Vancouver-based developer Westbank selected for landmark University of Toronto redevelopment

Apr 21 2023, 4:10 am

Westbank has been selected by the University of Toronto as the real estate development partner of The Gateway project redevelopment at the St. George campus in downtown Toronto.

The university recently announced the Vancouver-based developer will design and build the redevelopment of the 4.1-acre lot at the southeast corner of the intersection of Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue.

The lot is currently occupied by low-rise residential buildings and heritage structures containing the Department of Sociology and the University of Toronto Schools (grades 7-12 secondary school), which is not part of the redevelopment.

This will be a high-density, mixed-use development with significant housing for faculty, staff, and student families, as well as academic space and ancillary retail opportunities.

“The Gateway will significantly address the university’s strong demand for housing, advancing the academic mission by adding hundreds of new units to the campus and to downtown Toronto,” said Scott Mabury, vice-president of operations and real estate partnerships for the University of Toronto, in a statement

“We are thrilled to partner with a team so well aligned with the university’s values, with further expertise in design and construction and a solid track record in stakeholder engagement and positive city building.”

university of toronto westbank gateway project bloor spadina

The southeast corner of the intersection of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue; the northeasternmost corner of the University of Toronto campus. (Google Maps)

As the name suggests, The Gateway project is intended to be a showcase project, given its highly prominent location at the northwesternmost corner of the campus.

The redevelopment is envisioned to be “a seamless and dynamic gateway between the university and the city” with “inspiring architecture and design excellence.” It will also include sustainable design, energy conservation, energy infrastructure improvements, integration with heritage, and animation of the public realm.

“We saw an opportunity to create an inspiring faculty and student family housing project that will incorporate a high degree of innovation in its response to climate change and a level of city building that the University of Toronto consistently strives to achieve,” said Ian Gillespie, founder and CEO of Westbank.

“We look forward to working with the University of Toronto to create not only a new gateway into its campus, but a gateway to more inclusive, low-carbon city-building.”

Westbank was selected by the university from a shortlist through a bidding process led by commercial real estate firm CBRE. The separate procurement process for architectural firms is also now underway.

During the previous procurement process for a development partner, CBRE’s listing suggested The Gateway could accommodate two towers with a total floor area of about 960,000 sq ft, including 740,000 sq ft of university housing and resident amenities, and 220,000 sq ft of academic space and retail. There would also be new public spaces at street level.

The location is of course well-served by public transit — adjacent to the Spadina subway station (Line 1 and 2), and streetcar and bus routes.

Although Westbank is based in Vancouver, its presence in Toronto is growing — best known for projects such as Shangri-La Toronto, the nearby Mirvish Village, which will reach full completion this year, and the under-construction King Toronto, which will reach completion in 2024.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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