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Toronto mixed-use build unites storied past with present

Patricia Williams
Toronto mixed-use build unites storied past with present

Real estate developer Davpart Inc. has unveiled plans for an ambitious mixed-use project at 481 University Ave. in downtown Toronto that includes the restoration of the existing heritage building at the site.

The United Building development will house 224,245 square feet of commercial office space and 39,320 square feet of retail space from the ground floor to the 10th floor in the restored structure.

A new, contemporary 45-storey residential highrise condominium tower will rise above the storied heritage building, located at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Dundas Street West.

“The United Building is a brilliant example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts and will stand as a new landmark in Toronto’s architectural landscape,” Davpart president and CEO David Hofstedter said at a March 26 news briefing in Toronto.

The proposed United Building development at 481 University Ave. in downtown Toronto will include a mix of commercial and retail space as well as a contemporary 45-storey condominium tower. The existing heritage structure on the site will be restored as part of the project. The developer is Toronto-headquartered Davpart Inc.
DAVPART INC. — The proposed United Building development at 481 University Ave. in downtown Toronto will include a mix of commercial and retail space as well as a contemporary 45-storey condominium tower. The existing heritage structure on the site will be restored as part of the project. The developer is Toronto-headquartered Davpart Inc.

The project is being undertaken by a team that includes prime consultant and design architects B+H Architects and heritage consultants ERA Architects Inc.

Hofstedter said the building, which is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, is “steeped in history” having housed Maclean Publishing and later Maclean-Hunter from 1910 to the 1980s.

Maclean-Hunter grew to become the largest Canadian publisher of trade journals as well as national publications including Maclean’s and Chatelaine magazines, and the Financial Post newspaper.

In developing the project, Davpart took pains to respect Maclean’s contributions to Canadian history and culture and the building that housed it for so many years.

“In order to realize our vision, we had to rezone the property within the context of preserving and restoring the existing building,” Hofstedter said. “The complexities are enormous.”

The United Building is thought to be North America’s tallest architectural heritage retention development.

In an interview following the briefing, Mark Berest, a principal in B+H Architects, said rezoning has been approved to accommodate the development.

“We’re now in the midst of the site plan approvals process,” he said, noting that Davpart hopes to start construction in March 2020.

A construction manager will be retained in the future.

Davpart is a full-service real estate investment and property management company established in 1993. It is headquartered in Toronto.

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