Urban Toronto ( View Original )

Adding 35,000 ft² of new space to the retail complex at Bay and Bloor, a $100 million redevelopment of Toronto’s Manulife Centre has been announced. The expanded—and extensively reconfigured— retail podium will also be home to Canada’s first Eataly location, with the enormously popular Italian food market set to occupy a 50,000 ft² space.

Targeting an anticipated completion date of early 2019, construction of the re-imagined Manulife Centre is set to begin early next year. Currently home to over 40 retailers, the Manulife Centre’s renovations will see existing commercial space reconfigured as an additional two-storey retail area is added. Designed by New York’s MdeAS in collaboration with Toronto’s B+H Architects, the re-imagined complex’s exterior will be reworked to introduce a glassy new frontage—replacing the existing paved forecourts—to engage Bloor Street.

Founded in Turin in 2007, the international Italian food market—which now includes locations in New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Seoul, and Dubai—will feature a prominent Bloor Street frontage (above). Like Eataly’s other locations, the food hall will combine elements of a boutique supermarket with lunch counters and kiosks.

The brand’s first Canadian location is being developed as a joint venture with the Selfridges Group and Toronto’s Terroni Restaurants. According to a recent news release, Eataly Toronto will also “feature elements created distinctly for the city and its people,” with the design and programming promising to—in some way—reflect the local context.

According to developer Manulife Real Esate’s CEO Kevin Adolphe, “[t]he transformation of this landmark property and the modernization at the corner of Bloor and Bay will build on the tremendous changes that are taking place in Yorkville.” With the complex set to become more closely integrated with the ‘Mink Mile’ character of Bloor Street’s high-end shopping strip, Adolphe touts the revamped Manulife Centre as “a premier shopping experience” with “some of the most exciting dining in the city.”

Completed in 1974, the Manulife Centre was designed by the Toronto firm of Clifford and Lawrie Architects. In the four decades, since, the complex has been a prominent and unique aesthetic presence in Yorkville, with the Globe and Mail’s recently departed John Bentley Mays arguing that “Hogtown would be poorer without… the massive, glowering Manulife Centre.” The complex will remain, but—from the street level, at least—that massive, glowering presence will be experienced differently.