Construction of a large Las Vegas-style casino on a sprawling parcel of property in the east end of the City of Pickering is moving along and should be completed by spring.
The 330,000-square-foot gambling venue, aptly named Pickering Casino Resort, is being built by One Toronto Gaming and is expected to open in April.
The casino, designed by CDA in association with CGL, will feature 2,350 slot machines, 100 live table games and dining and entertainment facilities. An adjoining five-star, 225-room hotel and concert venue with 2,500 seats is expected to open in the fall.
It is all part of the first phase of a $2-billion, 240-acre, multi-use development known as Durham Live. The vision is for the area to become the premier entertainment, recreation and tourism district east of Yonge Street in Toronto.
The second phase of the venture will include 150,000 square feet of restaurants or food offerings, another 350-room hotel with a 100,000-square-foot convention centre, and 250,000 square feet of film studios to be operated by TriBro Studios. It will be the first purpose-built studio district in the region.
“Upon full build-out, the film studios will be the largest of its kind in Canada,” notes Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan. “In addition to filming and production, there will be post-production facilities as well. I can foresee the TriBro film studios becoming one of the main arts, cultural and filming hubs in the province.”
Phase three of venture will be a market area with 350,000 square feet of retail space. A fourth phase will include ice rinks and an indoor water park. There will also be VIP cinemas and a golf course.
The broader Durham Live development is being undertaken by Pickering Developments, part of the Triple Group of Companies.
The casino itself, once complete, will employ more than 2,500 workers. Durham Live is expected to create another 7,500 jobs.
The architects have designed the casino as a new and modern complex for guests of all demographics. A grand lobby will link the casino, hotel, performance venue, and restaurants.
The project site, along Church Street South in the east end of Pickering, is just south of Highway 401. Heavy equipment has been on site since last summer when construction crews began work on the project.
Ryan says the Durham Live site is of “critical importance” to Pickering, as it will create jobs and spur an economic renewal of the city.
“From a tourism perspective, Durham Live has the potential to be one of Ontario’s top-five tourism destinations. Tourist dollars are a direct adrenaline shot into the local economy.
“The economic spin offs will benefit those shops and businesses outside of the site as well. Further, Durham Live will act as a magnet for visitors and help promote other tourist attractions across Durham Region.”
In addition to jobs, the project has the capacity to contribute about $1.3 billion in incremental annual GDP to the area and more than $625 million in annual property tax revenues, according to an economic impact study. Based on the size and scale of the casino, host payments to Pickering are expected to be about $20 million or more per year upon full development.
Ryan says money the city receives through a revenue-sharing agreement with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., will be invested into key Pickering projects which should help ease the tax burden on residents.
In addition, the city has also agreed to share a percentage of the revenues with the Region of Durham for infrastructure.
A master plan was developed for the site by SvN that considered the potential of introducing residential uses in the area over the long term with central green space for recreation.
The venue is characterized by a provincially-significant wetland in the centre of the site and major architectural features will be clustered around the area, allowing the broad open space to be visible from inside the buildings.
Ryan says the region will be one of the major growth centres in Canada, as Durham Live is just one of many developments planned for the city. Pickering’s downtown is also slated to undergo a major transformation.
The city will be partnering with Cushman & Wakefield to redevelop a portion of Pickering’s town centre site. The company is planning to build two condominium towers with ground-floor retail on the property.
A new arts centre, senior/youth centre and central library are also slated to be built at Pickering Town Centre.
“We want to create an urban, walkable, bustling, and sustainable downtown where people can live, work, play, and learn,” says Ryan. “Keep in mind, our new downtown will have a direct connection via the landmark pedestrian bridge to the Pickering GO station, making it accessible to all parts of the GTA.”
The new developments, both at the Durham Live site and downtown, will have traffic impacts, but Ryan says improvements such as road widenings and intersection changes are planned for various streets around the site.
The city is also in discussions with the province about a Highway 401 interchange with direct access to the Durham Live site, and there may also be an opportunity to build a GO station at the site.