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Developers envision mixed-use neighbourhood on site of Globe HQ

The developers who bought the land that The Globe and Mail’s Toronto headquarters sits on will soon be filing plans with the city for the creation of a new neighbourhood that they are calling “The Well.”

HARIRI PONTARINI ARCHITECTS

The developers who bought the land that The Globe and Mail's Toronto headquarters sits on will soon be filing plans with the city for the creation of a new neighbourhood that they are calling "The Well."

If the $1.4-billion project is approved, the site, which stretches across nearly eight acres west of Spadina Avenue, between Front Street and Wellington Street, would be home to seven buildings. More than half of the development would be retail and office space, including restaurants and entertainment venues, and a little less than half would be residential. The latter would likely include both condos and rental apartments, as well as some townhouse units. One of the buildings would be a 34-storey office tower.

The property's owners are RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, which specializes in shopping centres and retail projects; Allied Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, an office developer; and Diamond Corp., which focuses on residential development. Some of the buildings on the site would incorporate all three uses.

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"I don't think there has been a new community built in the city with that kind of mix in many, many years," says Steve Diamond, the CEO of Diamond Corp.

The team flew to England about a year ago to study projects such as Butler's Wharf in London for inspiration.

"In England they've done a good job of creating complex mixed-use projects that are pedestrian-friendly," Mr. Diamond said.

All of the parking on the Toronto site would be underground, and the proposal features wide sidewalks as well as a park dubbed Wellington Plaza. The plans changed over time as the developers met with local residents, who were worried about the implications for the area.

The developers are just beginning to market the location, and are looking to attract a range of retailers including lifestyle stores, grocery stores, restaurants and smaller department stores. Mr. Diamond said the Concord Adex project (CityPlace) to the south of "The Well" has brought an abundance of residential space to the area without any significant office or retail component.

He said he hopes that Toronto residents will see the site as a unique neighbourhood, "and say 'let's go for a drink in The Well.' "

The developers will need permission from Metrolinx, the regional transit authority, to put in a walkway that it envisions on the south side of Front Street. As they seek to win over the city, the project's backers are emphasizing that the new office space could provide a location for about 4,000 jobs and the retail space, more than 1,000. If approved, construction would begin in 2016 and take five to seven years to complete.

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