Toronto waterfront renewal
Most Torontonians likely can’t locate Bonnycastle St., but waterfront officials intend to change that by turning this short stump of a road, lying in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, into a major downtown destination. It’s all part of a bold plan to create a massive $800 million neighbourhood along the shoreline, between Lower Sherbourne and Parliament Sts. And it represents a welcome new stage in Toronto’s increasingly dynamic waterfront revitalization.
City council is to vote on approving the proposed four-hectare, mixed-use community. One would expect unanimous support. Called Bayside, the new neighbourhood is to feature 1,700 residences, stores, restaurants, an entertainment corridor and office space all providing 2,400 jobs.
Bonnycastle St. — revamped and extended to the lake — is to be the key to this community, attracting people from across the city, year-round, to its stores and restaurants.
Thinking big, Waterfront Toronto last week revealed its choice of Houston-based Hines, one of the world’s foremost real estate firms, to handle this development. The project’s lead architect is Cesar Pelli, former dean of the Yale University School of Architecture and designer of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. And he seems to have the right vision for this district.
“The people who will eventually live, work and play here were our first and foremost design consideration,” Pelli said. “The neighbourhood will be built on a decidedly human scale, with mews and small streets that promote a sense of closeness and community.”
That’s an inviting prospect. Some public spaces here could open as soon as 2014 with the entire development finished in about a decade. Waterfront Toronto’s next key task is to ensure that these bright hopes and promising plans come to fruition without excessive delay or compromise.
It’s especially important to provide open and easy access to the edges of the lake. If that’s done, Toronto will indeed have a clean, green, new neighbourhood in which all residents can take pride.