Cadillac Fairview starting from scratch on 'densification project in the suburbs'

While Oxford Properties is jamming a massive development into the heart of Canada's largest city, Cadillac Fairview is in the enviable position of working on a nearly pristine site centred on the Buttonville airport north of Toronto.
A “densification project in the suburbs” in the words of Aird and Berlis’ Michael Brooks, the development on the 170-acre site of the former Buttonville airport presents Cadillac with a nearly blank slate.
“It is the hole in the donut,” said Wayne Barwise, Cadillac's executive vice-president of development. “The only reason that it hasn’t been developed, of course, is because it has been operating as an airport for the last 50 years.”
The Cadillac executive said the real estate company is excited about the opportunity Buttonville presents to do development right.
“We certainly would not have undertaken this if it were just another sort of single-purpose suburban development. I think the future for that sort of development is limited.”
Cadillac intends to make the Buttonville site the home of 10 million sq. ft. of a “truly integrated mixed use complex” of retail, residential and office buildings. Major office tenants are demanding spaces that will be a draw for their employees, which translates into a place that they can get to using transit and has the essential mix of amenities to shop, eat and play during lunch or after the work day.
(Related: Sky’s the limit for Cadillac’s Buttonville Development, Property Biz Canada, February 27, 2013)
Cadillac’s goal of creating a downtown urban environment in a suburban setting is gaining some interest, Barwise said.
“We are getting lots of calls from major companies who say, 'When are you going to be able to put proposals in front of us in order to build a new head office or satellite office for our company?’”

Proposed site plan for the former Buttonville airport land
Cleaning up the Lever site
Developer First Gulf Corporation purchased the 30-acre Lever Brothers site at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway just last year and has since drawn up ambitious plans to redevelop the former home of the soap factory and surrounding city-owned lands.
“We are working on a master plan right now,” said David Gerofsky, president and chief operating officer of Great Gulf and chief executive of First Gulf Corp.
“We are planning a development that would be analogous to Canary Wharf, except we would like to skip the bankruptcy part.”
The 10-million sq. ft. development would “be overwhelmingly an office development” with supporting uses. No condos will be part of the site.
Gerofsky, whose company has its roots in home building and is currently working on the 75-storey mixed-use One Bloor tower at Bloor and Yonge Streets, sees an office-starved future ahead for Toronto despite the current building boom.

“We believe that the city of the GTA is going to be experiencing a land shortage for office space over the next 10 or 20 years. It is projected that we will need a 100-million sq. ft. of office space over the long term and those sites really don’t exist to any great degree to satisfy those needs in the city right now.”
Great Gulf’s plan includes hefty participation with transit authorities. The “major master plan office community” would include a Go Transit station at the site which would include a light rail transit stop and see the expansion of Broadview Avenue. south from its current terminus at Eastern Avenuedown to the portlands.
As well, the development would bridge the Don Valley river and highway to connect westward with the residential development currently underway for the Pan Am Games.
“We are going to the U.K. in a couple of weeks and are very much patterning this on a Canary Wharf-type development,” he said.
“As anyone who is familiar with that development it was developed by Canadians, by Torontonians, and success really happened when proper public transit was introduced to the site and that is the same focus that we have here.”
Read part 1 of this article: Mixed-use super projects on the way for GTA

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