Toronto’s development boom continues despite COVID-19

by CREW24 Jun 2020

Despite barriers caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Toronto’s mega-development boom continues to reshape downtown Toronto as the city goes vertical. Construction sites that had been halted due to COVID-19 are back in operation, cranes that had been idled are now up and running, and workers are taking a ‘full-steam ahead’ approach as the summer construction season begins.

Real estate developers continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on their projects, while also looking ahead for new, innovative ways to incorporate more green space and other living conditions conducive to social distancing practices -- for instance, working from and spending more time at home.

At the site of the in-development megatower The One, President of Mizrahi Developments, Sam Mizrahi, says the pandemic has given him and his team plenty of time to think, plan ahead and incorporate a new way of living into his construction projects, both at The One and at his Ottawa project, 1451 Wellington.

“Both of these buildings will be constructed to enhance the resident’s world inside and to be safe and inspiring should an unfortunate pandemic happen again. Hopefully it won’t, but if it does our buildings will be well prepared well in advance,” Sam Mizrahi notes.

On the corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets, which is the site of The One, crews have already made plans for wider sidewalks at street level and will incorporate green spaces inside of the building in order to promote social distancing and healthy living.

In addition to these features, Mizrahi adds: “ … now we are implementing technological and valet services for The One, and for our building at 1451 Wellington in Ottawa, that would incorporate pandemic measures that would keep residents safe, healthy, inspired, productive and restored (for example, to start, social distancing measures in place for valet parking and security for the building, all health and gym areas have required social distancing of all equipment and proper hygiene standards, security will monitor health and wellness protocols to include thermal scanners for fever detection in the public areas of the building, that will be built into the security cameras).”

Mizrahi and his team continue to drive forward their milestone project, The One, with Mizrahi Developments most recently announcing that it had entered into an agreement with Hyatt Hotels Corporation to build a luxury Andaz hotel in the tower.

Upon completion, The One, which will be Canada’s first supertall (300+ m) skyscraper, will also feature high-end retail (including an anchor tenant that will occupy 17,000 square feet of corner retail space) restaurants and a condominium tower (with multi-level penthouses).

The 85-storey residential and retail tower designed by Foster + Partners will feature a signature hybrid exoskeleton, an architectural element which will place the bulk of The One’s structural support system on the tower's exterior. This, in turn, will allow for the construction of wide-open, naturally-lit floor plans in the building’s interior.

If navigating through coronavirus-related red tape is any indication of Mizrahi’s drive to keep the project on schedule, today at-grade construction on The One is near completion, as is work to the underground of the building.

The developer behind The One clarifies the current status of the project, “Our construction site was closed during the COVID-19 requirements, as legislated under law, but now under the new guidelines we have resumed construction, adhering to the regulation safety guidelines for our workers and moving forward to make up for the downtime.”

Mizrahi says the process of obtaining above grade permits are underway for the erection of the superstructure above ground --- welcome news for Sam Mizrahi and his team.

In terms of sales for The One, Sam Mizrahi says things are not slowing down, “We are currently over 77 per cent pre-sold in our residential condos and we are 100 per cent fully leased on our commercial retail.”

Despite the pandemic, Mizrahi says the luxury real estate market has remained strong. One reason --- supply and demand for luxury living has not been altered.

“Toronto is still one of the key immigration centres in Canada with over 125,000+ immigrants calling Toronto home every year and there is still a shortage of condo units to meet this demand, especially in the high-end luxury condo market.”

As far as altering blueprints to accommodate a post-coronavirus pandemic style of living, Mizrahi says developers may see heightened demand for more home office space.

“Our team of architects, constructors, engineers and so on will be continuously reviewing what those requirements are going to look like,” explains Mizrahi.

Although the future of the pandemic is unclear, one thing is certain; expanded immigration and a growing tech industry, among other factors, have fueled a condominium boom in Toronto. There are 400 proposed high-rise projects in the pipeline and the city has the most construction cranes in North America.

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