Monday, August 23, 2010

One Bloor East / Number One Bloor

It was the scandal everyone was talking about in 2009, the collapse of plans by the Bazis to build a huge skyscraper condo/hotel on the site of One Bloor East. Bazis International is an architectural company from Kazakhstan with strong ties to Toronto in Canada. The company normally builds residential communities, office towers, government buildings, hotels, apartments, theatres, shopping malls, and industrial complexes.

Thus when they announced in 2007 that they were tearing down the old Harvey's and adjoining buildings to build a huge 81-storey condo / hotel, they seemed like the perfect company for the job.

It was to be the most expensive and prestigious condo in Toronto. Rich people were lining up down the street for days just to get a chance to bid on the properties. Fist fights were breaking out and arguments as tempers and patiences became frayed. When they were finally allowed in to bid on some of the condos available the company announced they had doubled all the prices. Even so the condos sold like hot cakes and they were sold out in a matter of days.

The finished building was to have 189 hotel rooms and 612 condominium units. The glass and metal structure would have used the latest environmentally friendly and efficient technology making it one of the greenest condos in Toronto.

But all was not well within Bazis International. They had taken out loans to buy the land in the first place and to deal with construction estimates they decided to shorten the building to 67 floors. The Bazis had purchased the land for $63 million in 2007, but they ended up defaulting on a $46 million loan from investors.

By 2008 the global lending crisis was hitting hard in the USA and investors wanted their money back. They were forced to sell the property and give back the deposits from condo buyers. Bazis sold the property in July 2009 to Great Gulf Homes and the land currently sits empty.

Local high school teacher Stephen Young and a number of friends have since started a Facebook group and a petition promoting the idea that the vacant land be used for a public park... or more precisely "Bloor Yonge Square". But its doubtful the city will come up with $60+ million to buy the land and turn it into a public space.

Great Gulf Homes plans to build a 65-storey condo, using the name "Number One Bloor", and will be designed by Hariri Pontinari Architects. The first 6 floors will include retail space, a mall, a movie theatre multiplex, a cafeteria, restaurants and an outdoor terrace open to the public. The condo will have 687 units. See the architectural renderings below.

Of course such a condo is beyond the means of mere mortals like myself, but one can dream can't they?

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