A “bold and transformative” proposed mixed-use development in the form of an unabashedly parametric 66-story tower has been generating significant attention in the Toronto real estate sphere in recent days.
The tower, 55 Yonge, which would rise in the heart of downtown Toronto’s Financial District at the southeast corner of Yonge and Colborne streets, is a collaboration between developer H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (H&R REIT) with multidisciplinary architecture studio PARTISANS, and BDP Quadrangle, the Toronto-headquartered North American arm of U.K.-based global firm BDP. (Already an established presence in Toronto’s multi-unit residential market, Quadrangle joined BDP in 2019.)
While 55 Yonge is in the early pre-construction phases, the proudly “100 percent Torontonian” team has launched a dedicated project website complete with attention-grabbing renderings of the “landmark commercial-residential building” to solicit feedback, field questions, and gauge early public reactions to the redevelopment scheme. According to the latest information on the project website, H&R REIT has yet to submit a rezoning application with the city but that will happen at some point this month. A pre-application meeting with the city was held in November and rezoning and site plan approval is expected to land in the fourth quarter of next year.
The building site, in close proximity to both Union Station and the King subway station, is currently home to a pair of mid-rise office buildings both owned by H&R REIT. Per UrbanToronto, the existing building at 55 Yonge was completed in 1958 and designed by Peter Dickinson, a storied British-Canadian modernist whose other works include the CIBC Tower in Montreal and Toronto’s iconic Meridian Hall, formerly the O’Keefe Centre. The extant tower, along with 53 Yonge, will be demolished.
Although plans could change as the project moves along, the bold high-rise that will replace the buildings is set to include 13 stories of podium-level office space totaling about 180,000 square feet. Topping the podium would be a residential tower with 482 units—a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes that could either be condos, rentals, or potentially a combination of both. (The project profile on the H&R REIT website makes mention of “purpose-built rental apartments” although the newly launched special project website states that a firm decision has yet to be made.)
Roughly 140,000 square feet of retail space, along with separate lobby areas, would populate the first two levels of the building and beneath that would sit two levels of subterranean parking.
As the developers elaborate:
“The ten floors of office space are designed for the contemporary worker in a post-Covid world, supported by efficient layouts and a hospitality-driven environment at the street level. Both office and residential tenants will be able to access wellness amenities between the residential and office levels, including a spacious open-air terrace, a pool, a fully equipped gym and health-oriented programming, as well as boardrooms, informal meeting areas and services to support the offices below.”
As stressed by the project website, 55 Yonge is in the very early stages and steps to gain approval will, as they do, take time. The tower’s outré conceptual design with heavy shades of ZHA could also very well be tweaked in the process. In the meantime, Torontonians are, as mentioned, encouraged to chime in with their thoughts.