Think back only a few short years ago, even only one decade ago, and Yonge and Gerrard didn’t exactly conjure up the more appealing of images. As part of the sort of shabby section of Yonge street with a surface parking lot on one side (where the 79 storey Aura Condos now stands), some run down nic-naks stores on the other, and the real only beacon being the Elephant and Castle pub, this intersection would hardly be considered “prime”. But with the rise in prominence of Yonge Street now as a growing mecca of modern condos and slowly cleaned-up shops, it obviously wouldn’t be long before a great new towering project would hit the south east corner.
Enter the two-tower monster YSL Residences project designed by Quadrangle Architects for the site, along with a cool sky bridge feature linking the 62 and 73 storey buildings. As if Aura didn’t already provide enough height for the area, these two new neighbouring buildings will certainly strike anyone as bold in design as well as size, and add to the tall density of the area so that Aura doesn’t feel as “lonely” between the massive size of buildings in the financial district and those in the Yorkville area, such as the Four Seasons, One Bloor and the upcoming The One.
The new design will stretch quite a north-south distance along on the east side of Yonge Street, revitalizing the retail and commercial space with a mix of restored heritage buildings and modern cubic boxes set at various spacing. It’s a fun and playful addition to the streetscape that I believe will liven and improve this stretch of Yonge Street tremendously.
And I can’t help but notice that in all of the renderings, Yonge Street has been reduced to two lanes, down from four lanes, with a widened sidewalk area. Is this a sign of things to come? I’d also love to see this come true too, as the pedestrian traffic in the area often over-shines the vehicle traffic at many times of the day.