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First Canadian Place gets a major overhaul

Posted by Robyn Urback / November 4, 2012

first canadian place renovation torontoFirst Canadian Place is as difficult as ever to access through the PATH, but the rewards once you arrive are that much sweeter. Of course, the rejuvenation of the Financial District building is not necessarily intended to appeal to PATH-illiterates such as myself, but rather to the 8,000 tenants and 80,000 daily visitors that regularly pass through its halls.

first canadian place renovation torontoI'm sure many of us can recall a few years back when slabs of marble started falling off the side of First Canadian Place. No, not glass off condo towers, or concrete off the Gardiner, or bricks off a heritage building — marble off a downtown tower (get your incredibly dangerous falling materials straight). Anyway, the incident catalyzed the First Canadian Place renovation, the first major overhaul for the building since its erection back in 1975.

With the official ribbon-cutting ceremony over and done, Shopping Centre Director Lucie Bisson is eager to show me around the space. "All older buildings need to reinvent themselves," she says as we begin our tour. "And First Canadian Place definitely needed an update."

first canadian place renovation torontoBeyond some of the aesthetic changes — exterior recladding, retail expansion, and a refurbished main entrance, to name a few — First Canadian Place has made significant energy-saving enhancements, enough so to achieve Leed Gold status. The building has replaced some existing boilers, upgraded to energy-efficient chillers, reduced the tower's lighting operating schedule, and switched to low-flow washroom fixtures in an effort to reduce consumption. But since my tour was focused on retail rather than retrofitting, Lucie led me over toward Market Place.

first canadian place renovation torontoOn our way, we pass by a gigantic new Rexall — a tenant that has been in First Canadian Place since before the renovation, but now boasts an expansive, shiny new space (same goes for a few other shops, including Harry Rosen, and Judith & Charles).

first canadian place renovation torontoThe Market Place is a bit of a food-court "lite;" more a spot for grab-and-go than a lunchtime sit-and-eat. With a Longo's grocery store as its main fixture, the Market Place features a mix of chain and independent retail, including David's Tea, Prairie Girl Cupcakes, Brick Street Bakery, and Greenleafs. The space is also poised to receive Kupfert & Kim in the coming months, an outlet focused of vegan fare with gluten-free options on the menu as well.

first canadian place renovation torontoThe actual upstairs food court at First Canadian Place is still a bit "1975" in vibe, though Lucie tells me that it, too, will receive a facelift starting next year. The renovation will coincide with the opening of Cactus Club, a casual west coast restaurant that will be making its first venture east.

first canadian place renovation torontoNext, as we saunter past some of the clothing and other retail, Lucie points out the new Lasik MD clinic, the space for the new post office, and the area for the medical centre, to open in 2013. "The idea is that everything you need is right here," she says. "If you need the post office, the bank, the doctor — if you spill coffee on your shirt before you have a meeting — it's all downstairs."

first canadian place renovation torontoThe convenience is undeniable for First Canadian Place tenants. The building even offers a personal shopper free of charge for novice Financial District employees looking for a business wardrobe, or top-floor bosses keen on an outfit update. The final stages of the update will continue through to 2014, with falling marble hopefully rendered but a distant memory.

Photos by Jesse Milns



dan derbridge / November 4, 2012 at 08:48 am
shopping for the 1%
Idiot replying to a comment from dan derbridge / November 4, 2012 at 09:12 am
Shopping for people with, you know....actual jobs.
danny / November 4, 2012 at 09:28 am
well, obviously. it's where the 1% work.
the addition of the longos market is welcome, as is the beautiful job they did on the facade of the building.
Me replying to a comment from Idiot / November 4, 2012 at 11:47 am
Anthony / November 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm
I think this is also the site of a suicide around the first weekend of Sept 2011. (Not in the basement, but from the scaffolding several floors into the sky.) Since the media censored any mention of it, that is probably going to be a distant memory too.
Loon replying to a comment from Idiot / November 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm
I love working down there.
iSkyscraper / November 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm
Fantastic reno job. Toronto takes the PATH and the downtown private-public space office towers for granted. Other cities would kill to have these. Well done.
the 1% / November 4, 2012 at 01:56 pm
I haven't had an erection since 1975 either.
awef replying to a comment from dan derbridge / November 4, 2012 at 05:59 pm
yeah, rexall is really upper class...
Bojan Landekić / November 4, 2012 at 07:05 pm
It's very irresponsible and dangerous (and even criminal!) of the owners of First Canadian Place to have waited for things to fall off before doing maintenance on the building.

They should be sued for negligence. It's only sheer luck that nobody got hurt. This is scary.
Bojan Landekić replying to a comment from Anthony / November 4, 2012 at 07:06 pm
News doesn't cover real stories in Toronto. Just look at the dumbasses on CP24. They cover random stabbings and shootings all over the place, every single day! But real news.. no.. that's not important.
Sean / November 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm
CP24 is bubblegum hype news. Stay tuned for a Bigfoot story.

Meanwhile... First Canadian Place did a swell job outside and indoors too.
Idiot replying to a comment from dan derbridge / November 5, 2012 at 08:53 am
What a retarded comment. Get a job, bum.
Jeez / November 5, 2012 at 09:03 am
Man, people will find a reason to shit on anything. Even a renovation. Ya, I'm sure absolutely everyone who shops there earns $400,000.00 a year....
Gul Jasad replying to a comment from Idiot / November 5, 2012 at 09:46 am
Is that going to be your's (and all other right-leaning people's) solution to everything, and the mess that corporations/governments have made of the world and the economy?
Rob / November 5, 2012 at 10:09 am
I actually find it kind of a pain to navigate. I'd rather go above ground in most cases, even in bad weather.
vampchick21 replying to a comment from dan derbridge / November 5, 2012 at 02:16 pm
Except the majority of us working down in the Financial district belong to the 1%. And the retail stores in First Canadian Place are hardly 1% shopping. Suzy's anyone? Jacobs? Aldo's? Nine West?
Ford4ever replying to a comment from Gul Jasad / November 5, 2012 at 07:17 pm
Your revolution is over, Lebowski! The bums lost! Condolences.

Make sure you add shareholders to the list of guilty parties. That means everyone who is going to collect a pension, CPP or otherwise. Yes, you.
Gul Jassad replying to a comment from Ford4ever / November 6, 2012 at 01:10 am
We haven't had a revolution from progressives people yet, moron. But if things continue as that have, when one happens, morons like you will be in for a world of hurt.

BTW, what is it with people like you that you can support political parties that have policies which have people like you ending up in the glue factory when the economy tanks or services are cut, or when something happens to you and you're not 100% able to work as hard as they want for shitty wages? Please let me know.
Ford4ever replying to a comment from Gul Jassad / November 7, 2012 at 06:19 am
Gul Jassad, I am sorry you did not catch the tongue-in-cheek Big Lebowski reference. Sigh. Maybe it's before your time.

As for the rest of your comment, I'm not sure how you inferred my political leanings. Suffice it to say you got things wrong.
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