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. 

Have an artistic flair? Then you should check out the Toronto events on this week

Source: The Hamilton Spectator

Ready to get out and be creative? If so, you’re in the right place as Toronto is the only city in the country designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. With the arts on our minds, here’s a roundup of the happenings around town

Immersive Van Gogh exhibition

It starts right on our home turf, with the ImmIt starts right on our home turf, with the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition inside the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge St. Continuing the trend of immersive digital art experiences, the exhibit delivers one of the greatest artists of all time through art, light, sound, movement and imagination. Opens July 29. To buy tickets, visit

imagineNATIVE at the DriveInTO

Enjoy a free outdoor film at Ontario Place on July 27 at 9:30 p.m. As part of DriveInTO, imagineNATIVE will screen Falls Around Her, a dramatic feature that follows a world-famous Anishinaabe musician Tantoo Cardinal returning home. The film was the opening gala film at the 2018 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival where it won the Air Canada Audience Choice Award.

ROM reopens

The ROM is now welcoming back visitors, with safety measures like timed-ticketing and wider spacing for physical distancing in place. Current featured exhibitions include The Cloth that Changed the World: India’s Painted and Printed Cottons, and Great Whales: Up Close and Personal. To get tickets, visit

ArtWalk at SmartVMC

It’s a summer-long art celebration in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. ArtWalk features massive art murals, free drive-in movies and a food truck market. For more information, visit

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Your mission awaits at the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Running from July 29 until September inside Yorkdale Mall, the experience boasts 25,000 sq. ft. of fun for all ages. ​​Interact with sets, props and costumes, uncover Avenger backstories and test your worthiness lifting Thor’s Hammer. Visit for ticket information.

Walking tours at Toronto History Museums

Select City of Toronto Museums are now offering exterior walking tours through HistoricTO. Join Alan Colley from Toronto Aboriginal Eco Tours every Sunday from now until the end of August at Todmorden Mills, where you can learn, in a meaningful way, Indigenous cultural teachings. Visit Toronto History Museums to plan your visit.

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.

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.

13-Storey Retirement Residence Proposed on Wilson Near Bathurst

Source: UrbanToronto

An application submitted to the City of Toronto this month seeks rezoning to permit a 13-storey retirement residence at 381 Wilson Avenue, just west of Bathurst Street in the Clanton Park neighbourhood. Plans for the site, adjacent to a Highway 401 off-ramp, and vacant since 2004, come from developer SmartCentres REIT for a Global Architect Inc.-designed building that would house retirement units and provide 75 to 100 healthcare related jobs.

381 Wilson Avenue, Toronto, SmartCentres REIT, Global ArchitectLooking southeast over site of proposal, image via submission to City of Toronto

The 21,630.7 m²/232,831 ft² U-shaped building is planned entirely with residential uses, set to contain 278 retirement units in a mix of 66 studios, 157 one-bedroom and one-bedroom+dens, and 55 two-bedroom plans. Units include 34 designed for memory care, 34 assisted living units, 147 independent supportive living units, and 63 seniors apartments.

381 Wilson Avenue, Toronto, SmartCentres REIT, Global ArchitectAerial view looking northeast over 381 Wilson Avenue, image via submission to City of Toronto

A two-level underground garage would provide 153 parking spaces, 140 for residents and 13 for visitors. 40 bicycle parking spaces are also proposed, including 20 short-term visitor spaces at grade, as well as 20 long-term spaces for residents to be housed on the P1 level. Access to the garage would be provided via an internal roadway and ramp at the south end of the site.

381 Wilson Avenue, Toronto, SmartCentres REIT, Global ArchitectNorth elevation, 381 Wilson Avenue, image via submission to City of Toronto

The project is situated a few blocks east of a growing development node surrounding Wilson subway station, where several buildings have already been completed and many more mid-rise and lower high-rise projects are in various stages of planning and construction. While the 381 Wilson site is located over 450 metres east of the easternmost of these developments, proximity to these projects and the Bathurst and Wilson intersection to the east are being cited as justifications for the proposed density in a planning report prepared by MHBC Planning.