Toronto’s east end has a big development coming its way. Currently Canada’s largest commercial development, First Gulf is essentially creating a new city neighbourhood. It’s like a city within a city: office and retail spaces, parks and public spaces, restaurants and a huge new transit hub. Nothing has been forgotten!
East Harbour will occupy the space bordered by the DVP, Lake Shore Boulevard, Booth Avenue and Eastern Avenue. What was previously the Unilever industrial site, this 60 acre plot will soon be home to a massive new mixed-use space. And when I say massive, I’m talking 12 million square feet massive. Ten million square feet is allotted for office space and two million for retail. To put that in perspective, the Eaton Centre is 2.15 million square feet. This mixed-use space is expected to bring 50,000 new tech jobs to the area, underscoring Toronto as the ‘Silicon Valley of the North’.
Let’s talk transit. The city is finally preparing to add that downtown relief subway line we’ve all been hoping for. This, along with a few other transit improvements, is all slated to weave through East Harbour making it one of the city’s major transit hubs. The proposed design depicts a huge arched glass ceiling that covers three major transit lines, a street and bike lanes. At the very top there are bike lanes with current and future GO Transit Lines just below. A Broadview LRT extension, along with regular traffic, sits below that and the subway relief line below it all. Seem excessive? With 70,000 new jobs and countless visitors to the area, the infrastructure is much needed. We’re just happy the city planned accordingly this time around.
While this may be the largest project to date, the downtown east is no stranger to revitalization. With Regent Park spearheading the area facelift in the early 2000s, we’ve now seen a residential boom begin in Toronto’s downtown east. Major area improvements from the Pan-Am games in 2015 led to the updates in the Canary District followed by the stunning architectural gems of River City, designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architects, that sprouted up just west of the future East Harbour location in Corktown.
With Toronto’s west end neighbourhoods already so densely developed, it makes sense that developers are turning to the east end when looking for new ground on which to build. And there’s no denying that the city needs it. The Toronto housing market can’t build enough condos fast enough to keep up with demand. But that’s a story for a different time.