlands and 1,000 metres of naturalized river — it will ultimately create almost an entire city unto itself.
Daniels Corporation, well known for their innovative and socially-conscious master-planned communities such as the Regent Park transformation, is now looking towards a site at Queens Quay East and Lower Jarvis Street, just steps north of Sugar Beach.
One of the most anticipated residential components since the stretch began its urbanization, Daniels Waterfront: City of the Arts will feature two condominium towers, plus a series of low-rise elements featuring community and office space. Most of this office space will be dedicated to businesses in the arts and cultural fields, which is a great way to encourage a sense of vibrancy and community in this part of downtown.
They’re planning new campus space for creative and digital programs at George Brown College and OCAD University. They will also introduce something called The Yard, an outdoor space designed like a European-style breezeway featuring retail, cafes and landscaped pathways that lead directly to the beach. Not only is this a major perk for those living in the towers, but the entire neighbourhood will benefit from some of these components.
This will be a neighbourhood in which the community will live, work, and play, adding 200,000 jobs to the region.
For sheer height, we’ve included Pinnacle International’s multi-phase project set to grace the site at One Yonge Street. In its entirety the community will house five buildings, with its tallest tower being a whopping 95 storeys. This will make it Toronto’s tallest residential tower.
The project will also include retail and office space, a hotel, a public square, and a re-facing of the iconic Toronto Star building which currently occupies the site. A massive community centre and a selection of affordable housing are part of the plan too. Much like the Daniels project, Pinnacle One Yonge is a development that has the potential to benefit the entire neighbourhood and really draw people to the area.
One Yonge Street will likely become one of the most iconic addresses in Toronto, so it only makes sense that this development will also connect to the city’s PATH system, which is the world’s largest underground shopping centre. More importantly, it provides underground access to some of the most important buildings across the Financial District, shielding commuters from those harsh Canadian winters.
This 13 acre master-planned community is a vibrant part of the Waterfront Toronto Revitalization Act. The mixed-use luxury development is calling for 6 mid to high-rise residential towers, all equally unique in architecture and design. The community will span Toronto’s water’s edge between Parliament Street to the east, Lower Sherbourne Street to the west and south of Queens Quay. This makes it the largest project to take place along Lake Ontario’s shore.
As with most of Tridel’s developments, these condos are being built with sustainability in mind, all receiving Platinum Status from LEED. This can be seen throughout the buildings that are all equipped with green roofs.
The Tridel and Hines development is currently in its first phase with the Aqualina tower, which is slated for 12 storeys. We can’t wait for its neighbours Aquabella at Bayside , Aquavista and Aqualuna to follow suit — the expansive project is bound to transform the waterfront and add a vibrant energy to the neighbourhood. This is truly what the waterfront has been waiting for, and investors will want to take note of the central and scenic location of the project that will undeniably attract affluent working professionals.