Menkes Developments was a pioneer in Toronto’s South Core with 25 York, the first office tower to be built in what was then just an empty post-industrial expanse marooned between the railway lines and the Gardiner Expressway.
Today, South Core is one of the city’s most bustling nodes (see: Jurassic Park during Raptors playoff runs). And Menkes, which subsequently built the One York and Harbour Plaza complex there, and is currently developing Waterfront Innovation Centre and Sugar Wharf on the area’s eastern flank, is again leading the way—and inspiring market confidence—by securing several high-profile office leases amid the pandemic.
Most recent is with law firm Gilberts LLP, which will be relocating from the financial core to Menkes’ Waterfront Innovation Centre at 125 Queens Quay E. The firm will be leasing space in The Exchange, a boutique, jewel box building overlooking the water.
CBRE’s Brendan Sullivan, whose team brokered the deal, notes this is the fifth leasing transaction Menkes has inked in the its new South Core office buildings over the past three years.
Waterfront Innovation Centre under construction.
In 2019, the Toronto Region Board of Trade announced Menkes’ 100 Queens Quay East would become the new 90,000 sq. ft. home of the Board and its rapidly growing trade services arm, the World Trade Centre Toronto. And last year Richardson Wealth took three floors, or 85,000 sq. ft. at the same building, a 25-storey tower that’s currently under construction on the Toronto waterfront, part of the Sugar Wharf development. Earlier at Waterfront Innovation Centre, WPP signed a deal for 250,000 sq. ft. and MaRS for 50,000 sq. ft.
“These deals demonstrate the draw of South Core for tenants,” says Sullivan. “Forward-looking companies are aligned with Menkes’ vision and are joining these city building projects, which are key to revitalization of Toronto’s eastern waterfront.”
“We continue to believe in and invest in the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront."
“We continue to believe in and invest in the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront,” says Sean Menkes, VP, Office/Retail at Menkes Developments. “The South Core is an area we have been active in for over 15 years; we’re about halfway through an 8 million square foot development program in the area including office, retail and residential real estate. Office workers, residents and visitors alike continue to be drawn to the proximity to downtown, Toronto’s waterfront, its parks and abundant amenities.”
A good name counts for a lot in uncertain times, and Menkes, which has been developing office, industrial, retail and residential in Toronto for the past 65 years, is among the city's most venerable developer brands. “Menkes is a third-generation city builder in Toronto,” Sullivan says. "There’s definitely a level of comfort and connection with Menkes as a premier Toronto office developer, as evidenced by their developments in South Core and the tenants who anchor them, Sun Life (One York) and Telus (25 York) – two of the biggest Canadian brands.”
There's also no denying the appeal of an office on the waterfront. “One of the big draws for tenants at Waterfront Innovation Centre is that it’s truly one of the only beachfront office properties in Canada. It’s no longer just a pipe dream to imagine working in a beachfront office, it is now reality.”
Turning to the broader office leasing market, Sullivan says he's been seeing an uptick in tour activity in recent months and senses a strong desire among his clients to “get back into the office and create unique office experiences.” The vaccine is helping to instill confidence and it’s changing the profile of the groups out there seeking space. "Now we’re seeing the corporate groups who take up larger square footages starting to initiate their real estate programs and processes.”