Tag Archives: toronto waterfront revitalization corp
By Derek Raymaker – Globe and Mail
When it comes to redeveloping dull, depleted industrial land for residential purposes, some like to think it’s hard to go wrong. Almost anything would be an improvement over vacant factories and warehouses drooling creosote into the ground.
Over the past two weeks, New Digs has delved into massive “brownfield” revitalization efforts such as Port Credit and Liberty Village, where they got it right. They’re a hit with buyers and the surrounding community… for the most part.
King Street West’s Liberty Village reached out to first-time buyers on limited budgets (and with limited space and amenity needs), but desperate for an affordable address close to the core.
The real challenge in condominium or high-density housing redevelopment is to create products that appeal to people with a wide range of incomes.
Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. (TWRC) is taking on this challenge in the West Don Lands, now a festering mass of industrial boils, railway lines and scabs of vacant land on the west bank of the Don River on the eastern edge of downtown Toronto.
The first modest steps toward the massive community redevelopment began in the West Don Lands with sewer relocation and the construction of berm walls near the river. Soon, the 19.5-acre Don River Park will start to take shape, ultimately becoming a massive rolling green space that will also serve as a protection against flooding from the Don.
Over the next 15 years, brownstone and mews-style townhouses, mid-rise condominiums and mixed-use complexes will radiate out from the Don River Park along Front, Mill, River and Cherry streets. as far west as Parliament Street. Of the planned 6,000 dwellings housing 11,000 residents, about 1,200 are to be affordable rental units.
Architecture critics have offered mixed reviews of the crescent-style community design presented by Urban Design Associates, which placed the Don River Park as an anchor for a European-style hive of mid-rise domiciles.
The housing component should begin to take shape in late 2011 on the west side of the West Don Lands site, just north of the Distillery District, the artisan and entertainment complex carved out of the shell of the historic Gooderham & Worts spirits distillery in 2003.
The waterfront corporation’s chief executive, John Campbell, would like to issue a call this year for qualified developers to build on a part of the site. It is expected that a developer will be chosen and preselling begun by next spring. The community will be phased in over at least 15 years.
“It’s important to find out [the developers'] ability to deliver on time, the quality of their design teams, and if they can deliver on sustainability,” Mr. Campbell said.
“Most importantly,” he added, “we have to make damn sure that all of our five or six teams have great architects on board.”
There’s a lot at stake in the West Don Lands redevelopment because it is one of the lynchpins of the city’s larger eastern waterfront revitalization plan. Its ability to deliver on promises of building community diversity and redefining downtown as a good place for working families to raise their children will be closely watched.
TWRC is also under pressure not to repeat the mistakes of the past, most notably the massive wall of high-rise condominiums along Queen’s Quay West which many say was a mistake.
Mr. Campbell said there’s less than a half-dozen high-rise buildings in the works for West Don Lands, and those will only be at high-traffic points.
“The developer community isn’t keen on this decision, but this is what the surrounding community has told us they want,” he said. “They told us that they want to participate in the street life.”
The other key decision in an attempt to draw more families to the West Don Lands is establishing the parks and transit improvements first.
“We want people to be comfortable with the idea that this is a community, so we have to make sure that the core components of the infrastructure are already built. When they move there, the transit will already be built,” he said.
In addition to the Don River Park, the community’s “public realm” will include a treed promenade along Front Street, easy bicycling and pedestrian routes along major streets (including bike lanes on River Street), and a proposed streetcar line along Cherry Street feeding into the King and Queen lines.
Other features planned for the community are an 860-student elementary school next to the Don River Park, two preschool daycare facilities, and a public library.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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