Construction and leasing are both progressing well at The Well, a 7.8-acre mixed-use residential, office and retail site which is one of the most prominent ongoing developments in downtown Toronto.
When completed next spring after a construction period that began in 2017, The Well will provide 1.5 million square feet of residential space with approximately 1,700 condominium and purpose-built rental units, 1.2 million square feet of office space, and 320,000 square feet of retail space in seven mixed-use towers and mid-rise buildings, as well as park and public spaces.
RioCan REIT acquired the site between Front Street West and Wellington Street west of Spadina Avenue in 2012, along with Allied Properties REIT and DiamondCorp (which sold its 20 per cent interest to its two partners in 2017). Along with more recent partners, Tridel and Woodbourne Capital Management, the development is well underway and journalists were offered guided tours on May 6.
Major retail leasing announcements were made the same day.
Retail leasing moving forward at The Well
The Well’s retail space is approximately 79 per cent leased, or with tenants in advanced stages of negotiation.
“You can’t really do retail leasing three or four years in advance, but retail leasing is now picking up and we’re really excited about that,” RioCan chief investment officer Andrew Duncan said.
“Tenants we’ve been talking to have seen the project for what the value proposition will be in Toronto, and we’ve been finalizing those deals without issue,” RioCan vice-president of leasing Ashtar Zubair added. “This is not a mall.
“Our intent here, with regards to the merchandising, is to curate to the customers that we consider our residents. There will be 11,000 people living and working here, and we know the services and needs they need.
“We’re not going to go deep on one specific category. We want to curate the centre to effectively be a streetfront controlled by one landlord, so we’ll be able to interchange as needs evolve for customers.”
Arcadia Earth, HealthOne and more
One new tenant at The Well will be Arcadia Earth, an immersive exhibition powered by augmented reality that takes entrants on a multi-sensory journey through Planet Earth by visiting underwater worlds, mystical forests and underground caves. Arcadia Earth is in New York City and Las Vegas and The Well will be the first Canadian location.
HealthOne is a medical and wellness centre that will occupy 15,000 square feet at The Well and offer: family medicine; rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy and osteopathy; dental services; optometry and optical services; mental health support with virtual and in-person psychotherapy; wellness services such as naturopathy; and a full-service skin clinic.
Other finalized retail tenants at The Well include Sweat and Tonic, Oliver & Bonacini, Shoppers Drug Mart, BMO, Scotiabank, Quantum Coffee, Tokyo Smoke, Bailey Nelson, Bone & Biscuit, dentalcorp, Fix Coffee + Bikes, Prince Street Pizza, Lumea Laser Clinic, Maverick, The Village Collective and Vie by Lê.
The site tour included a walk under a 35,000-square-foot canopy comprised of almost 2,000 panes of glass that will provide both shelter from the elements and natural light to an unenclosed retail area. There will be landscaping on all floors under the canopy, bridges will allow people to cross from side to side on the upper levels of the retail component, and open-air alleys will connect the north and south ends of The Well.
“We believe the site is a really good opportunity to transition from Front all the way through to King West,” Duncan said.
Wellington Market at The Well
The Well will also feature Wellington Market, a 70,000-square-foot, fully liquor-licensed food and drink market with indoor and outdoor seating for 900 people. The 4,200-person space will offer local produce, prepared food kiosks, packaged food vendors, artisanal fare and casual dining options day and night. It will include 25,000 square feet of gross leasable area and house approximately 60 vendors.
There will be “activation space” embedded into the market to allow for events, concerts, comedy shows and other activities intended to draw people to the location.
Other restaurant concepts at The Well will include an upscale French bistro and a two-level British-inspired tavern.
Parking for 744 vehicles, shipping and loading functions will be below ground, where there will also be storage space and full-service catering operations powered by an Oliver & Bonacini commissary and ghost kitchen.
Office component is progressing well
The tour went up to the 32nd floor of the RioCan and Allied-developed primary office tower that, while still not completed, has begun occupancy. Office space at The Well is 90 per cent leased, with major tenants including Shopify, Index Exchange, Spaces, BDP Quadrangle, Financeit and Konrad.
Almost one million square feet of space is in the primary office tower, with the remainder spread over the lower levels of three other mixed-use buildings.
“We started well before COVID and were lucky enough to be one of the projects that could work all of the way through COVID because we have residential components all the way through,” Duncan said. “We did a lot of good pre-leasing on the office side pre-COVID and that was maintained throughout COVID.”
Office floor plate sizes grow smaller the higher you go in the tower, while an offset elevator core opens up the floor plates.
All heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems are located under the floors. Heating and cooling throughout the development will be taken care of through a partnership with Enwave’s renewable energy system using water from deep in Lake Ontario.
The Well’s system includes a 7.6-million-litre water tank that acts as a thermal battery to create and store energy at night, leveraging off-peak costs. The green and clean technology will also supply a high-efficiency hot water network to deliver efficient, resilient heating and cooling to The Well and 13 million square feet of space on nearby King Street West.
The tower, which is targeting LEED Platinum certification, will be topped by a 36th-floor restaurant offering 360-degree city views and a mix of seating options and guest experiences, including a luxurious dining room, bar, sushi counter and chef’s rail.
Economic impact and residential components
An economic impact report on The Well by Altus Group concluded annual benefits from the ongoing operation of its commercial and retail spaces, and the management of the property, will generate more than 23,000 person-years of employment and more than $300 million in income by households.
The estimated annual economic benefit from the ongoing operations of The Well will add up to approximately $939 million for Toronto. Once complete, The Well will offer space for 5,000 office jobs, 1,200 retail jobs, and 1,700 residences split between three condos and three purpose-built rental apartments.
RioCan Living and Woodbourne’s 46-storey FourFifty The Well will have 592 residential rental suites. Woodbourne also owns two mid-rise rental apartment buildings on Wellington Street that will have more than 300 units.
Ninety per cent of The Well’s condo component, representing more than 650 units, has been sold by Tridel.
Tridel at The Well – Signature Series is a luxury 14-storey, 98-unit building fronting Wellington Street. Prices started at $2.1 million and suite sizes range from 1,468 to 3,259 square feet.
Tridel at The Well – Classic Series I is a 38-storey condo with limited suite availability, while Classic Series II has 258 suites of up to 1,800 square feet.