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Oxford plans Toronto’s largest-ever, mixed-use development

Oxford Properties has unveiled plans for the largest mixed-use development in Toronto’s history,...

IMAGE: An artist's rendering of the proposed Union Park development in Toronto by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Union Park development in Toronto by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

Oxford Properties has unveiled plans for the largest mixed-use development in Toronto’s history, a four-tower, $3.5-billion, 4.3-million-square-foot project called Union Park.

The development would include 3.3 million square feet of office space, approximately 800 residential rental units, and the opportunity for three acres of public space including an urban park built over the rail corridor leading from the downtown Union Station. This would be built on a site that encompasses about four acres.

“This is a transformational project in one of the most exciting development nodes in Toronto,” said Eric Plesman, executive vice-president of North America for Oxford Properties, in a release Wednesday.

The office component would be split into two towers of 58 and 48 storeys. The residential component would also feature two towers, of 54 and 44 storeys.

It would be located across the street from Toronto’s iconic CN Tower and Rogers Centre stadium.

“Befitting its status as one of the largest redevelopment projects in North America, and the largest in Toronto’s history, Union Park will feature world-class design from a globally renowned architecture team,” Plesman said in the release. “Our goal at Oxford is to connect people to exceptional places, so we are creating an ambitious project that adds to Toronto’s ongoing evolution as a world-class city to live and work in.”

The development would be one of the largest real estate projects in Canadian history.

Office, residential, retail and parks

Union Park is designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, best known for the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Toronto’s Adamson Associates, the executive architect for Canary Wharf in London and The Stack in Vancouver, is also involved in the design.

In addition to the office and residential component, Union Park will include 200,000 square feet of destination retail including food and beverage.
The development also creates an opportunity to construct, working alongside several stakeholders, an adjoining two-acre urban park. It will also deliver an improved one-acre Isabella Valancy Crawford Park.

The podium levels will feature bright, large office floor plates of approximately 100,000 square feet, which are in high demand by growing tech firms. An Oxford spokesman said the immediate focus will be on planning and approvals, after which the office component would move ahead “based on demand”. At this early stage, there is no committed tenant although Oxford is in early talks with potential clients.

If construction begins as anticipated by about 2023 (pending municipal and other approvals), the project would be kicking off in the same area as another major Oxford office project, the 60-storey The HUB. The company, which is the real estate arm of Ontario pension fund investment giant OMERS, released updated plans for The HUB several months ago. The 30 Bay Street development is proposed to contain 1.4 million square feet of space for the very tight downtown Toronto office market.

Toronto’s citywide office vacancy rate was reported at 3.8 per cent by Colliers International after Q1 2019, but just 1.1 per cent in the downtown core. That is the lowest of any major city in North America.

Other planned features at Union Park

As part of its connectivity to city transportation, the PATH indoor walkway system will be extended west from the Skywalk to Peter Street.

“Union Park will be a world-class mixed-use project that will leverage the experience we have garnered through developing and owning some of the best office, retail, and residential properties across the globe,” said Mark Cote, Oxford’s head of development, Canada, in the release.

IMAGE: A rendering of the park Oxford proposes at Union Park. It would be built atop the downtown rail corridor. (Courtesy Oxford)

A rendering of the park Oxford proposes at Union Park. It would be built atop the downtown rail corridor. (Courtesy Oxford)

One of the most notable features will be the two-acre urban park over the Union station rail corridor, spanning between Blue Jays Way and the John Street Bridge. Designed by OJB Landscape Architecture, it aims to deliver much-needed public green space in the heart of Toronto’s downtown core next to some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.

“The new park is a unique opportunity to create a true city-building project that benefits our city for generations to come,” Cote added in the release. “It perfectly complements the city’s own Rail Deck Park plans by expanding it to the east and, together, we can create a landmark communal space for Torontonians and visitors from around the world to enjoy.

“Our plans are at a very early stage, but we look forward to working with the multiple stakeholders and adjacent land owners involved to make this opportunity possible for the city.”

The residential units are currently contemplated to include an attractive mix of one-, two- and three-bed apartments as well as an integrated daycare.

“This development will bring 10s of thousands of jobs to Toronto and will create a progressive new workplace and community for working and living,” Plesman said in the release. “The population in Toronto’s core has exploded over the past decade, and our family-friendly multi-bedroom apartments and daycare will help to address the need for housing that allows families to continue living in the core.”

Including the Union Park site, Oxford is the owner of 11 acres on Front Street spanning from 225 to 325 Front St. It includes Metro Toronto Convention Centre lands, which are not impacted by this proposal.

Oxford has commenced its public engagement process for Union Park.

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