The massive joint venture development The Well, in the heart of downtown Toronto, is generating excitement with the growing number of retailers that have opened and will be opening there in the coming months.
The Well is a joint venture between RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, bordering Front, Spadina and Wellington. It is a mixture of retail, commercial and residential space in downtown Toronto that will draw approximately 22,000 daily visitors, including the approximately 11,000 residents and employees that will live and work at The Well.
Oliver Harrison, Senior Vice President, Leasing & Tenant Experience, RioCan REIT, said the project is essentially complete from a construction perspective.
A ribbon-cutting event was held recently to launch the retail component of the project.
“At that event we opened up essentially 50 per cent of the retail,” said Harrison.
Indigo opened its new concept store. Shoppers Drug Mart, adidas, and some additional tenants opened as well.
Harrison said the retail component of The Well encompasses about 320,000 square feet. There’s 1.2 million square feet of office and another million square feet of residential.
“In terms of total density on the project, there’s approximately three million square feet of density which is why it isn’t an exaggeration when we describe it as the most ambitious mixed-use project of its kind in Canada,” explained Harrison.
There is also a 70,000-square-foot food market.
“There’s about 76 retail units, assuming there ends up being a tenant for every space and spaces aren’t consolidated or split up, you’re going to have 76 tenants in the retail excluding Wellington Market and within Wellington Market there’s another 57 tenants,” said Harrison.
Arcadia Earth, an immersive, virtual reality, sustainability focused experiential tenant, has launched at The Well. A rooftop restaurant called Aera has recently opened by the Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality Group. It’s 11,000 square feet on the 38th floor of the office tower with a 2,500-square-foot rooftop patio.
“It has one of the most remarkable views, decor, design. It’s going to be one of the top producing restaurants in the country,” said Harrison.
Sweat and Tonic has launched its second fitness club at The Well. It’s a luxury fitness club combining fitness with lifestyle. There’s also a bar and lounge area.
“They’ve got one currently in Toronto which is just by the Eaton Centre. Hugely popular. Massive following,” said Harrison.
“We are expecting to have the majority of the retail open to the public by early March. I’m expecting about 80 per cent of the retail will be open. 90 per cent of it is leased. Some of those tenants are going to take a little bit later to open because the deals that we did we did them were a little bit later and the types of tenants I’m talking about are lululemon, Sephora. These are international brands that would be very recognizable. They’re not going to be open until kind of May,” said Harrison.
“The Well is such a unique project and is going to draw from such a significant radius that we’re actually being very intentional to sort of sit back with that last 10 per cent of space because we think there’s going to be operators that we wouldn’t really have imagined at the outset to bring into this project, they’re going to see it and say ‘I want to be a part of The Well. This is absolutely remarkable. There’s nothing like this in Canada.’ And we don’t want to handcuff ourselves. Maybe there’s somebody else out there that we’re not expecting at the moment that when they see it and when they see it in its completed form, which we’re almost there, we’re going to end up with a way better result.”
All six of the residential buildings have been completed with three condo buildings and three multi-family rental buildings. The three condo buildings are by real estate company Tridel and the three rentals are owned by the private equity company Woodbourne and RioCan has a 50 per cent interest in one of those residential buildings RioCan.
“The majority of the condos are sold, otherwise they wouldn’t have been built and our residential building, there’s 650 units in 450 The Well (a rental), it’s actually the biggest residential building amongst the six, we started moving people in in August of this year and we’re already close to 40 per cent leased,” said Harrison. “If you look at a typical residential building with 600 units, your pro forma would probably contemplate a lease-up period/stabilization period to get to 90 per cent of anywhere between 12 and 18 months. We’ve already leased 40 per cent of the building in three months.”
In total, there’s 1,680 residential units.
The office component of The Well is pretty much fully leased.
“It took us 11 years from the land acquisition (to this point),” said Harrison. “It’s been 11 years since we acquired all the various parcels, went through the planning and approvals process. We started construction in 2017.
“It is a remarkable project.”