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SIXO Midtown unveiled!

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Kitchener’s King Street project would create ‘urban village’ with condo towers, shops offices

May 19, 2017 by Catherine Thompson Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — A local developer has unveiled plans for a massive “urban village” that would add almost 1,000 residential units and one million square feet of new buildings to a site just outside Kitchener’s downtown.

The development by Zehr Group would transform the streetscape in that section of King Street. It will put up five buildings clustered around the 1897 Kaufman mansion, including a 14-storey apartment, three condo towers ranging from 26 to 30 storeys, and a mid-rise office/retail building. The development is expected to cost $450 million to $500 million, said Zac Zehr, the company’s manager of development.

Billed on the company’s website as “the largest highrise community in Kitchener-Waterloo,” the Sixo Midtown would add 227,000 square feet of office space, 69,000 square feet of commercial space and 990 residential units to a parcel of land on King Street West, between the CN Rail tracks and Wellington Street.

“Sixo will be the landing point for everyone arriving at our end of the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor by rail” the company said in a news release. “Sixo will make a powerful statement when people step off that train into the Innovation District for the first time.”

It makes sense to build a project like this on the edge of the Innovation District, home to many tech companies, Zehr said.

In talking to potential investors, it’s clear that people across Canada and beyond are aware of the area’s booming economic growth, he said. “They are totally aware of what’s happening in Kitchener and the region, and are excited about it. We hope and believe we’re just at the beginning of this.”

The ambitious project is in an area of Kitchener that has seen a lot of development interest recently, with the new Google office in the Breithaupt Block almost directly across the street; the 19-storey One Victoria tower at King and Victoria; the One Hundred Victoria project, with two towers 15 and 19 storeys high; and plans for a multimodal transit hub at King and Victoria that could include towers as high as 30 storeys.

“Sixo Midtown is coming, in a lot of ways, as a result of what’s happening in the downtown and the Innovation District, but also as a result of the LRT,” Zehr said. “We believe that people are going to want use the LRT and transit, especially when we get all-day, two-way GO service kitty-corner from our site.”

Zehr Group has hired Dallas architectural firm Humphreys & Partners, which has designed buildings all across the United States, as well as in Canada and several other countries, for the project.

Among all the gleaming glass and metal highrises will sit the red sandstone Victorian Gothic mansion built by industrialist Jacob Kaufman. Zehr Group plans to restore the home and repurpose it as offices, a restaurant or amenity space for the other buildings on the site.

Walkability and access to transit are key parts of how Zehr plans to market the project. Light rail trains — which feature prominently in the artists’ renderings — will run past the site, and the regional transportation hub is a short walk down King Street.

The development includes paths so people can easily walk or cycle from Walter Street, through the Sixo site and connect to the transit hub and downtown, Zehr said. The design includes a large outdoor area, with fountains, patios and an outdoor amphitheater, between the buildings on the site.

“It would mimic the small central parks that you see in New York or Toronto, where people would just come and hang out as part of their lifestyle,” Zehr said. “We kind of envision a space that could be an outdoor auditorium for bands to play, a very unique multipurpose outdoor space” used not only by residents of the complex, but others as well.

Zehr Group estimates it will take about a year to work through planning and other approvals, with construction starting possibly as early as June 2018. It would be another two years at least before the first occupants can move in, and the project will be completed in phases over the next several years, Zehr said.

The project is so big that Zehr Group, which has been involved in a number of major projects in the region, including One Hundred, and the Catalyst 137 , is looking for a financial partner for the project, Zehr said. “It’s something that’s larger than what the group can do on its own.”

cthompson@therecord.com , Twitter: @ThompsonRecord