Superlatives abound: Andaz comes to Yorkville

The One will tower over the Toronto skyscape and will be the tallest building in Canada.
The One will tower over the Toronto skyscape and will be the tallest building in Canada.

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

TORONTO — When the 85-storey structure at One Bloor West in Toronto opens in starting in 2021, it will feature an Andaz Hotel by Hyatt. Called The One, it will be the tallest building in Canada, with a foundation that goes 150 feet underground. 

By 2014, One Bloor West, site of Frank Stollery’s men’s wear from the 1930s until well into this century, had become a highly coveted piece of Toronto real estate. Sam Mizrahi of Mizrahi Developments bought the property. His vision was to turn it into an iconic development that would leave its mark on the city, have an impact on the skyline and take mixed developments in Toronto to the next level.

Mizrahi chose Foster & Partners, whose work includes The Bow building in Calgary, “The Gherkin” in London, U.K. and The Hearst building in New York, as their architects. “Foster & Partners have designed a global collection of iconic buildings, and their vision aligned with ours,” Joshua Lax, Vice-President, Development, at Mizrahi Developments told CLN. 

And that’s how the development of One Bloor West began. It’s a massive undertaking. The foundations run 150 feet deep, right into the bedrock. There are 8 mega columns landing on 30 caissons, each 3 metres (10 feet) in diameter. The pieces of steel for the modular construction each weigh 40 tons. 

Construction has been underway for two years. Right now, the first three of five underground slabs have been completed; the project should reach ground level in October, and after that the 85-storey structure will start to take shape.

The hotel and the retail parts of the complex should open in 2021, while the residences should all be complete by 2023.

The building will have commercial, and residential space, plus a 160-room Andaz Hotel. The hotel and residential units will be in the tower, which has a square base and will have a core with an elevator. The retail spaces will be housed in a rectangular area larger than the base of the tower, and they will be built differently. The current trend in retail construction is to have wide open spaces, uncontaminated by columns or pillars. The retail podium transfers its load to a diagonal steel structure. The result is wide-open, uncluttered space.

“The open-concept design provides a nice opportunity for the lobby for the retail, the residences and the hotel,” said Lax. It will be expansive, open space compared to the cramped lobbies right off the street in many vertical towers. “There’s 10,000 square feet of open space hotel lobby on the fifth floor. Up approximately 100 feet in the air, with 18-foot ceilings, looking south from the tallest building in Canada.

“We see it as a step into the future of what Toronto will be. Twenty years ago, a 20-storey building was considered tall. By the 2000s, it was 40-storeys. Now, Toronto has 50- and 60-storey buildings being developed all around the city; the engineering is better, the buildings are stronger, and our knowledge of building science has vastly improved. There’s limited space to develop in Toronto — with no more parking lots to available — and we need to accommodate the needs of purchasers. There’s a shortage of residential units,” Lax said.

Joshua Lax.
Joshua Lax.

One Bloor West is a true mixed-use space with a garage, retail, food and beverage, event space and the hotel. “The retail will have large anchor flagship stores on the ground floor and the concourse level,” Lax noted. All told, there will be over 40,000 square feet of event space. The hotel will occupy over 100,000 square feet, and the residential will be above that. Inside the hotel will be meeting spaces and one or two restaurants. 

“In the total development, there will be approximately five restaurants and ample meeting and event space,” said Lax. “The idea is for it all to operate as a single entity. If the Andaz is at capacity, for example, guests can use the other event spaces in the complex.”

Why Andaz?

The new Andaz, the second in Canada after Andaz Ottawa Byward Market, will be a five-minute walk to Yorkville. It’s close to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Ceramic Museum, at the corner of Bloor, which is  the key retail street, and Yonge, which stretches down to the financial district. 

“We chose Andaz because of its balance—it’s the right brand to accommodate both families and business travellers. Everyone can feel at home,” said Lax.

Along with this balance, Andaz presents luxury and lifestyle at a level commensurate with the building. And even within the brand, Lax likes the upward direction the Andaz is going, on or above the level of the Andaz that recently opened in Tokyo.

Spaces for residents and guests

The complex will include 8,200 square feet of outdoor space, including a 2,000 square foot pool, 100 feet in the air.  There will be two restaurants, a wine bar, gyms, a spa and an outdoor deck. “It’s an urban oasis. You will forget you’re in Toronto,” Lax said.

He explained the construction. “The podium is a rectangle; the tower is a square. The L-shape, where the tower meets the podium, is the deck. It will be a special space for residents and guests.”

There are a number of advantages to having guests and residents share the amenities, Lax noted. The first is sheer volume. “With a building of this size, we can offer higher quality amenities. Residents benefit from having full bar and restaurant service, gyms that offer classes, access to the spa, and lots of other perks—things usually found in a hotel, not in most residences.”

Residential pricing

The residences still available range in price from $2.1 million to $24 million for the one remaining penthouse of the four originally available. The complex is 78 per cent sold. The smallest available unit is 1,350 square feet, while the penthouses are 6,000 square feet.