SmartCentres Proposes Landmark High Rise at Yonge and Wellington

Source: UrbanToronto

A new tower is set to rise at Yonge and Wellington that will grace the skyline of Toronto’s growing Financial District. SmartLiving, the residential sub brand of SmartCentres REIT, is proposing a redevelopment at 49-51 Yonge Street. Currently home to a restaurant and offices, the pair of heritage buildings will be preserved and transformed into the base of a new 60-storey mixed-use tower designed by architects–Alliance.

49-51 Yonge Street, SmartCentres REIT, architects–Alliance, SmartLiving, GBCA Architects, Toronto
Close-up of the base of the tower, image courtesy of SmartLiving.

The proposed building will contain over 1,700m² of commercial office space located on Levels 2 through 5, a slight increase from the existing commercial space currently on the site. The residential portion of the tower above will contain 258 condominium units in a variety of sizes, ranging from one to three bedrooms. Amenity spaces are proposed for the 6th, 21st, and 22nd floors, including a pair of outdoor terraces on the 22nd level. Given the site’s transit connectivity — situated between King and Union TTC subway stations and close to GO transit lines — and its Yonge Street location, there are no vehicular parking spaces proposed in the development; however, 284 bicycle spaces will be provided on two below-grade levels, promoting a more sustainable mode of transit for residents.

Heritage plays a prominent role in the proposal with an emphasis on the relationship between the new tower and its heritage base. Currently existing on the site are two heritage buildings: 49 Yonge, a 4-storey office building with a ground-floor restaurant constructed in 1875; and 51 Yonge, a 4-storey office building constructed in 1847. Focusing first and foremost on preservation, protection, and enhancement of the heritage, the team is committed to redefining a landmark property that is recognizable both on the ground and in the skyline. Both buildings’ exterior elements will be retained as part of the development, and both have informed the design of the new tower rising above.

49-51 Yonge Street, SmartCentres REIT, architects–Alliance, SmartLiving, GBCA Architects, Toronto
Context map, image courtesy of SmartLiving (Mapview data from Google LLC).

Working with heritage specialist GBCA Architects, the heritage exteriors will be carefully restored in situ, with the limestone cladding, decorative metal, and intricate woodwork cleaned, repaired, and replicated where necessary. The mansard roofs will be preserved, with the existing asphalt shingles replaced with more historically accurate slate shingles. Minor alterations are proposed to increase accessibility at the building entrances, and most notably on the east facade, where a one-metre widening of the laneway is proposed to facilitate safe access for loading and garbage. On the interiors, though, it is still early in the design process, SmartLiving has indicated their intent to restore and preserve the remaining heritage features, including the pressed tin ceilings, columns, and plaster and stone moldings.

architectsAlliance have taken the approach that while the design of the new tower should be contemporary and stand out, it should also be informed and influenced by the heritage structures at its base. The one proposed alteration to the heritage exterior, on the ground level along the east laneway, will be to reimagine the entrance, finished in a different material that will contrast yet complement the limestone facades. “It’s a challenge to resolve some of the complexities of a site like this one, balancing the character and beauty of the [heritage buildings] with the client’s need to achieve the occupancy of the site,” states Blair Robinson, Project Architect at architects—Alliance. “As architects, we always feel like we’re in a conversation with our predecessors.”

49-51 Yonge Street, SmartCentres REIT, architects–Alliance, SmartLiving, GBCA Architects, TorontoFrontage along Wellington Street, image courtesy of SmartLiving.

The massing and form of the proposed tower is intended to spotlight the heritage buildings. The fifth and sixth floors, just above the heritage structures’ roofs, are set back from the property line and are clad with transparent glass to allow the existing heritage exteriors to maintain their presence and character at street level. Eleven metres above that, the tower projects back out above the heritage buildings and is finished with glass and bronze-coloured panels, with the massing punctuated by setbacks at the 22nd floor where the outdoor terraces are located.

49-51 Yonge Street, SmartCentres REIT, architects–Alliance, SmartLiving, GBCA Architects, TorontoView of 49-51 Yonge looking northeast, image courtesy of SmartLiving.

49-51 Yonge is located directly next to another 60-storey tower proposal at 55 Yonge. SmartLiving has initiated discussions with the development team next door to coordinate the design of the two towers for an integrated redeveloped block that enhances the neighbourhood, preserves the heritage components at street level, and adds striking new architecture to Toronto’s maturing skyline. 

SmartCentres REIT Proposes Transformation at South Hill in Richmond Hill

Source: UrbanToronto

The Greater Toronto Area is transforming at a tremendous rate, with about a hundred thousand people looking for new homes in the area every year. Over the last few years, SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust, one of Canada’s largest fully integrated REITs with approximately $10 billion in assets, has become a leader in the intensification of under-utilized land into much-needed housing and new communities across the country, their work in the heart of Vaughan a well-known example of city-building that the company is engaging in.

Acting on behalf of the property owners, SmartCentres REIT is preparing a gradual transformation of the lands of the South Hill Shopping Centre in the heart of Richmond Hill. SmartCentres currently manages the property on Yonge Street at 16th Avenue and has been engaged to lead the development application and approvals process. Located in an area considered by the City of Richmond Hill to be an essential growth node along the Yonge Street Regional Transit Corridor, it is SmartCentres’ intention to “set the standard for the future of Richmond Hill’s Key Development Area” here.

South Hill, Richmond Hill, designed by Sweeny &Co Architects for SmartCentres REITContext map indicating the Phase 1 site, with current and potential transport options highlighted, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

At South Hill, SmartCentres is master planning the site for the future; while it is easily accessible from Highway 404 and the 407, the site is being designed as a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, with potential for future rapid transit access. York Region Transit inaugurated a new VIVA Rapidway along this stretch of Yonge Street in December, bringing dedicated bus lanes and faster service to the area, effectively bringing Finch subway station closer. When the future extension of the Yonge subway to Richmond Hill Town Centre opens, rides to the downtown core will get that much faster again.

With over a dozen retailers operating within the shopping centre, SmartCentres identified part of the property for a first phase transformation to a more urban form. Growing from a five-storey podium, towers would rise to 42 and 45 storeys tall. While it is early enough in the process that a final design is still to be reached, the massing concept by Sweeny &Co Architects has the towers offset from each other so that residents’ access to sunlight and views will be maximized.

South Hill, Richmond Hill, designed by Sweeny &Co Architects for SmartCentres REITLooking northeast to South Hill, Phase 1, image provided by SmartCentres REIT

Retail will be incorporated into the ground floor of the podium of Phase 1, while amenities for the residents will be provided on the fifth floor, both indoors and atop the podium to take advantage of a landscaped rooftop terrace.

As detailed planning continues, SmartCentres is anticipating approvals for Phase 1 in 2022 with a construction start in 2023.

South Hill, Richmond Hill, designed by Sweeny &Co Architects for SmartCentres REITLooking north along Yonge Street beside South Hill, image provided by SmartCentres REIT

Phase 1 is the beginning of a long-term master-planned redevelopment of the shopping centre that aims to provide a mix of uses including diversified residential and retail, all benefiting from connectivity–both in terms of walkability and transit—with SmartCentres looking to create an inviting community and enhance the lives of those who live there.

South Hill, Richmond Hill, designed by Sweeny &Co Architects for SmartCentres REITLooking southeast across Yonge Street to South Hill, Phase 1, image provided by SmartCentres REIT

Smart Centres Planning Mixed-Use Community for Oakville’s Uptown Core

Source: UrbanToronto

As Oakville grows, its new Uptown Core at Dundas Street and Trafalgar Road is set to become a multi-use centre. SmartCentres REIT’s 52-acre site along Oak Park Boulevard aims to become a new urban heart of the community through a multi-phased, master-planned redevelopment. Capitalizing on the area’s existing street grid, transit accessibility, and nearby arterial roads and highways, the first phase of this new community is a pair of 28- and 29-storey towers designed by Turner Fleischer Architects to be developed by SmartCentres’ residential sub-brand, SmartLiving, on behalf of Metrontario and the Penguin Group of Companies.

SmartCentres Oakville North, designed by Turner Fleischer Architects for SmartCentres REIT
Context map, SmartCentres Oakville North, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

As part of SmartCentres’ evolution “From Shopping Centres to City Centres”, the plan for SmartCentres Oakville North will bring a mix of higher-density residential and fine-grained neighbourhood retail to the existing open-air shopping centre. Oakville’s Uptown Core is already primed for walkability with a radial road network framed by mid-rises and townhomes beyond. Those existing buildings will become the transition between the higher densities planned for the site and planned and under-construction high-rises to the north. SmartCentres intends to build on the community’s existing walkability enhancing the existing and planned transit connections to attract the types of residents who prefer a condominium, transit-connected, urban lifestyle.

SmartCentres Oakville North, designed by Turner Fleischer Architects for SmartCentres REITSmartCentres Oakville North, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

SmartCentres Oakville North’s first phase towers feature a design that draws its inspiration heavily from the area’s heritage, in the late 19th century a rural community known as “the Strawberry Capital of the Canadas.” A farmer named John Cross, among those who introduced strawberry growing here, designed and manufactured wooden veneer strawberry baskets, the woven baskets now inspiring the tower design.

SmartCentres and Turner Fleischer are intentionally proposing some key differences design-wise here from what one would find in a market like Downtown Toronto, with a more intimately scaled massing to enhance the condos’ approachability from street level, providing more than double the typical separation distance between towers to maximize privacy and ‘breathability’ for residents. Residents with south-facing suites on upper floors will have a view of Lake Ontario from their windows and balconies.

SmartCentres Oakville North, designed by Turner Fleischer Architects for SmartCentres REITBasket weave influenced design at SmartCentres Oakville North, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

A combined 585 residential units are proposed in the first phase of the community, including eight townhouse units at grade. Residents will enjoy 11,900 ft² of indoor amenities, plus another 13,000 ft² of outdoor amenity space. Plus with the Town of Oakville having designated the urbanization of Oak Park Boulevard to achieve the goals of walkability and an enhanced public realm through the delivery of animating and retail uses. To this effect, 6,350 ft² of street-fronting retail space will face the sidewalks, providing an improved pedestrian environment for those living here.

Transit plays a key role in the first phase as well as the wider community master plan: the site is located at the nexus of two transit corridors, with infrastructure enhancements coming that include dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines on Trafalgar Road. Residents of the community will be able to catch the BRT at the Oak Park/Trafalgar stop, getting easy access to destinations such as Oakville GO Station.

For drivers, SmartCentres Oakville North community will be well situated with highways 407, and the QEW/403 virtually equidistant to the north and south of the site respectively, allowing for direct garage-to-garage commutes around the region. Highway 403 is located just to the east, with access off of Dundas. Average travel times of 30-40 minutes to Union Station in Downtown Toronto, 20-30 minutes to Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, and around 30 minutes to Downtown Hamilton.

SmartCentres Proposes Multimodal Transit-Oriented Development for Eglinton West

Source: UrbanToronto

New rapid transit—both planned and under construction across Toronto—promises increased connectivity for many neighbourhoods, and creates opportunities for TOD—Transit Oriented Development—in the process. The future Crosstown LRT has created several TOD opportunities along the less-densely built-out Eglinton East, though development along the Crosstown’s Eglinton Avenue West stretch has been limited to more constrained sites, with few TOD opportunities west of Yonge. 2400 Eglinton Avenue West is one such site to have its development potential enhanced by future improved connectivity. Developer SmartCentres REIT recently applied for rezoning to bring a new 35-storey tower to the site, part of a wider planned community known as SmartCentres Eglinton West. 

Located immediately adjacent to Caledonia station on the Crosstown LRT, the site is situated to take full advantage of multi-modal transit infrastructure. By the time residents move in, the new Metrolinx Caledonia station will be served by TTC buses and the GO Train servicing the Barrie GO Line with direct access to Union from Caledonia. A short ride to the west along the Crosstown will also allow residents to transfer to the Union Pearson Express, direct access to the Airport. The opening of the Crosstown will also improve travel times while making streets more pleasant for pedestrians too.

SmartCentres Eglinton West, Toronto, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsAerial context map looking northeast over SmartCentres Eglinton West, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

When in operation, the Crosstown LRT trains will make the trip between Keele and Eglinton West stations in just six minutes. By boarding at Caledonia station, residents of SmartCentres Eglinton West will be able to make it to the TTC’s Line 1 University subway in five minutes, and the Yonge subway in just five more.

Set to rise to 110.8 metres from a seven-storey, L-shaped podium, the planned Turner Fleischer Architects-designed project is being developed by SmartLiving, SmartCentres’ residential sub-brand. The 29,683 m² building will be predominantly residential in use with 400 units in a range of layouts, to be supported by 2,460 m² of amenity space, while the ground floor along Eglinton will be animated by 715 m² of new street-fronting retail space.

SmartCentres Eglinton West, Toronto, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsLooking northwest to SmartCentres Eglinton West, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

Design-wise, the podium features deviations from the traditional condominium tower massing that has been incorporated in response to the surrounding conditions. The east podium facade features a prominent curve, mirroring the former path of the Beltline here, while another curve to the south hugs the alignment of Eglinton Avenue West. Other more subtle gestures include decorative curved detailing on the tower facades and mechanical penthouse levels, with this horizontal banding to be executed using perforated metal finishes.

SmartCentres Eglinton West, Toronto, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsRetail at SmartCentres Eglinton West, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

With 360 long-term and 40 short-term bicycle parking spaces in the building, residents will be able to take good advantage of the nearby Beltline Trail—approximately 250 metres from the site—offering cyclists and pedestrians a multi-use path extending to the Don Valley.

Amenity spaces will include a party room, gym, guest suite, and a landscaped rooftop deck, and suites will cater to a wide demographic. Ranging in size from 600 to over 1,000 ft², in one, two, and three-bedroom layouts, of the total 400 units, 160 are planned to be multi-bedroom suites. With suite sizes, pricing, and amenity offerings being competitive with Downtown condominiums, and with abundant transit options providing quick commutes around the city and to the surrounding region, the project is expected to attract residents ranging from university students to young professionals to new families looking for livability at a more affordable price point.

The proposal marks the first phase of a planned Transit Oriented Community with adjacent access to both LRT and GO Transit stops. One of the first major developments on Eglinton West in a generation, the project also has the potential to shape future transit-oriented developments in sites unlocked by new transit expansion.

Barrie Council Approves First Step Towards Smart Centres and Greenwin’s Tranformative Complex

Source: UrbanToronto

A transformative multi-tower development is one step closer to its realization on Barrie’s waterfront. Developed by the team of SmartCentres REIT, under their SmartLiving banner, along with one of Canada’s largest privately-owned, full-service property management and development firms Greenwin Corp., the planned 7.8-acre Barrie Lakeshore Developments project on the edge of Kempenfelt Bay has been granted approval for its rezoning and Official Plan applications. Through the review process following the initial submission, SmartCentres and Greenwin have made a number of design changes in response to Staff and community comments.  

Following the initial submission, the developers and their design team led by Turner Fleischer Architects worked with Barrie staff to revise the original proposal’s scale, massing, and tower separation. The dialogue between staff and the project team informed a refined Site Plan Approval (SPA) application, which was submitted in December, 2020, and incorporated a number of design changes and refinements. The rezoning and official plan were approved by council at a virtual meeting earlier this year, meanwhile, the SPA application advances for the project’s first phase 25-storey tower.

This transformative complex includes four towers, at 25, 35, 38, and 41 storeys, with heights ranging from 84 to 139 metres. While the towers would be known for their skyline presence, the goal for this site within the emerging Urban Growth Centre of the City, follows SmartCentres design principles to create a complete community and fulfill the growing rental demand within the area. This is reflected in the proposed mix of uses that will include purpose-built rental units, hotel suites and retail, anchored to an enhanced public realm by mixed-use bases designed to animate their street frontages and connection to natural spaces.

SmartCentres REIT, Barrie Lakeshore Developments, Greenwin, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsSite of Barrie Lakeshore Developments, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

Creating a foothold for this complex, the first phase of Barrie Lakeshore Developments is a 25-storey, mixed-use tower to be built at the east end of the site, occupying a 9,344 m² footprint fronting Lakeshore Drive. The 29,213 m² building is to contain 9,246 m² of hotel space within its podium levels, and 19,966 m² of residential space above. The 150-suite hotel is to occupy the first seven floors. Above, the residential component is to include 230 purpose-built rental units in a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom layouts. 73% of the units are planned with two or three bedrooms, creating new opportunities for high-rise family living in Barrie. Livability was front of mind when unit sizes and layouts were designed, including a substantial infusion of purpose-built rental units that will be managed long-term by the project’s developers.

SmartCentres REIT, Barrie Lakeshore Developments, Greenwin, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsLooking northeast to Barrie Lakeshore Developments, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT/Greenwin

Revisions to the first plan’s architectural design include changes the materiality of the building, such as the inclusion of a lighter palette masonry at the base. Renderings included in the resubmission materials depict curtainwall glazing, while other materials are still being decided on, such as the choice between brick-patterned precast or metal panels. Clear float vision glazing is planned for the towers’ main exterior envelopes, while perforated metal balcony guards are being considered to complete the aesthetic. 

SmartCentres REIT, Barrie Lakeshore Developments, Greenwin, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsLooking northwest to Barrie Lakeshore Developments, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT/Greenwin

Special attention to detail has also been paid to the public realm design in the approved resubmission. A restaurant space has been introduced fronting public realm at the south end of the podium and a prominent colonnade supported by V-shaped columns has been added to create a striking street presence along the site’s Lakeshore Drive frontage.

SmartCentres REIT, Barrie Lakeshore Developments, Greenwin, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsLooking southwest to Barrie Lakeshore Developments, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT/Greenwin

Adding to the community’s streetscape contributions, the plan creates new pedestrian and cycling infrastructure around Bunker’s Creek to the south of the site, with pedestrian paths that connect Lakeshore and Checkley and create new waterfront access through the development lands. These public elements are an important step in giving both complex residents and the community at large an improved relationship with the existing natural wetland and creek delta adjacent to the site.

SmartCentres REIT, Barrie Lakeshore Developments, Greenwin, Turner Fleischer ArchitectsLooking north to Barrie Lakeshore Developments, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

The plan to create a major new contribution to reinvigorate Barrie’s waterfront comes over a quarter-century after SmartCentres’ development of their first Walmart in Canada, also located in Barrie, part of the brand’s initial 1994 push into the Canadian market. With roots in big-box retail and now well-established in the development of urban, mixed-use projects, this is an evolution that SmartCentres boils down to the simple and effective statement “From Shopping Centres to City Centres.”

The developers are working with Staff to finalize Site Plan Approvals for the first tower and hope to break ground later this year. 

SmartCentres and Greenwin Plan Striking Rental Tower in Davisville Village

Source: UrbanToronto

A proposal recently submitted to the City of Toronto seeks Zoning By-law Amendment and Site Plan Approval to bring a purpose-built rental tower and a new public park to 185 Balliol Street, a short walk east of Davisville subway station in Midtown’s Davisville Village area. The proposed development, a joint venture between SmartLiving by SmartCentres REIT with seasoned rental operator Greenwin, will rise 35 storeys from the current site of a private tennis club and two-storey retail and residential building occupying a plot at the southwest corner of Balliol and Pailton Crescent. 

185 Balliol Street, SmartCentres REIT, Greenwin, Diamond Schmitt Architects, TorontoSite of the proposed development, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

Before embarking on the complex planning of the building, the developers held an invited design competition, selecting Diamond Schmitt Architects’ design for its balance of sensibility and striking aesthetics. The 115.8 metre-tall building joins primarily 20th-century modern rental towers that house the majority of the Davisville Village population, but exterior of sculpted, light-catching frames set the building apart as a standout amongst its neighbours.

The proposed plan includes a significant public realm contribution along the east edge of the site, designed by landscape architects Janet Rosenberg & Studio. This new 1,394 m² open space is proposed along Pailton Crescent, extending from Balliol Street in the north to the south lot line. A 477 m² share of the space could be dedicated to the City of Toronto as public parkland, while the remaining 917 m² would operate as a POPS (Privately-Owned, Publicly-accessible Space). Complementing the east side park and POPS, another public realm enhancement is proposed along the west and south ends of the site in the form of an L-shaped mid-block connection. 

185 Balliol Street, SmartCentres REIT, Greenwin, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Toronto185 Balliol Street, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

A Gross Floor Area of 32,395 m² is almost entirely dedicated to much-needed rental housing stock, while a 178 m² retail space is planned at ground level. In the tower and podium are 447 new rental units and 2 rental replacement units.

Architectural plans offer more insight into the exterior. Designed with thermal performance in mind to increase energy efficiency, the unique identity of the textured exterior provides plenty of natural light to suites while minimizing the large expanses of glazing known for their impact on energy loss. Projecting metal panels frame slender windows and perforated aluminum louvres, while balconies are inset. At street level, two-storey grade-related units and retail space will be finished in a mix of clear curtainwall glazing and solid limestone panels.

185 Balliol Street, SmartCentres REIT, Greenwin, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Toronto185 Balliol Street, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT

A two-level underground garage will house 113 vehicular parking spaces, 90 of them for residents and 23 for visitors. With the site’s close proximity to Davisville subway station, it is expected mosts of the residents’ commutes will be accommodated by rapid transit. A total of 456 bicycle parking spaces, located on the P1 level and ground floor, will make cycling easy for residents too. Residents will also have access to 898 m² of indoor and 505 m² of outdoor amenity spaces.