FROM CONCERT TO CONDO
All the kool kids who once lined up for the music here might just find themselves buying into a whole new show
The five-minute stroll east along Queens Quay from Yonge Street to Lower Jarvis is a lonely one, with nothing much to show for itself except a mid-rise glass condo under construction, LCBO and Loblaw stores, and the giant, unsightly but sweet-smelling Redpath Sugar factory. It feels almost desolate during the day, and even more so at night.
It wasn’t always that way. The east side of Lower Jarvis was a truly rockin’ place for almost two decades as generations of music lovers flocked to impresario Charles Khabouth’s popular Guvernment (formerly RPM) and Kool Haus nightclubs at dusk for dance parties and concerts featuring such diverse acts as Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber, Deadmau5 and Cannibal Corpse. Hypnotic beats pulsated into the wee hours. Then everyone headed back to the suburbs, the streets abandoned once more until the clubs’ next crazy gig. Daytime got a little livelier in late 2010 when Corus Entertainment moved 1,200 employees into its new Corus Quay headquarters, with many seen catching the rays on Sugar Beach’s manmade sandy shores during lunchtime.
But things are set to get a whole lot busier in 2018 as doors open at Daniels Corp.’s latest venture: a “live-workplay-learn-create” community combining office, retail, academic, cultural and residential components, as well as a pedestrian mall called The Yard and a “beachfront” dubbed Sugar Beach North. Situated on the site where the Guvernment once stood, the 1.32-million-square-foot development promises to infuse some of that much-needed nighttime energy of days gone by into daylight hours of the future.
Daniels Waterfront — City of the Arts, as it’s called, is one of the first private-sector developments at Waterfront Toronto’s East Bayfront, and the very first to be built on privately owned land at a projected total cost of $700-million. It expects it to attract 7,300 people during the day, from George Brown College and OCAD University students to office workers, artists, musicians, shoppers and those seeking a bite to eat. Daniels, Artscape and entertainment law firm Taylor Klein Oballa will be moving their offices to the site.
More than 2,500 will stay more than a day, though, as two residential condominium towers totalling 900 suites are set to rise.
“There will be three times more people working and studying than living here,” international urban designer Ken Greenberg said at a press conference last week. “We always talk about wanting to make 24/7 neighbourhoods. Here we are truly coming close.”
The first residential tower planned, dubbed The Lighthouse, will soar 48 storeys with 516 suites ranging from 347-square-foot studios to 790-sq.-f t. two-bedrooms (penthouses on the top two floors will be larger and have higher-end finishes) and starting at $279,900. For $60 per month, residents will get access to Waterfront Toronto’s 500 megabit-per-second (Mbps) unlimited, symmetrical ultrabroadband, ultra-fibre-optic network within their suites as well as neighbourhood-wide Wi-Fi, IPTV and a community portal. Sales begin this fall and occupancy slated for 2018. For $500, interested buyers can join the so-called “Inner Circle” to get first dibs on suite selection.
Given that it overlooks Lake Ontario and downtown, the condo tower has been designed to maximize water and city views. Dominic Tompa, broker of record at Daniels’ in-house sales company City Life Realty, explains that the podium (equivalent to eight residential floors) will be designated postsecondary academic space. The ninth floor will house a wide range of amenities including a fitness centre, art and music studio, home theatre, gardening prep studio and outdoor tennis court. (The 14th floor will have a landscaped terrace, cocktail pool, barbecues, catering kitchen, private dining room, lounge and party room.)
Residences start on the 10th floor, for good reason: “None of the suites will be looking onto the highway,” Mr. Tompa says, referring to the busy Gardiner Expressway. “Whether you’re looking north or south, you still get great views.”
The architects and interior designers also drew inspiration from the project’s locale as well as the arts and cultural community envisioned by Daniels.
“We wanted [the tower] to be this really confident presence on the waterfront that operates like a beacon at the scale of the city,” says Pina Petricone of Giannone Petricone Associate. “We tried to do it in a really kind of minimal way.”
For example, the suites’ balconies feature fritted glass (Ms. Petricone describes it as “inlaid ceramic within the glass”) to emulate the water below and create different effects as the weather changes and the sun shifts.
“Even when you’re driving along the Gardiner or coming from the city, the idea is that you see this ripple as a pattern that is kind of ephemeral,” she says. “It changes depending on the angle, on the oblique view when you’re looking back at the tower. The tower’s design is very simple, but the fritted glass creates this water ripple pattern. It almost defies the rectangular nature of the tower itself with just the simple pattern idea on the glass.”
Anna Simone, principal of interior design firm Cecconi Simone, calls The Lighthouse’s architecture “a direct reflection of the talent” that will be living and working within the tower and the surrounding buildings. She says the model suites will have inspirational messages on the ceiling that speak to creative spirit and how art shapes the way people live.
“This building is obviously being designed with the artist, the musician, with the creative essence of what lies within many of us, and they want to celebrate that to its core,” she says. “So when we’re designing the interiors, from the sales centre right to the amenity area, we are bringing artists studios where people will be painting still life, or there will be jamming rooms where people can go in and practice with a band or solo, and recording studios.”
She adds that an experimental kitchen ideal for visiting chefs and gardening plots for planting herbs and flowers give tenants “all the fresh herbs and juices that become a way of life of celebrating the creative spirit.” The colour palette throughout the tower will be soft whites, creams and robin-egg blues and “anything that evokes that feeling of water and tranquility.”
With crews demolishing the Guvernment and condo registration now open, it’s refreshing to have new buzz along that lonely stretch of Queens Quay, where the Bay Street downtown bus shares the wide road with cars, cyclists and the occasional pedestrian. Though there’s no word on whether Light Rail Transit (LRT) might turn up to move the masses expected in a few years, Mayor John Tory is keen to see the area come to life.
“[This project] will send a message to the rest of the world about what Toronto is,” he told the gathering before donning a hard hat at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Toronto is a place that gets the fact that education is related to the arts, is related to business, to innovation, and that it all fits together in packaging a city that is special …. I hope [this project] is as good in reality as it seems in concept. I’m excited about this.”