It’s touted as the most ambitious mixed-use project in the country. Those metrics are difficult to verify, but there’s no doubt The Well is of a scale seldom seen before and is a game-changing development for Toronto.
And that’s why it is Toronto Storeys’ Project of the Year.
Not only is the project massive in scope with 1.1 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail and 1,700 residential units, it’s an epic construction feat with all components being built simultaneously.
Work has been underway since fall of 2018 on the site where the former Globe and Mail building sat (prior to that it was the home of the Toronto Telegram newspaper and before that Loretto Abbey). Seven buildings from 13 to 45 storeys in height will rise, including one retail/office building, three rental towers and three condo towers.
They will bring three million square feet and more than 7.8 acres of mixed-use space to the city’s popular King West neighbourhood.
The development team includes RioCan Real Estate Investment, Allied Properties and Tridel. Woodbourne Capital Management will handle the rental component.
“RioCan was looking for someone to purchase the condo component and we had a great opportunity because of our brand and ability to be successful,” says Jim Ritchie, Chief Operating Officer for Tridel Group of Companies. “Ellis Don is building the office component and our company Deltera (Tridel’s construction arm) is building everything else.
“It’s extremely complicated and is being executed all together,” says Ritchie. “From a construction perspective, it was best handled all at once as all the various pieces relate to other.”
The first condo building, the Tridel at the Well – Classic Series I with 400 suites, was released in summer of 2019 and is more than 90 per cent sold. In the same month, the Tridel at the Well – Signature Series, with 98 suites facing Wellington St, launched. The success prompted the move-up of the launch of the third and final Tridel at the Well – Classic Series II in August of 2019, with 22 floors and 258 suites (prices start from the $800,000s for remaining suites and there are one, two and three-bedroom suites, with and without dens). Initial condo occupancy is expected to start in late 2022.
The Well will connect Victoria Memorial Park and Clarence Square with an 18-metre-wide promenade on the south side of Wellington. The promenade will bring a vision for the street that harkens back to the 19th century to fruition by connecting the two heritage green spaces. A new cat-themed park will run north from the Wellington promenade to King St., complete with a water feature and catnip plantings, plus four whimsical feline statues, seating and lighting.
People living at The Well will enjoy an authentic urban existence in a neighbourhood with a Walk Score of 99. They’ll be able to walk to work, dine out at the eateries of Restaurant Row along Wellington St., shop at existing retail shops in the neighbourhood, plus at new ones to come and an 95,000-square-foot Wellington Market to be included at The Well.
“The Well provides the very largest economic benefits to the neighbourhood,” says Ritchie. “It will facilitate working close to home and will bring a fundamental change to Front and Spadina streets.”
With 5,500 workers in the commercial component, 1,500 workers in retail and 3,400 residents in the residential buildings, “it really is a city within a city,” says Ritchie.
Jonathan Gitlin, president and chief operating officer of RioCan REIT, which is responsible for the retail component of The Well, told renx.ca that “one of the elements of the retail that we’re very enthusiastic about is the food market, which will be approximately 95,000 square feet and bring a whole host of unique food uses to this neighbourhood and to the city.”
Developers have joined with Enwave Energy Corporation to provide a deep lake water cooling and hot water distribution system to heat and cool The Well as well as a large portion of the downtown west area.
DiamondCorp was in charge of rezoning, and are now responsible for the site plan approval process, alongside their partners. They also retain an ownership stake in the project.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has said The Well is 10 times larger than the average condo development and will “be transformative for the downtown core and for the city.”
The massive project, noted Tory, is creating 1,600 construction jobs.
By Tracy Hanes