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First Capital, CPPIB to develop Toronto Christie property

First Capital Realty Inc. has submitted an official plan application to the City of Toronto for i...

IMAGE: First Capital Realty and CPPIB have submitted a development plan for a 28-acre property at Lakeshore and Park Lawn roads in downtown Toronto. The site is the former Christie cookie factory property. (Courtesy First Capital)

First Capital Realty and CPPIB have submitted a development plan for a 28-acre property at Lakeshore and Park Lawn in downtown Toronto. The site is the former Christie cookie factory property. (Courtesy First Capital)

First Capital Realty Inc. has submitted an official plan application to the City of Toronto for its 28-acre property at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Park Lawn Road, the so-called Christie property.

First Capital (FCR-T) and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) each contributed $26 million to acquire the former site of a Christie cookie-making facility from Mondelez Canada in 2016.

The proposal includes one million square feet of retail, restaurants, neighbourhood services, office and commercial opportunities, and six million square feet of residential space, with a range of housing options. It is anticipated business at the development will employ up to 3,500.

The proposal also includes a new GO station, on-site Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus and streetcar service, and a significant investment in road, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Discussions are ongoing with Metrolinx regarding the proposed GO station.

“Important catalyst” for neighbourhood

“The redevelopment of 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. W. is an important catalyst to transforming Humber Bay Shores from super-congested to super-connected,” First Capital senior vice-president of development Jodi Shpigel told RENX in an exchange of emails.

“The creation of the much-needed new GO/TTC transit hub will unlock the mobility potential of the community and connect it to the rest of the city and region with reliable and timely access for generations to come.”

More than 25 per cent of the site has been dedicated to interconnected parks and open community-gathering areas. This will include a public park, three large squares, a covered galleria and a series of groves, enlarged sidewalks, lanes and mews.

The well-known Christie-branded water tower will be preserved as a local landmark and a symbol of the community’s industrial roots. It will be relocated to a prominent location on the site.

Shpigel said the development will also “set a benchmark for sustainability and will inspire new master-plans in Canada and around the world that are resilient to a changing climate.”

The proposal supports the City of Toronto’s resilience strategy and contributes to its TransformTO climate action strategy.

First Capital is the managing partner for all aspects of the project — including development, leasing and property management — on behalf of the partnership.

“The site benefits from high visibility from Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and the Lakeshore GO Transit line, which are both located on the site’s northern boundary,” Shpigel said. “The large size of the property and its strategic location make it truly unique within the City of Toronto.

“It is ideally suited for a mixed-use redevelopment with a significant retail component to service the surrounding neighbourhoods, where substantial high-density residential properties continue to emerge, creating a dynamic and vibrant new community near Toronto’s western waterfront.”

3.5 acres designated employment lands

First Capital and CPPIB held discussions with City of Toronto staff to determine the most suitable uses for the site. Earlier this year, city council and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal approved the conversion of 24.5 acres of the site into a regeneration area, with the remaining 3.5 acres retained as employment lands.

United Kingdom-based Allies and Morrison has been retained as the master-plan architect for the project.

The proposal was prepared after consultations with various stakeholders, including nearby residents of Humber Bay Shores at two community meetings. More engagement initiatives are scheduled for the coming months.

The goal of the First Capital Realty project team is to continue to build and nurture this relationship, with the community input as an important driver in the transformation of this geographically unique area of the city from an industrial past to an urban, complete community,” said Shpigel.

“This input will also inform investment decisions that will attract future customers, retailers, buyers and tenants to this new mixed-use development.”

The next step after the official plan application submission is to file a zoning bylaw amendment application, which is targeted for the third quarter of 2020. Construction will begin in the next several years, according to Shpigel.

The neighbourhood in which the property is located has experienced a 65 per cent increase in population since 2011 and above-average growth is expected over the foreseeable future.

It’s also experienced above-average growth in household income; there are approximately 270,000 residents within five kilometres of the development site, with an estimated average household income of $114,000.

First Capital and CPPIB

First Capital is one of Canada’s largest owners, developers and operators of real estate in Canada’s most densely populated urban centres. It owns interests in 165 properties with a gross leasable area of approximately 25.3 million square feet and a value of $9.9 billion.

First Capital’s board of directors unanimously approved the reorganization of the company into a real estate investment trust earlier this month. That process is ongoing, with First Capital receiving interim Ontario court approval for several aspects of the transition on Friday.

The next step is a special meeting of shareholders on Dec. 10 to vote on the conversion.

CPPIB is a professional investment management organization that invests the funds of the Canada Pension Plan on behalf of its 20 million Canadian contributors and beneficiaries.

Real estate comprises 12.1 per cent of its asset mix.

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