A partnership between Hullmark, a world-class Toronto real estate investment and development firm, and BGO, a leading global real estate investment manager, is planning to develop a massive, unique, mixed-use, community-driven neighbourhood for the Beltline Yards in Toronto.
Beltline Yards is Hullmark’s first master-planned community and Toronto’s newest landmark destination. This almost 1.7 million-square-foot development owned in partnership with Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, an institutional investor with BGO, will be designed by world-renowned architects, Allies and Morrison.
Situated along Toronto’s York Beltline Trail where it connects with two transit corridors, Beltline Yards will set a new standard for mixed-use developments in Canada, combining housing in a layered family of buildings, dedicated rental housing, unique retail opportunities, extensive parkland, and maker-focused light industry.
“We have been inspired by the York Beltline Trail and the Toronto Beltline Railway, and the incredible opportunity we now have to complete the vision in a modern context. We will be using this existing infrastructure to enhance the area, making sure that not only will people—locals and visitors alike—know about it, but will include it in their daily lives,” said Jeff Hull, President of Hullmark. “Beltline Yards will be unlike any other neighbourhood in Toronto, building upon the trail and the well-established maker spirit of the community, to energize and empower a sense of creativity within anyone who visits.
“Beltline Yards represents an opportunity for us to apply everything we have learned about design-focused neighbourhood development in a multi-phase master plan where we believe we will help establish a welcoming, lively community in the city. By connecting the city to the beltline with this master plan, we are creating a destination that will become a calling card for Toronto.”
Ross Strowger, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, BGO, said the partnership with Hullmark continues to shift the boundaries on innovative, thoughtful, and sustainability-driven development in Toronto.
“Beltline Yards is a large-scale, transformative masterplan that delivers much-needed housing with connectivity to public transit corridors and green space.”
The new neighbourhood is located at the intersection of Bowie Avenue and Caledonia Road, adjacent to the new transit hub at Caledonia Station, and is bounded by the York Beltline Trail along its northwest edge.
The site will include about 1.4 million square feet of residential and about 300,000 square feet of commercial space. The majority of the site is the current manufacturing facility for Canada Goose. The entire site is about 7.3 acres. Residential will be a mixture of mid and high rise buildings.
This new project will showcase transit-oriented urban planning, a variety of housing tenures including purpose-built rental housing, employment space for innovative retail and light industry, high-quality public space and parkland connecting to the city’s most expansive linear park system, and varied and unique architectural design inspired by Toronto’s historical vernacular.
Built around the core idea of creating a place for making of all kinds, Beltline Yards will be a design-led neighbourhood and is planned to be fully approved with the first phase shovel-ready in 2026.
“The current plan contemplates about 2,000 (residential) units that could be put on the site,” said Strowger. “Depending on the unit size that would be about 3,000, 4,000 residents on site. From a type of asset perspective, Sun Life is in the business of building purpose-built rental. In our portfolio, we have about 4,000 units that we own and manage for long-term ownership perspective.
“The intent would be, at least in terms of our long-term ownership on the site, to build purpose-built rental now. It’s a pretty large site so I would say in the long run it’s probably a mixture of purpose-built rental and condos there.”
Strowger said for Sun Life growth in long-term multi-family projects is a key to its strategy.
“If you look at the dysfunction and dislocation in the current housing market, I think it presents a real opportunity for investors to build long-term, institutionally owned and managed assets for these communities. And I think that long-term ownership is an amazing value proposition for everyone involved in terms of our commitment to the site, commitment to the community and commitment to the residents,” he said.
Strowger said Toronto has seen significant immigration to the city and significant rental growth.
“In the long-run what this community needs is more housing. What the city needs is more housing. That’s a strategic fit for our portfolio growth model,” he said. “Looking at places like this, gives us the opportunity to build these things over the long term and build them purposely with those goals in mind.”
Hull said the vision is to create a mixed-used community the likes of which has not been seen before in Toronto, taking advantage of the connectivity with the new transit station being built at the corner of the site and the Beltline Trail.
“We really love the neighbourhood as it exists today. This development isn’t about changing the nature of the neighbourhood. Yes, we’re going to be adding in some residential uses but we really want to build upon the amazing things that are happening in the neighbourhood already from a design and a maker perspective,” he said.
“At grade, we’re going to have a lot of commercial uses. That could be larger scale, vertical factories, that could be showrooms, that could be amenities for the neighbourhood like a grocery store, that could be smaller CRU units for sort of daily necessity type uses for the new residents and the existing residents in the neighbourhood. A real mixture of stuff at grade or grade related. Above that would be residential uses.”
Beltline Yards will highlight the area’s natural greenery and parkland, while creating walkable space for families, professionals, creatives, and visitors as well as shopping, recreation, food, employment, and industry. This project will open up connections with parkland by improving the York Beltline Trail, attract retail and other light-industrial destinations that harness a maker spirit, and include world-class placemaking and public realm design.
“We really want this development to be a catalyst for the re-imagining of the Beltline Trail to be something sort of more for the neighbourhood and the city. We’re looking at ways we can improve the Beltline Trail, we’re looking at ways that we can plan different uses along the Beltline Trail. We’re looking at ways to connect the Beltline Trail to the Humber River, multi-use path and the West Toronto Railpath to create more connectivity,” added Hull.
Central to this development is an acre (43,000 square feet) of publicly accessible park, an open-air covered yard, and over 10,000 square feet of community space, all centrally located in the heart of the site. In addition to bringing much needed and thoughtful intensification to a key transit intersection, Beltline Yards will boast almost four acres, or over 160,000 square feet of open space – almost 50 per cent of its total land area, not even including the improvements proposed to the York Beltline Trail adjacent to the site.
“Beltline Yards is a special project for us and is representative of our long-standing exploration of how to design great places with high density,” said Alfredo Caraballo, Partner at Allies and Morrison. “As architects, we have been dealt with the very interesting specificities of this site: how it relates to the York Beltline Trail so the landscape connects to a wider network; how it relates to the industrial uses around it so a culture of making and light industry remains as an intrinsic part of the character; how it relates to the public transport transformation of the area so that it unlocks many opportunities to live and work here. All these result in a design response that could only be here – a place ‘of its place’.”