Toronto’s Urban Ecosystem Grows South
In Ontario the lines have been clearly drawn between the place for people and the place for wilderness. That’s why the provincial plan that effectively halted urban sprawl was called Places to Grow.
Our urban habitat is expected to develop inward. We will soon live, work, and play in an energy efficient, mostly car-free ecosystem that connects us, and all our needs, by transit.
Harbour Plaza Residences and its joined commercial building One York Street are the continuation of the live-work-play ideal being planned downtown.
The project combines two residential towers of 64 and 68 storeys with each containing 1200 residences, connected to the 33-floor office tower at One York. All three buildings will share a podium with three floors of retail space.
Conveniently tucked between the Gardiner Expressway and the Lakeshore, the complex will have direct PATH connection. PATH currently consists of 28 km of underground walkways that connect pedestrians to buildings and transit in the downtown core.
Just south of Maple Leaf Square, Harbour Plaza Residences is one of several projects that are rapidly filling in an area dubbed the South Core and expanding the reach of PATH.
Southcore is a surprisingly small area between Queens Quay and Front St., Simcoe St., and Bay St. These six blocks may eventually hold 4.5 million square feet of office space if all proposed buildings come to fruition.
Menkes, the developer of both One York and Harbour Plaza, was an early adaptor of the Southcore area, completing the Telus building at 25 York in 2009. When they broke ground on 25 York, the area was still a sea of parking lots.
“For us it always made a lot of sense because of the transportation connection,” explains Mimi Ng, VP of Residential Sales and Marketing for Menkes. “Look at where union station is … how could this not be a great site?”
Now, several builders are making investments in new downtown office space there. New buildings are very attractive to businesses looking for energy efficient digs conveniently located near transit.
Menkes’ partner for One York, which broke ground earlier this year, is HOOPP (Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan).
Harbour Plaza Residences is a partnership between Menkes and Oxford, a global real estate development company owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of Canada’s largest pension funds.
Oxford is co-owner of Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and in Southcore it is currently building RBC Waterpark Place at 10-20 Bay St. and has proposed a commercial co-development at 30 Bay St. with the Toronto Port Authority connected by PATH to the One York building.
Cadillac Fairview, owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, is also planning a commercial building at 16 York St.
In short, all the land in Southcore is sold, in the hands of major investors. “These are players with a long-term vision. This was not a short term play,” says Ng.
The thousands of local jobs these buildings are adding means housing will need to keep up.
A day in the life
What will it be like to live somewhere like Harbour Plaza?
For one, you can do a lot more walking, either along the PATH system as far as 3 km to Yonge and Dundas for some shopping, or a few blocks south along the Waterfront to Harbourfront Centre.
You don’t need to cross the street for PATH access, just take the sky bridge from the second floor of One York to Air Canada Centre’s PATH tributary.
You’ll be taking possession in 2018, so all the kinks will have been worked out of the Union-Pearson express by then. You can put your shorts on and walk to Union Station and head for Miami in January without the burden of your Canada Goose.
Assuming you will work somewhere nearby, make sure you don’t take casual Fridays too far. You may feel like you’re working from home, but if your boss is still driving in from Oakville, your bunny slippers may cause resentment.
Levels 4 and 5 of Harbour Plaza will be filled with quality amenities, so you can ditch the gym membership. It will no longer be a hassle to get a run in on your lunch break.
If you ever need to rent out your unit, just stick a sign up in the elevator. The entire neighbourhood comes with employed tenants tired of commuting who are looking to get in to the building.
• Architect: Architects Alliance Peter Clewes
• Interiors: Ciccone Simone
• Contractor: Menkes
• Fitness centre, weight, cardio, pilates, and spinning rooms
• Indoor pool with poolside lounge
• Juice bar and onsite recreation coordinator
• Men’s and women’s change rooms with lockers, showers, and steam rooms
• Business centre
• Expansive landscaped outdoor terraces
• Party room with kitchen and bar facilities, casual and formal dining areas
• Fireplace, theatre, and lookout lounges
• Outdoor BBQ areas and fireplace