For years the City-owned Waterworks Building at 505 Richmond St. W. has sat vacant, an Art Deco hidden gem awaiting a developer with vision. It found two in MOD Developments and Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, which recently revealed plans for a mixed-use revamp of the Waterworks Building.
The 1932 industrial edifice will be transformed into a 13-storey community hub with a 299-unit condo building added on top and a food hall inspired by ones the development team visited in New York, Amsterdam and Madrid. There will also be restaurants and patios along Richmond, plus a full-service YMCA on floors two and three of the new building. Artscape will operate 15 affordable housing units for low-income families.
The repurposed industrial space will be made more porous, with bricked-in windows reopened and boarded-up skylights reglazed. The new building will provide a connection from Richmond through to St. Andrews Playground to the south, which will be expanded 25 per cent as part of the redevelopment.
“This should set a precedent for how we do development in our city,” said local councillor Joe Cressy, who emceed an on-site event Sept. 10 to preview the project.
Cressy noted the development partners have come together to build a neighbourhood, not just another condo.
This is what city building is all about.
MOD is the developer behind Massey Tower and Five St. Joseph; Woodcliffe redeveloped heritage properties such as The Shops of Summerhill and Market Street. They acquired the 1.3-acre site from Build Toronto.
The Waterworks redevelopment will be a welcome addition to a rapidly expanding area. Councillor Cressy noted the King-Spadina node had a population of 945 in 1996; 20 years later it’s 30,000 and rising fast. But no new community centre or parks have been added in that time. “If you’re going to build a community,” he said, “social infrastructure is critical, particularly if you want families to live downtown.”
Mayor John Tory, who dropped by the project preview, praised the plans. “This is a beacon for a different way of doing things.”