EDITOR'S PICK | 118 Views | Nov 19 2019, 03:12am

The Reinvention of Yonge and St Clair

Kaisa Lagerstrand

Sales Representative

"Bringing high integrity and passion back into commercial real estate."

     As Toronto expands its edges, the Yonge and St. Clair corridor has garnered a reputation of being an in-between kind of neighbourhood that is safe and quiet, but still genuinely urban. With Slate Asset Management coming into a unique multi-ownership position, possessing the buildings at all four corners of Yonge and St. Clair, a revitalization has gone underway to create a newly updated and unified community of office users, retailers, business owners and local residents. Thus, this unique and rare opportunity to reinvent the neighbourhood offers Slate the flexibility to reconfigure, reimagine and redefine the sleepy midtown spot.

 

An aerial photo of Yonge and St. Clair.

 

     Yonge and St. Clair is distinctively urban, but much calmer than Yonge and Bloor, and not quite as grand as Yonge and Eglinton, with their many office towers and luxury retail stores. This area is not top of mind when we talk about the ‘coolest’ neighbourhoods – in comparison to King Street West, or Kensington Market. Whether it’s due to the lack of trendy restaurants or popular retail stores in the area, Yonge and St. Clair has been overlooked for decades before Slate’s recent acquisition and redevelopment. (TheStar) However, this wasn’t always the case. The area was once regarded in the 1970’s and 1980’s as a vibrant uptown centre of fashionable fur coats, theaters, top restaurants, martini drinking and the home of Glenn Gould (National Post). Over time, one thing hasn’t changed; it has always been the gateway to some of Toronto’s most prominent neighbourhoods, an important transit hub for the city, and has remained historically important.

 

The Hollywood Theatre at Yonge and St. Clair, seen in this 1959 archival photo, was the first cinema in Toronto to accommodate “talking pictures.”



     While Yonge and St. Clair may have all of the ingredients to become a neighbourhood that is again a destination in and of itself, the neighbourhood has not - until recently, undergone the facelift necessary to create a thriving sense of community. With the addition of new chic retailers, trendy restaurants and mixed-use developments, the formerly sleepy corner has become almost unrecognizable. The unified vision has produced renovations to public spaces, refacing of the old 60 & 70’s grey office towers, along with a major update to their online digital presence. The public space at Yonge and St. Clair was first modified in 2016 when Slate commissioned a large piece of artwork on the side of the 12-storey Padulo building at 1 St. Clair Avenue West (at the southwest corner of the intersection). Artist Phlegm created a distinctive 8-storey black-and-white mural of a human body composed of iconic Toronto landmarks that is visible from blocks away. According to Katie Fong, a director at Slate, the mural was an initial step to show the community that changes to the area were happening quickly, and that they’d be substantial. (Bisnow)

 

An eight-storey mural by street artist Phlegm, on the west-facing side of Slate-owned 1 St. Clair W.
 

     With the reinvention of Yonge and St. Clair, and office space performing well in the area, should more substantial landlords and developers consider the whole Slate renovation as a successful undertaking? The answer is yes. Cluster ownership has allowed Slate to make quick decisions to add creative change, and focus on making the intersection better. Cluster ownership has also allowed for more flexibility when dealing with their office and retail tenants. (Renx) For a livelier community; residents, tourists and office nodes alike are looking for unity, diversity and experience driven spaces which Slate is able to curate and provide here. While cluster ownership is a rare and costly path to take for a landlord, the benefits are met with a chance to create and re-imagine something better. Bringing the city of Toronto a more unified tenant and consumer experience at Yonge and St. Clair.

 

Kaisa Lagerstrand

Sales Representative

"Bringing high integrity and passion back into commercial real estate."

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Edited by: Linh Nguyen