Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] "North of Toronto, a new downtown sprouts in suburban Vaughan"

The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports on the attempt to develop a dense downtown in the suburban city of Vaughan just north of Toronto.

If Vaughan's urban planners manage to pull this off, this would be pretty remarkable. (If.)

KPMG is set to become the main tenant in an office tower in the heart of Vaughan’s bustling downtown. The only catch is that the downtown doesn’t exist yet.

The space around the proposed KPMG Tower looks like a largely vacant pocket of suburbia just north of Toronto.

[. . .]

“We looked at a variety of locations across the northern corridor, but really the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre was able to offer everything that we were looking for, particularly central access through the subway and growth in the business community,” said Beth Wilson, GTA managing partner at KPMG. Construction on the building is to start within the year.

If the ambitious vision for the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) comes to fruition, the expanse of land surrounding the future site of the 15-storey KPMG tower will soon sprout a densely packed urban core where people can live, work, shop and play.

The tower site sits on land that’s owned by Calloway Real Estate Investment Trust and SmartCentres, two firms that have specialized in Wal-Mart-anchored shopping centres, making this an unusual project for them. They’ve been talking about it for years but just agreed last fall on final terms to jointly own and develop 53 acres that they describe as being at centre ice of the VMC.

Key to the project is an 8.6-kilometre subway extension that is under construction (with $2.6-billion of funds from various levels of government) that will connect the VMC, via a new subway station near the KPMG tower, to downtown Toronto’s Union Station. The extension is scheduled for completion in late 2016.

“It must be one of the most unusual projects in the country in that there is this enormous tract of undeveloped land with a subway coming up right in the middle of it,” said Don Schmitt, a principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects who is working with Calloway and SmartCentres. “You’re really designing a piece of the city from first principles, from scratch.”
Tags: cities, toronto, urban note
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