A sneak peek at what’s going into the city’s historic Waterworks building on Richmond Street West

A sneak peek at what’s going into the city’s historic Waterworks building on Richmond Street West

King West has seen its share of splashy restaurant openings, but few can rival the scope of the 20,000-square-foot food hall revealed as part of the new plans for the historic Waterworks site at 505 Richmond St. W. The property takes up half a block, from Brant Street to Maud Street, and its history dates back to 1837, when it was home to St. Andrew’s Market, once the city’s third largest public market. It cycled through subsequent periods as a police station, library and community hall, and finally, a City of Toronto Water Works facility. And yet, no one ever notices it. “We’ve driven by it thousands of times, but all we see is a blank wall against a park,” says developer Gary Switzer of the Art Deco-designed heritage site. Soon, the abandoned building and its attached industrial garage will be transformed into a horseshoe-shaped 13-storey neighbourhood hub, complete with a food hall, boutique condos, a rooftop garden and a new fully-outfitted YMCA, all connected to St. Andrew’s Playground. Here’s a closer look at how the complex will be brought back to life by Woodcliffe Landmark Properties and MOD Developments, the masterminds behind the heritage restoration of North Toronto railway station (a.k.a. Summerhill LCBO) and a row of storefronts at Yonge and St. Joseph, respectively.

The brains—MOD Developments president Noorez Lalani, Woodcliffe Landmark Properties CEO and president Eve Lewis and MOD Developments CEO Gary Switzer—behind the new vision for the 1930s era public utilities building:


The industrial garage’s long skylights and bricked-up windows will be restored for the food hall, which will most closely resemble Amsterdam’s iconic Foodhallen, with both vendors and sit-down restaurants and an opening onto St. Andrew’s Playground. “It will offer an eclectic mix of food from around the world,” says Lalani. “We’d like to see people roaming around, looking for oysters and dim sum, while enjoying champagne”:


Here’s a rendering of what the food hall might look like when it’s complete:

food hall

This parking lot will be demolished to make way for an interior courtyard surrounded by street-level retail and restaurants. Office workers on Spadina Avenue can walk down and access the food hall through a carriageway entrance with a walkway on Richmond Street West, between Brant Street and Camden Street (left):


Sitting atop the original Waterworks, the Diamond Schmitt-designed building will include 290 condominium units, 15 of which will be affordable housing run by Artscape for artists and their families. Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth will also be on site. Residents will enjoy two private rooftop terraces, on the fourth and 14th floors:


Inside the sales centre on Maud Street is a mock suite with drywall ceiling and pot lights. It’s meant, Lewis says, “to feel like a really cool boutique hotel”:


Buyers can choose from around 70 different floor plans for one- to three-bedroom suites, with interiors designed by Cecconi Simone—think five-star luxury touches, like a hybrid kitchen table-work station and vanity with built-in storage:


Residential units range in price from $375,000 to more than $4 million, and in size from 550 to 2,500 square feet. And yes, some of them will have dens, and the majority a terrace:


MOD Developments and Woodcliffe Landmark Properties will work with the City of Toronto to expand St. Andrew’s Playground by 25 per cent. The current parking lot will be removed to make way for tables and chairs, so people can eat in the park. “We’d like it to be more than just a park, not just for kids and dog-walkers, but also the heart and soul of the community, where people hang out after grabbing a bite, kind of like New York’s Bryant Park,” says Switzer:


Here’s what that might look like:


Condo-dwellers will enter through this entrance on Richmond Street West, only the number 511 will be replaced with 505, but the Art Deco exterior from the building’s construction in 1932 will stay. It will also be enhanced with a black canopy:


Next door will be the entrance of the 54,000-square-foot YMCA, separated by landscape design by Janet Rosenberg & Studio. There will be a big staircase leading to the 25-metre swimming pool, track, gymnasium, fitness studios, conditioning room and community rooms occupying two floors. Construction for this new development will begin in summer 2017, and if all goes well, everything should be open by 2020, when the population in King West is expected to balloon to 40,000: