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Sugar Wharf To Create Downtown Waterfront Community

Not too long ago, the idea of creating a family-friendly community in downtown Toronto would have seemed a little crazy. Who wants to raise a family amid the office towers and space-challenged high-rise condos?

Times have changed.

The finished Sugar Wharf will feature five condo towers, a mid-rise rental building, a park and a public school.

“People come to this city and they see how alive it is in the downtown and on the waterfront and the financial district,” Mayor John Tory said at the recent groundbreaking for the first phase of Sugar Wharf, a five-condo community to be built on 4.7 hectares on Toronto’s waterfront

“It’s because you’ve had pioneers who said they are going to take a risk on coming south of Front Street and creating jobs near where people live and near where they work. People who live downtown — 40% of them walk to work.”

While it may be the millennial dream to live and work downtown, the dream of a detached home can be out of reach for a young family in the GTA, where homes have topped $1M. Recent StatsCan figures show the number of families living in condos rose 9% since 2011. In Toronto’s downtown, 66% of households with children now live in mid- or high-rise buildings. 

“This property represented an unprecedented opportunity to create a multi-dimensional live-work-play community,” Menkes Development Ltd. President of the High Rise Residential Division Alan Menkes said at the groundbreaking. Menkes plans to build the project on Queens Quay land purchased from the Ontario government last year.

“Toronto has a thriving downtown, and people want to live here. We are seeing increasing demand for condominiums from all segments of the market from first-time buyers to families with children to empty nesters,” he said. 

Groundbreaking for the new LCBO office building at 100 Queens Quay: Menkes Development's Steven Menkes, City Councillor Lucy Troisi, Menkes Development's Alan Menkes, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, LCBO's George Soleas, Menkes Development's Peter Menkes, Greystone Managed Investments' Ted Welter and Triovest's Vince Brown

The project, which will begin with a 25-storey, 695K SF office building at 100 Queens Quay East that will house the LCBO headquarters, will eventually include five condo towers varying in height from 64 to 90 storeys. Add to that a mid-rise rental building and 300K SF of commercial retail space, including a grocery store and a new flagship LCBO store. 

In keeping with the community approach, Sugar Wharf plans to build a two-acre park and a public school on the first three floors of the project's commercial podium.

"It’s going to be a magnificent hub coming forward,” Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa said at the groundbreaking. “More importantly, [7,000] to 8,000 more people will be housed at this location — be it residents, schools or businesses.”

A lack of schools has been a problem for condo community projects in the downtown. As the population has grown and condo developments have multiplied, finding a nearby school has proven difficult. 

That might be changing. Earlier this year, just to the west, the new CityPlace neighbourhood broke ground on two public schools, as well as a child care and community centre. 

“There are actually families moving back to this part of the city who need schools for their kids,” Tory said. “And when you think about that for a minute, that’s very exciting, too.”

Transit is another issue with downtown development. A new TTC line and a connection to the downtown PATH system is planned for Sugar Wharf. The city has secured a commitment from the federal government for waterfront transit.

Menkes President of Commercial/Industrial Division Peter Menkes talks to Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa following the groundbreaking at 100 Queens Quay.

Sousa said the money from the sale of the LCBO land last year has already been earmarked.

“$260M have been garnered through this transaction, which was fully put forward into the Trillium Trust. It’ll allow us now to invest dollar for dollar in greater infrastructure, in more public transit, in more investments to the city of Toronto,” he said. 

Though the construction and completion of the next phase of the Sugar Wharf project is still years off, Tory did not pass up an opportunity at the groundbreaking to get the ball rolling. 

“I don’t want to be presumptuous, minister, but if we could just move forward with the transit to better serve this area here. That will require a very modest additional sum,” he joked.