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Under Eglinton: Touring Progress at Keelesdale LRT station

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Twenty-five metres (82 feet) below Eglinton Avenue West, I suddenly and absurdly thought, “Wow, this is actually happening!”

“This” is the 19-kilometre (11.8-mile) Crosstown Light Rail Transit line, stretching from Mount Dennis on the west side of Toronto to Kennedy in the east. I was standing at what will eventually be track level in the future Keelesdale station.

View of track level at the future Keelesdale LRT StationUnderground at at track level at Keelesdale LRT Station, looking east. Image, courtesy of Metrolinx

I write a lot about public transit projects and so, of course, am completely aware of the details of this project: the demolished buildings; the blocked roadways and sidewalks; and the seemingly endless traffic jams. Even though construction has been underway for more than three years, all that street-level work seems, psychologically at least, completely separate from the hive of activity taking place under it, because for most people it’s hidden from view. Although I recently visited the mostly outdoor station at Mount Dennis—one stop to the west—the effect of heading underground for the first time was astonishing.

Aerial-view rendering of Keelesdale Station on the future Crosstown LRT lineAerial-view rendering of Keelesdale Station, as it will appear when the LRT is operating, image, Metrolinx

Metrolinx and its contractors, Crosslinx Transit Solutions, invited members of the media to tour the future station to help explain the “cut-and-cover” construction process that Crosslinx is using to build nine of the line’s 15 underground stations.

The future station at the intersection of Eglinton with Keele Street and Trethewey Drive will eventually have three street-level structures to allow passengers to enter and exit the station. We first visited the site of the main entrance on the northwest corner of Eglinton and Trethewey to peer down into the excavation toward the station base, where, shortly, we would be standing. Daniel Sanchez, Crosslinx’ project manager for the station, acted as our tour guide and led us through two major work areas, describing the process of building the station.

View of the main entrance of future Keelesdale LRT Station under constructionLooking southeast toward Eglinton at the site of the future main entrance. Note suspended pipes, image, Robert Mackenzie

In March 2016, crews started installing permanent station head- and side-walls at the site. First, they built shoring walls around the areas that they intended to excavate. Shoring required the contractors to drive large steel beams called soldier piles deep into the ground at regular intervals along the perimeter of the station, and around the station’s entrance buildings. In between each vertical steel beam, lagging—timber slats—was inserted to carry the load. Then, digging commenced, and once they were deep enough to reach the tunnels that had already been constructed, the tunnel liners were removed at each station site.

Premier Wynne at the launch of construction of Keelesdale LRT StationPremier Kathleen Wynne launched construction of Keelesdale Station in March, 2016, image courtesy of Metrolinx

The shoring walls for station’s excavation pit—about 130 metres long by 20 metres wide (426.5 by 65.6 feet)—were supported by both steel braces or tie-backs drilled into the earth as the pit grew deeper. In total, the crews removed about 80,000 cubic metres or 2,825,173 cubic feet of material from the site.

Rendering of the main entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the main station entrance on the northeast corner of Trethewey and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

A problem, Sanchez said, was ensuring traffic could flow along Eglinton and Keele while crews worked under the street. His crews temporarily shifted traffic to the north side of Eglinton and the east side of Keele and Trethewey, while they dug a shallow pit on the other side. They then installed wooden decking above the excavated area so the traffic lanes could then be restored. Next, the process was repeated on the south and west. The decking required 2,300 square metres (24,757 square feet) of wood—enough to cover the floors of five basketball courts.

“This is an interesting project,” Sanchez said. “One of the many challenges that made it interesting was the large number of underground utilities at the site, including water-mains and sanitary and storm sewers. He pointed to a large pipe that was suspended high above the pit, stretching from east to west close to street level. He explained that at this site his team couldn’t relocate these “wet” utilities, so they carefully dug around them then installed hangers to suspend them from the street deck, allowing them to dig deeper below.

Rendering of the secondary entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the plaza in front of the secondary entrance at the northwest corner of Trethewey and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

Sanchez then guided us across the street to the site of the tertiary entrance on the southeast corner of Keele and Eglinton. (A secondary entrance stands on the northwest corner beside York Memorial Collegiate Institute.) There we descended about five stories down to the floor of the site, where workers busily laboured while reporters filmed and interviewed Sanchez and other Crosslinx officials further.

View of track level at the future Keelesdale LRT StationLooking up from track level toward the main entrance, image, Metrolinx

Light streamed from the site of the station entrance structures above, simulating the final effect for passengers awaiting trains when construction ends. (All street-level entrances will be mostly glass.) The high ceilings gave the site a cathedral-like atmosphere, with the twin tunnel portals at the east end demanding our visual attention. Orange tarpaulin covered much of the rough concrete floor, which the team had poured just the day before while a non-stop parade of concrete mixer trucks and a series of pumps delivered liquid concrete to the site continuously over eight hours.

Rendering of the tertiary entrance to Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the tertiary (third) station entrance on the southeast corner of Keele and Eglinton, image, Metrolinx

Crosslinx expects to substantially finish the station by July 2020, when Metrolinx starts using it as part of a test track for the Bombardier cars. The cars will be prepared for passenger service by first logging 600 hours during short runs between Mount Dennis and Caledonia stations; Caledonia is the next station east of Keelesdale.

Rendering of track level at Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of track level, when LRT trains are in service, image, Metrolinx

When open to passengers, targeted for September 2021, the station will also include a four-bay bus terminal behind the main entrance at Trethewey and Yore Road. (Keelesdale is one of the few Crosstown stations to get such a terminal.) The TTC plans for buses in both directions along the 41 Keele and 941 Keele express routes to stop in the terminal. Local buses along a new route, which the TTC is tentatively designating as 58 Trethewey, will also call there.

Rendering of future TTC bus terminal at Keelesdale LRT StationRendering of the future TTC bus terminal at Keelesdale LRT Station, image, Metrolinx

Crosslinx is using cut-and-cover to build eight more stations along the line: Caledonia, Fairbank, Forest Hill, Chaplin, Mount Pleasant, Leaside, Laird (part), and Science Centre. It’s mining where geology permits—digging out the stations from the shafts at the entrance sites, and working deep beneath the surface with much less impact to the street above—at Oakwood, Avenue Road, and Laird (part). Cedarvale and Eglinton stations require a variety of construction methods because they serve as interchange stations with the TTC’s U-shaped Line 1 Yonge – University subway.

UrbanToronto will continue to update you on the Crosstown LRT project as it progresses. What do you think about this station or the line? You can add your thoughts in the space provided on this page, or join the discussion in our dedicated Forum thread.


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Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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