Toronto’s waterfront real estate scene is making waves — particularly in the commercial realm.
From the introduction of stunning new builds to the presence of swoon-worthy amenities, all of which is underscored by unparalleled access to natural sights and experiences, it’s no mystery why commercial tenants are increasingly looking to the waterfront as the place to set up shop.
But there’s more to this evolution… and to the question of whether or not it’s sustainable as a real estate trend.
To lock down some answers to lingering questions, we’ve tapped the mind of Sean Menkes — Vice President, Office/Retail at Menkes Developments — to learn more about the bustling waterfront scene.
STOREYS: Let’s lay the foundation: what is the main driving force behind the shift from Toronto’s financial core to waterfront properties for commercial real estate?
SM: “I would say it’s more of an expansion of the financial core to include the waterfront, rather than tenants moving from one market to another. We first saw this expansion with the completion of the majority of the buildings in the South Core from 2009 to 2016, and now we are seeing a further expansion to the east. Until recently, there were few options for a company to locate on the waterfront, but that story has changed as a result of the transformation of the eastern waterfront.
Sean Menkes, Vice President Office/Retail, Menkes Developments
Over the last several years, the waterfront established itself as a destination of choice for office tenants for several reasons: a flight to quality in new state-of-the-art office buildings; the appeal of the area’s superior amenities; public realm improvements including parks, bicycle and pedestrian paths; and the benefit of being a short walk from the financial core and Union Station.
Several notable organizations have invested in the neighbourhood such as WPP Plc, MaRS Discovery District/University of Toronto and theScore at the Waterfront Innovation Centre, and Toronto Region Board of Trade and Richardson Wealth at 100 Queens Quay East.”
STOREYS: What makes the commercial experience at the waterfront different from that of the financial core?
SM: “The financial core will always be appealing and a centre of activity, but what it lacks is retail and amenities beyond 9-to-5, Monday to Thursday. The waterfront is active throughout the weekdays and weekends. This is driven by a mix of office workers during the day, residents in the evenings and on weekends, and a heavy dose of tourism added to the mix because of the great parks, including Canada’s Sugar Beach, and access to the Toronto Islands via the nearby Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. This drives improved retail amenities and a dynamic community. One difference that tenants can’t ignore is the opportunity for beachfront office space!
For office tenants on the waterfront, business isn’t restricted …….