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Oxford releases new Toronto casino renderings

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 31, 2013

toronto oxford casinoOxford Properties has released a new clutch of digital renderings showing its massive $3-billion casino proposal in significantly greater detail. Where as before the only visual clues the development company had provided showed the project as a whole from the air, these new images give a greater sense of what the company is planning for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre lands should it be allowed to build the sprawling live, work, and play facility.

Perhaps the most eye-catching image features a totally re-worked southeast corner of Front and John streets. In the place of the blocky MTCC, Oxford envisions a 175,000 sq. ft. gambling hall with a floating rooftop pool that looks like something vaguely similar to Chicago's famous Marina City towers, immortalized on the cover of alt-country band Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album.

toronto oxford casinoThe other parts of the complex look decidedly less like the type of place one would gamble on blackjack or spend a night in front of a slot machine but are still no less visually striking. The angular glass residential and office towers located on the southwest corner of Front and Simcoe will be the tallest on the 11-acre site and will be split by a large podium and food court.

Yesterday, a group of former Toronto leaders delivered an open letter to mayor Rob Ford urging against building a casino in the city. David Crombie, John Sewell, and Art Eggleton warned that "the sales pitch" wouldn't match the reality of hosting a major gambling venue in the city. Ford said he "completely disagree[s]" with their advice.

Meanwhile today American gaming giant MGM and local real estate group Cadillac Fairview Corp. have announced they're joining forces to develop their own resort proposal for the CNE grounds. Rob Ford has previously said that he would prefer any development to take place on the city-owned Exhibition Place in order to reap the most cash.toronto oxford casinoThe company continues to tout a 5.5-acre park straddling the rail corridor to the south of the existing convention centre despite being told in October that it wouldn't own the "air rights" to the space over the tracks simply because it buys the surrounding properties, a snag that put the potentially deal-sweetening green space in question.

In terms of numbers, Oxford expects around 25,000 total daily visitors to the complex and, to cater for the extra traffic, is promising 2,000 parking spaces. Contrast that with the Eaton Centre, which sees 130,000 daily visitors and has a smaller 1,400-stall parking lot. It seems Oxford expects a spike in drivers on Front Street despite the site having good transit links.

To counter the potentially choking effect of 2,000 new vehicles vying for a parking spot on Front Street, a below-grade street is being worked into the plans that will be accessible from five access points surrounding the complex.

The result of extensive public consultations on the topic are due to be heard at city council in March.

No-one from Oxford Properties could be immediately reached for comment this afternoon.

MORE IMAGES:toronto oxford casinotoronto oxford casinotoronto oxford casinoChris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Oxford Properties.

Discussion

64 Comments

B / January 31, 2013 at 03:27 pm
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These casinos should offer to help pay for the Gardiner..
K / January 31, 2013 at 03:44 pm
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The former Toronto Mayors Crombie, Sewell and Eggleton have far more insight and experience into running a world class city than than Ford.
Of course Ford is all for a casino. He might get his Ferris wheel after all.
iSkyscraper / January 31, 2013 at 03:50 pm
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The CNE is, in my mind, the odds-on favourite for where this will end up. It's cheap to build there, there is lots of parking, it's more isolated from potential complainants, and it's just easier to swallow. I mean, if you didn't mind the tacky Midway and Medieaval Times and unruly soccer drunks and the seasonal casino, it's hard to argue against a bigger permanent casino at that location. Would end up very similar in location and impact to Casino de Montreal. Fine.

That said, the Oxford proposal for the convention centre is the bolder choice that would do more for the good of the city (to the extent that a casino can do any good at all via citybuilding). Covering the rail corridor, enlivening the convention centre - always a difficult building type for a city core - sucking in tourists, better access to transit.... but it would take a bold mayor who understood cities to pull it off correctly.

Given that we have Mr. sack-of-doorknobs for mayor at present, the CNE will be the do-least-harm scenario.
Alex replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / January 31, 2013 at 03:57 pm
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Could not have said that better myself.
Rick / January 31, 2013 at 03:59 pm
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That actually looks really great, but the CNE is probably a better place for a casino.
JJ / January 31, 2013 at 03:59 pm
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Ford must be down....Looks like a gambling man - hes likely had a drink or two in his day....hell I bet he'll hold meetings there....I can picture him sitting around pumpin a slot machine all day. Yes...Casino please - lets keep him busy so we can get some work done
Ling Gu / January 31, 2013 at 04:13 pm
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The renderings are actually rather impressive. (Can anyone tell me - how closely do any renderings, as displayed in this post, ultimately correspond with what is actually built?) I just hate the idea that it's for a casino. It's a shame this kind of development required a centre for gambling, rather than a dedication to improving the downtown core and waterfront.
Liberty Villain / January 31, 2013 at 04:13 pm
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Is it just me, or are the towers in the last picture (waterfront) grossly disproportioned...?
JR / January 31, 2013 at 04:17 pm
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Finally some innovation....regardless of being in favour of casinos or your feelings on the mayor...let's get talking about some innovate ideas instead of sitting on our hands and sole sourcing everything to companies that are as bland as white toast. Let's get some fresh ideas coming through and yes....let's get them to put some money towards rebuilding the Gardiner! Love the ideas!
Kamal / January 31, 2013 at 04:18 pm
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This looks great, except for the casino.
Undecided But the Pics are Cool replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / January 31, 2013 at 04:19 pm
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Without any knowledge or expertise in the area, I'd think that putting the casino in more populated and vibrant area would be better in that it would have a harder time taking over the character of the area.

I could see a casino at the CNE becoming what everyone is worried about where as a casino by Union/Skydome/CN Tower/ACC/MTCC etc. would be just one part of the area, not the entire one.
bob / January 31, 2013 at 04:21 pm
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Aren't casinos not supposed to have windows so the gamblers don't know what time of day it is? Those are a lot of windows in the first pic.
MS / January 31, 2013 at 04:26 pm
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There's very little chance anything like that would be built.

For one, casinos are built with windowless designs. Several reasons: help casino-goers lose track of time and spend a lot of money, control the space entirely, and reduce cheating opportunities. Imagine someone in a neighbouring condo, with a high-powered telescope focused on a particular dealer. When you should take a hit, they turn their apartment light off; when you should stand, they turn it on. Etc. etc. All sorts of cheating opportunities arise if the outside world can see your gaming floor.

This will not be built. Zero chance.
canarch / January 31, 2013 at 04:26 pm
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Good because no flies will come to Toronto anymore when they see this scary building...Canadian Architecture suck more than Harper on socks. This is a sad place for architects.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / January 31, 2013 at 04:27 pm
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When will the hookers be arriving?
canarch / January 31, 2013 at 04:28 pm
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FOR A CITY FULL OF LOSERS WHAT IS BETTER THAN A CASINO...GO AHEAD FORD, LIBERALS AND HARPER WILL SUPPORT THE POCKETS SUCTION OF HONEST PEOPLE
Khristopher / January 31, 2013 at 04:34 pm
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Absolutely love it. Awesome architecture and big open public spaces. Perfect location for a casino as well. If people become addicted to gambling, that's their own fault, that should not ruin the fun for the rest of us.
Paul / January 31, 2013 at 04:47 pm
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I'm pretty much a bleeding-heart lefty but I can't get worked up about the casino issue. I like Vegas, and I've spent a little time and money in the casinos in Halifax, Montreal, Orillia and Niagara. People who are addicted to gambling are not going to be prevented from it just because they have to drive to Markham or Rama instead of doing it downtown, and I don't think that my choices should be limited because other people make bad ones. I think it would be pretty awesome to have a company with buckets of cash invest it in revitalizing the convention centre and/or the CNE grounds. I don't imagine a casino will be the cash cow Ford thinks it will be, but nor do I think it will be the social welfare disaster that Perks et al. are predicting. I'd like to see some sober analysis based on hard facts and numbers from both sides.
JP / January 31, 2013 at 04:58 pm
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Like Paul, I'm a lefty as well who strongly dislikes Ford and nearly all of his agendas.

However, I have trouble believing the suggestion that a casino will destroy Toronto. Montreal, London (England), Berlin all have casinos among many other great cities. And, to be frank, these renderings are incredible. If they can actually pull off putting a park over the railway tracks, that would be a huge boon for the city. In my opinion, those tracks are a bigger barrier than the Gardiner.
Alex / January 31, 2013 at 05:09 pm
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I agree with Paul and JP. I don't really care if a casino is built, I don't think it will have much of an impact on the city one way or the other. People with a gambling problem will go online still, and we won't get a huge tax windfall. It would be nice if someone renovated the convention centre though. It is ridiculously confusing and ugly.
Pat replying to a comment from K / January 31, 2013 at 05:17 pm
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Mayor Krombie... the same mayor who instituted a by law that there couldn't be a building higher then 45 ft... Yeah great mayor... I love those who bash Mayor Ford, are usually the ones who are incapable of seeing this CITY develop into a proper CITY... we're not a town anymore... Mississauga has a casino for crying out loud...

This is what the city needs... get over this small town vibe you're desperately holding on to...
JJ (JAR JAR) ABRAMS SUCKS / January 31, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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Those people look too happy to make them wanna gamble their RRSP's away.
Where are the KFC's and Politicians getting envelopes of cash?
Emz / January 31, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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Seems like they're aiming for something similar to other major international city core casinos in places like Singapore, Macau, and Melbourne. Putting it in a mixed use area with high density large businesses, tourist attractions, and conference/convention facilities may in fact help to "suppress" some of the more undesirable facets such an establishment can sometimes bring in. I'm sure it can be done successfully if executed right. They'll probably work hard to heavily enforce a certain allure and high standard of quality. I know it seems like doing a deal with the devil, but sometimes the city has to take some bold risks if it truly wants to move forward. Just my 2 cents.
TDotRome / January 31, 2013 at 05:22 pm
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Pitch renderings mean next to nothing. These are designed to get governments to say yes, not actually construct a building.

And no way they get this tall.

The first image already looks dated.
Graeme / January 31, 2013 at 05:25 pm
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AWESOME!! I think it looks like a great project, will create loads of new jobs, and give the city another great tourist attraction!
Graeme / January 31, 2013 at 05:25 pm
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Not to mention the great amounts of "green space" it looks to be adding!!
Rick / January 31, 2013 at 05:27 pm
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Build it and they will come.
Bubba / January 31, 2013 at 05:38 pm
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FUCK casinos!
stopitman / January 31, 2013 at 06:00 pm
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Put a provision in that if the casino doesn't meet the yearly payoff to the city, the casino pays up the balance for the first 20 years of operation. That would stop BS proposals and estimates very quickly :P
Abstract / January 31, 2013 at 06:05 pm
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I don't have a problem with a Casino in the city. Most individuals who have travelled know that most cities operate Casinos with little issues. However, my concern is the lack of infrastructure in the "downtown" location suggested. Lakeshore, Front, and the ever nasty Gardiner are currently a mess during most days but remember what it like when there are concerts, sporting events, CNE, marathons etc. How is this city going to cope with further attractions before we figure out how it's citizens can travel within it!
Steven / January 31, 2013 at 06:12 pm
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An all glass casino? Stay away on windy days!
Jon / January 31, 2013 at 06:17 pm
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I notice their infrastructure map (page 11) shows bike lanes on Jarvis. Well that settles it, I guess they're coming back!
jean guy le pitou / January 31, 2013 at 06:23 pm
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the towers look like f'n salt and pepper shakers
bill / January 31, 2013 at 06:38 pm
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Don't be fooled by these mockups these are closer to the final product.

http://i.imgur.com/fgPZk.jpg
Mar / January 31, 2013 at 06:49 pm
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Exactly what abstract said. The thing to consider here is that people whine about traffic every time there is any event in the core. These casinos will make it like there is a festival here everyday. Add actual festivals and you are talking about a city at a standstill. Put up roadtolls then we can talk about casinos
tehSkoolbus replying to a comment from Benedict / January 31, 2013 at 06:59 pm
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^^ Accurate depiction.
Sean / January 31, 2013 at 07:18 pm
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Make the entire development contingent upon securing the air rights above the railroad tracks. Pretty guarantees the project will never proceed.
jo / January 31, 2013 at 07:47 pm
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The numbers regarding the traffic only seem to include the casino. What about the impact of the forecasted 10,000 office employees, 2 giant condos and expanded conference area. how on earth would their plan compensate for that extra traffic???
Nezabravka / January 31, 2013 at 07:53 pm
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another glass building, so predictable. I can't believe how little imagination Canadian developers have. A world class city has a great architecture, and Toronto is getting so far from it with the influx of all the same tall glass towers. Casino downtown is just another sad example of what the city is turning into.
anon / January 31, 2013 at 08:10 pm
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ugly, i hate it
Emz / January 31, 2013 at 08:12 pm
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and in other casino related news..

"Las Vegas Sands Rises as Macau Casino Results Beat Forecasts"
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-30/las-vegas-sands-sales-beat-analysts-estimates-on-macau-gains.html
Paul Davie replying to a comment from B / January 31, 2013 at 08:28 pm
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The Gardiner should be tolled, it'll pay for itself. Casino revenues in Toronto will be overshadowed with the TTC extension, but I think it would do the city very well. With gay pride/ caribanna bringing in millions in revenue every year, add that volume of people the casino will attract, I think it shouldve been done a long time ago.
Gabe / January 31, 2013 at 08:47 pm
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I see alot of people walking, hanging out, sunny day, WHERE IS THE ACTUAL CASINO? I see no card tables, roulette wheels,slot machines, they've shown everything but the actual casino.

ALSO if your gonna have lots of space around the casino you need things right there like in Vegas for people to do, places to eat, lots of people go down to the casino area not everyone gambles....the whole area should be built up to handle the casino and its off shoots.
Anthony Derbish replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / January 31, 2013 at 09:03 pm
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It is easier to place a casino at the proposed location above over the CNE grounds because those lands are federally owned (CN).....makes it easier to place a casino there for certain legal reasons as opposed to the CNE grounds.
Bill replying to a comment from bob / January 31, 2013 at 09:13 pm
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They aren't showing the casino part. Just everything else
Ted / January 31, 2013 at 10:16 pm
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Actually, that hour glass looking building is the casino. But just because there are large windows doesn't mean the casino floor would be visible from the outside. It all depends on the configuration.
Aaron / January 31, 2013 at 10:18 pm
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Casino + mega mall: city building 1993 style.

Nice bait and switch, back of napkin renders. Just vote 'yes' then see the dreck that they actually build
tommy boy / January 31, 2013 at 11:20 pm
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They should build it in Etobicoke. It's part of Toronto and I'm sure that the residents of those ridings are most in favor of the idea.
onthetake / February 1, 2013 at 12:04 am
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what happen to the 5 million dollar study the city paid for a few years back?!?!?! the city voted NO then and the city says NO now!!!
Josh / February 1, 2013 at 12:08 am
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AND WHERE DO I PARK? I DON"T SEE ANY PARKING...
v79 replying to a comment from Josh / February 1, 2013 at 12:47 am
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The proposal said that there will be 4,000 parking spots on the site, with another 10,000 available within ten minutes of the site.

I'm of the opinion that a casino will bring more good than bad, but these rendering are very underwhelming. The circular Casino building itself looks like it was proposed in the 80's. There doesn't seem to be any flow or connectivity to the complex's design, it's no different than if five different developers were offered their own individual block to do with as they pleased. None of the towers/building complement each other in any way, nor do they add to the skyline in a positive way. This definitely has to go back to the drawing board.
ashleigh / February 1, 2013 at 03:37 am
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I can't wait for next week's casino proposals.

8 casino proposals in January!
14 casino proposals in February!!
Casino proposals will overtake condo proposals in Toronto 2013!
RizMi / February 1, 2013 at 08:15 am
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We must oppose coming of Casino to the city!
voteNO / February 1, 2013 at 09:58 am
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STOP corruption in our municipal government!!! jail time to councillors who are taking bribes for a casino yes vote.
DL replying to a comment from K / February 1, 2013 at 10:07 am
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Yes, those three had such vision for the future of Toronto, like planning for increased gridlock and preserving historic buildings. Oh wait...
DL / February 1, 2013 at 10:08 am
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Sorry, but the casino initiative MUST be put to a referendum. This is something the people need to be heard on.
Aaron / February 1, 2013 at 10:12 am
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We can't trust this proposal because Oxford is peddling such obvious lies. There's no way that park over the rail corridor will ever be built. Metrolinx threw a hissy fit over the Puente de Luz, a narrow pedestrian bridge, forcing it to be built too high and out of line because they wouldn't move their signals. The chances of them allowing a whole section of rail corridor to be covered are zero.
steamboat / February 1, 2013 at 10:47 am
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These pics are pure BS. I don't see any seniors with yellow hair smoking butts in those renderings. Every casino I've been to has been dominated by this population.
GRBY / February 1, 2013 at 11:53 am
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Wheres the ferris wheel gonna go?

No, seriously ... these renderings actually look really great. Glass casino's strike me as odd as well. Don't they want you not to know the time of day?

I'm all for opening up the CNE for a Casino. They have space, parking and there's no residents in the immediate area.

Aaron / February 1, 2013 at 02:10 pm
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With only 400+ casinos in North America, this is bound to be a truly MASSIVE tourist draw!
Reginold replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 1, 2013 at 06:00 pm
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Hey iSkyscraper, you do know that the CNE grounds are really close to Parkdale right? Parkdale still being one of the places that some of the city's most vulnerable population in relation to drugs and addiction live....right?

I wouldn't put a Casino there.
Moe Green / February 1, 2013 at 09:52 pm
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This is going to happen.

Very excited.

Way too many positives for this project not to happen.

- Construction jobs
- Full time jobs
- Tourism
- Conferences

All the cons (e.g., drugs, crime, etc.) may raise crime, but downtown is pretty safe as it is, so the increase should be negligible.

Kevin Young / March 20, 2013 at 07:20 am
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We are now the fourth largest city but Chicago has McCormick place, an major convention centre. The casino is a small piece of this development and the least important. If they can build a comparable convention centre, that is what will attract large groups that will increase jobs and tax revenues for the city.

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