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25 Liberty Gives The Village A Vital Injection Of New Office

Toronto Office

The Fueling Station just launched 25 Liberty, a heritage-infused development that’ll provide a welcome injection of new office space for Liberty Village. Bisnow met up with the project team to learn more. 

We snapped Fueling Station managing director Rod Bell (right) with Sweeny&Co Architects principal Dermot Sweeny and JLL EVP Doug Hitchcox at Dermot’s office at QRC West (an award-winning project his firm designed). Rod tells us 25 Liberty, integrating a historic factory into a LEED Platinum complex with 273k SF of office (11-foot ceilings) and 27k SF of retail, provides sorely needed space for creative and tech firms looking to locate in Liberty Village, where there’s a 2% vacancy rate. “Companies have had to leave because there’s no inventory bigger than 5k SF.”

Rod’s company, a collaborative workspace provider with two other properties in Liberty Village, acquired 25 Liberty with partners in 2014. Initially the plan was only to reno the existing 72k SF structure. But Rod says the site’s centre ice location (at Atlantic Avenue and Liberty Street), plus the steady parade of condo projects that have brought 40,000 Millennials into the area with no corresponding uptick in employment space, compelled them to do something more spectacular. Sweeny&Co—whose CV includes One York, TELUS House, AeroCentre V and Spectrum SQ, plus QRC West—is equal to the task.

The new glass-and-steel structure will be built around and cantilevered over the heritage building, creating several outdoor terraces. The two sections are tied by a 70-foot-high atrium. The design of 25 Liberty is inspired by its industrial roots (there'll be no T-bar ceilings in the office and structural elements will be left exposed), but also state-of-the-art, with sensor-driven LED lighting, floor-to-ceiling vision glass, operable windows, and raised pressurized floors for HVAC and plug-and-play wiring (curbing churn costs). “It will speak to a friendly future, but allow you to engage with it as you might an old industrial building," Dermot says.

There’ll be 18k SF of retail on 25 Liberty’s ground floor, with additional showroom or office space on the second level. Retail possibilities include a restaurant, café or bar. The building's a short stroll to a GO Transit station (at the end of Atlantic Avenue), but will have underground parking, too. Doug says the project—aimed at maximizing employee health and productivity—has fellow brokers buzzing, and his team wants to secure an anchor who’ll take 40% or more of the 300k SF. “They get to name the building” and guide design decisions. The project is slated for 2019 completion

Rod points out half of 25 Liberty's ownership group is based in Silicon Valley, where Liberty Village is regarded as Toronto’s tech hub. “They see the potential for this building to attract companies they’ve funded or worked with down there.” Also chair of the Liberty Village BIA, Rod is bullish on the rapidly evolving area. He says 25 Liberty’s draw will be enhanced by a new road planned for along the rail corridor (from Strachan Avenue to Dufferin Street) and a stop on the regional express rail network. “There’s going to be lots of positive transition in Liberty.”