Hines Breaks Ground on Mass-Timber Office Project in Toronto

3 min read

The first phase of T3 Bayside, the workspace component of a master-planned waterfront community, is on schedule to reach completion in early 2023.

T3 Bayside. Image courtesy of Hines

Hines has commenced construction of T3 Bayside’s first phase, a 251,000-square-foot speculative office building at the company’s 13-acre Bayside Toronto master-planned community along Toronto’s eastern waterfront. The 10-story tower, which will be one of two identical mass-timber buildings, marks the initiation of Bayside Toronto’s approximately 500,000-square-foot workplace component.

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T3—or timber, talent and technology—denotes Hines’ innovative development concept, which centers on the creation of structures built with sustainable mass timber and featuring coveted amenities. The goal of the company’s T3 projects, the first of which opened in Minneapolis in 2016 as the first commercial tower in the U.S. to be built with an exterior and interior of renewable wood, is to provide a differentiated tenant experience. “These developments were a result of witnessing the demand from tenants for the historic brick-and-beam office spaces around the world, but recognizing the negative aspects of these historic spaces—poor acoustics, inferior building systems, lack of amenities and parking, etc.,” Myles Millard, a director with Hines, told Commercial Property Executive. “We sought to create a hybrid structure that combined the historic charm and authenticity of the brick-and-beam spaces, utilizing the timber structure, with all the modern building systems and tenant amenities of a new build.”

Architecture firms 3XN and WZMH are behind the design of T3 Bayside. The buildings will feature flexible office accommodations and event space and will be connected via a central retail plaza that will allow tenants to create a corporate campus environment. T3 Bayside will qualify for LEED Gold certification. “The timber structure significantly lowers the environmental impact of the building, aligning with our goal of continuing to push the envelope of sustainable development,” Millard noted.

No prelease, no problem

Hines commences T3 Bayside with nary a tenant commitment in place amid two schools of thought regarding the Greater Toronto area’s post-pandemic office market: Either office users will require the same or less space due to employees continuing to work from home, or they will require the same or more space to accommodate physical distancing, according to Avison Young’s second quarter 2020 report. Uncertainty notwithstanding, Hines is far from deterred.

“There were a number of factors that ultimately led us to deciding to move forward on this project, including the progression of the East Bayfront area into one of Toronto’s most exciting mixed-use communities and the completely unique nature of the T3 Bayside product type, with its unparalleled amenity offering, timber structure and waterfront location,” said Millard. Finally, he added, Toronto’s historically tight office market conditions provided encouragement. While the area’s quarter-over-quarter vacancy rate increased as a result of COVID-19, it still settled in at a modest 5.6 percent, according to Avison Young’s statistics. “The market entered the pandemic coming off a decade of transformative change and growth and, importantly, its success had been restricted by a supply shortage,” Avison Young noted in the report.

With Eastern Construction aboard as general contractor for T3 Bayside, Hines expects to deliver the project’s first building in early 2023. Hines’ other T3 developments have been met with a warm reception, including Atlanta’s T3 West Midtown, which opened in 2019. Ground broke on T3 RiNo, a 240,000-square-foot spec project in Denver, in February 2020. Hines plans to continue to enhance its portfolio of T3 properties with new projects in key global locations.

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