This is what Toronto's largest active construction project looks like
As a tidal wave of development crashes over Toronto, it's a pretty colossal mark of distinction to hold the crown of the city's largest (non-infrastructure) construction project.
That's a deserved title for the megacomplex taking shape on a 7.8-acre site situated at Front and Spadina, but there's so much more about the project known as The Well than its gigantic size.
The complex contains seven buildings from a team of five developers and six architects, and will function as both a self-contained community and destination housing a mix of office, rental condominium, retail, and public space, all linked by a stunning open-air retail galleria carved through the heart of the site.
Five years into construction, the complex's 36-storey office tower is preparing to welcome its first tenants and work is fast progressing for the residential buildings and retail galleria to the west.
With the complex now in what should be its final year of construction, blogTO was invited for a sneak peek inside the megaproject to check out some of the retail, food and office spaces that will define the experience at The Well.
At the southeast corner of the development site, the tallest tower is home to the majority of the site's 1.2 million square feet of office space. Tenants will enter through a grand lobby with frontage along Spadina, now getting its finishing touches as the first businesses prepare to move into the tower in the coming weeks.
Office spaces towards the top of the tower have some pretty spectacular views in all directions, but the real standout is the east-facing view towards the heart of the city and CN Tower.
The tower is already 90 per cent leased, with just a fraction of its office space still up for grabs.
Office tenants will also have access to outdoor terraces perched high above the city.
These views will be available to the masses though, as the tower is planned to be topped by a 36th-floor restaurant offering 360-degree views of the city.
Not much is currently known about this 36th-floor restaurant, but if the views from the floors below are any indication, this is sure to be a favourite dining spot for skyline-watchers.
West of the 36-storey office building, residential buildings of 46, 39, 22, 16, 16, and 14 storeys fill out the rest of the block. Though the tallest residential tower indeed has more floors than the office to the east, its shorter floor heights mean it will be the second-tallest on the block.
These buildings will house a combined 1.5 million square feet of residential space, accounting for 1,700 condominium and rental units.
Connecting the office and residential components, the site is bisected by what the project team refers to as a "spine," carving diagonally across the block and housing a sheltered, open-air galleria that will house much of the complex's 320,000 square feet of retail.
This space is shaping up to be a new jewel for the city, functioning more as a sort of multi-storey street than a typical shopping mall, words the developers are careful to avoid when describing the space.
While not fully enclosed, the galleria is sheltered by a stunning 35,000 square foot canopy with almost 2,000 glass panes that will keep shoppers dry in inclement weather. The canopy was actually assembled twice, first put together at its point of manufacturing in Germany before being disassembled and shipped to Canada.
Below the canopy's sculptural form, retail spaces at The Well are now approximately 79 per cent leased or in advanced stages of negotiation, with roughly a year remaining before the retail component's anticipated Spring 2023 opening.
Among the newly-confirmed tenants for the complex, The Well is set to host the first Canadian location of Arcadia Earth, an augmented reality-driven immersive experience that already operates locations in New York and Las Vegas.
Another brand signed on to lease space at The Well is Toronto-based fitness and wellness hub Sweat and Tonic, set to include a whole range of fancy amenities for members such as a cocktail bar, café, lounge spaces, spa services, and a 50-foot lap pool.
Other health and wellness spaces will include a new home for medical/wellness centre HealthOne, as well as a Shoppers Drug Mart. The retail component will also be home to apparel and accessory retailers, including Australian eyewear brand Bailey Nelson.
Food and hospitality will be a key element in making the complex not just a great place to live and work, but a destination drawing in business from the surrounding city.
Plans also include the first Canadian location of NYC-based Prince St. Pizza, a pretty huge announcement sure to be a draw for pizza fans. There will also be an upscale French bistro and a two-storey British-inspired tavern with an old-world aesthetic.
But the real heart of The Well's food scene will be the sprawling Wellington Market, a 70,000 square-foot market that will offer a wide variety of food and beverage. But the real standout of this space is that it will be fully licensed for a 4,200-person capacity, meaning you can walk through the space with an alcoholic beverage in hand.
If that wasn't enough, the market features retractable glass walls that open up to outdoor patio spaces.
Wellington Market's confirmed tenants include La Cubana, Hooky's Fish & Chips, Ren Sushi, a new Korean-focused concept, Chun Yang Tea, Lobster Burger Bar, Rosie's Burgers, Isabella's Mochi Donuts and Sweetie Pie.
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