Exploring Toronto’s newest hub for cutting-edge commercial real estate
TORONTO – Before the start of the new millennium, it might have seemed crazy to invest in commercial real estate on Bremner Boulevard, York Street, Harbour Street, or just about any block located south of Union Station’s iconic train tracks.
Thanks to some visionary work by Toronto’s commercial developers, however, what was formerly a dry stretch of parking lots and abandoned industrial spaces has grown skyward – even taking on a new name and image as the city’s “South Core.”
South Core is the true embodiment of what those in the real estate business call a “live, work, play” community. Office workers on York Street, for example, can also invest in a condominium at Harbour Plaza, City Place or Aqualina – allowing them to enjoy a quick walking commute to the office and back, without any hassle of fighting traffic or waiting for a bus.
Likewise, those who prefer to commute in from outside downtown Toronto can access Union Station quickly and easily – and in the winter, access to Toronto’s PATH system allows them to do so without having to trudge through the snow.
On top of its stellar location, what has really made the new South Core special is its commercial developers’ conscientious design approaches and attention to detail. Industry heavyweights like Menkes Developments and Oxford Properties have moved into the area with a mission to topple Bay Street as Toronto’s business core by building a new kind of skyscraper – one that is sleek, contemporary and enviably energy-efficient.
Working in the South Core: An Overview of Commercial Properties
Ever since Menkes announced its intent to develop land adjacent to the ACC back in 2006, the South Core has been the site of a veritable gold rush – with completed projects already housing flagship commercial tenants and even more currently on the way.
With that in mind, we’re pleased to present an overview of some of our favourite commercial towers in Toronto’s South Core. The “LEED Designation” refers to a certificate issued by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program in order to recognize buildings’ environmentally-friendly design features.
19 Harbour Street
Estimated Occupancy: Summer 2016
LEED Designation: Platinum Candidate
Notable Tenants: Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP)
With their newest contribution to the South Core, aptly entitled One York Street, Menkes plans to successfully achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum certification that they were able to attain just around the corner at 25 York. That means occupancy sensors, air-control monitoring, and a whole array of other high-tech features to help tenants reduce their environmental footprint.
In addition to enjoying building access to the PATH network, office workers at One York will also be located right next to Menkes’ tremendously successful Harbour Plaza condo towers – allowing young professionals the opportunity to live and work literally within the same city block.
18 York Street
Completed: Fall 2011
LEED Designation: Gold (Core and Shell).
Notable Tenants: PwC Canada, SNC-Lavalin, RSA Group, Avison Young
Located just across York Street from the Telus Tower, PwC Tower was the first completed phase of GWL Realty Advisors’ ambitious three-part Southcore Financial Centre project. This facility’s many environmentally-friendly features include a green roof and a “deep lake” cooling system that utilizes water from Lake Ontario. With all building systems connected by a state-of-the-art Cisco building information network, the PwC Tower’s robust IP infrastructure is among the finest in Canada.
Commercial tenants in this special space also get to enjoy the privilege of working alongside some of Canada’s most prestigious financial firms – making it a solid investment in your business’s reputation.
18 York Street
Estimated Completion: September 2014
LEED Designation: Gold Candidate
Notable Tenants: Marsh & McLennan Companies
Located immediately to the west of (and connected to) PwC Tower, construction is already well underway on the 700,000-square-foot Bremner Tower. It features a dramatic entranceway and an environmentally-conscious design approach similar to the one applied right next door.
Commercial tenants at Bremner Tower and PwC Tower will enjoy the benefit of not only access to the Toronto PATH network, but also connection to a brand-new Delta Hotel – the third phase of the Southcore project – currently under construction just west of Bremner Tower.
The Telus Tower
25 York Street
Completed: May 2010
LEED Designation: Platinum
Notable Tenants: Telus, Desjardins Capital Markets, President’s Choice Financial, Certified Management Accountants of Ontario
As Menkes’ first commercial foray into the downtown core, the Telus Tower was one of the South Core’s earliest commercial towers, and is still one of the most striking – featuring a contemporary and inviting two-storey lobby and a beautiful façade overlooking the hustle and bustle of Maple Leaf Square.
WaterPark Place III
85 Harbour Street
Estimated Completion: Late 2014
LEED Designation: Platinum Candidate
Notable Tenants: RBC
The third phase of an expansive commercial project that began in the 1980s, WaterPark Place III features its own enviable host of environmentally-friendly features – not to mention the city’s only PATH connection to the Toronto waterfront. This new building’s amenities will include a spectacular lobby, 360-degree views and an innovative elevator management system, making it a top commercial space for world-class business tenants.
WaterPark Place towers I & II are located just east of the third installment near Bay Street, and were among the very first commercial developments south of the train tracks. With a list of prominent tenants including leading businesses like Aon and MacLaren McCann, these slightly older buildings are still a highly attractive option for downtown commercial space.
Many of the area’s newest buildings can be categorized as Class A downtown office space – one of the smartest moves you can make if you’re looking for the latest advances in energy efficiency, air quality, and building science. With the city earning recognition as one of 2013’s top “Intelligent Communities,” Toronto’s waterfront area has also developed a reputation for providing leading broadband infrastructure for businesses.
Live and Play: Enjoying South Core to the Fullest
One of the big reasons commercial tenants have been moving south of Union Station is to take advantage of great new buildings that are more likely to attract young, talented professionals. It makes sense – what could be better than living just a quick walk away from the office? Generation X and Y workers new to the area will find no shortage of fantastic starter homes nearby, including:
- Lanterra Developments and Cadillac Fairview’s Ïce Condominiums, located at 16 York Street, will see completion of its second condominium tower (Phase 2) in late 2014.
- Tridel and Build Toronto’s Ten York Condominiums will bring 728 units to York Street, just south of the Gardiner Expressway, by a projected occupancy date of summer 2017.
- The Residences of Maple Leaf Square, located at the southeast corner of York and Bremner above Real Sports and the Germaine Hotel.
There are many more within the surrounding vicinity – east of Bay Street or even just west of Blue Jays Way.
Speaking of the Blue Jays, we should mention that this is an area of town that has a lot to offer for after-work entertainment. Right beside Union Station, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is a true cultural phenomenon, offering Maple Leafs hockey, Raptors basketball and a wide variety of musical events. If you’re a little more into the retro vibe – or love spending an evening out in the warm summer breeze – the Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) is just a short walk to the west.
For those who enjoy heading out for dinner and drinks after work, this area is also home to the famed Steamwhistle Brewery, a converted former train yard. Over on Bay Street to the East, the popular Miller Tavern specializes in serving top-quality seafood in a casual, elegant setting.
Finding the Perfect Commercial Space in the South Core
Finding the perfect office space is one of the most important business decisions a company can make, so we always recommend getting commercial real estate insight and advice from an agent or broker who specializes in ICI (Industrial, Commercial, and Investment) properties.
If you’re interested in the South Core particularly – or still not sure which part of Toronto would be the best fit for your business’s needs, Living Realty’s dedicated ICI branch would be happy to help you get started. Contact the ICI Branch today to get in touch with a real estate expert who knows the area and can help you find the space you’re looking for.
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