By Donna Mayer
The first tranche of 11 transit-oriented development sites approved for sale or lease by the City of Toronto for mixed-income residential development have completed the initial step in activating the sites to enter the market offering process.
Redevelopment studies have been completed on several of the sites and the community consultation process is underway.
The City’s real estate agency CreateTO was assigned 11 city-owned sites last December to develop mixed-income rental housing, as part of the City of Toronto’s action plan to increase the number of affordable housing units in Toronto. More than half of the properties will include market rate condominiums.
The 11 sites are all transit-oriented properties including some valuable commuter parking lots near transit stations and vacant sites adjacent to new, planned transit hubs, including:
- Islington Station
- Kipling Station Transit Hub
- Wilson Station
- Don Mills Crossing, Eglinton LRT
- Victoria Park Station
- Leslie Station and Oriole Go Station (pedestrian access)
Five of the properties will be 100% rental housing, with the remaining six properties being a mix of one-third ownership (market condominiums), one third market rental, and one third affordable rental. Below market long-term leases will be required for the properties with 100% rental housing, with sales of the sites where ownership units are provided.
Six of the 11 properties – including 50 Wilson Heights, 770 Don Mills Road, 805 Don Mills Road, 251 Esther Shiner Blvd., 3326 Bloor St. West and 1226 Islington Ave., and 3741 Bloor St. West and part 925 Kipling Ave. – will be permitted to develop one-third units as market condominiums.
The properties have all been sanctioned by City Council to receive VIP treatment in the planning and approvals process, by implementing an expedited review process and setting timelines for the completion of review of the related development applications submitted by the selected developers of each site.
Fee exemptions from the payment of development charges and a waiver of all planning and building permit fees and parkland dedication fees for the affordable rental housing on the properties were also authorized by Toronto City Council.
In addition, property taxes will be exempted for municipal and school purposes from the date of occupancy, for all affordable rental units.
The new affordable rental homes will remain affordable for 99 years. They will be affordable for households earning between approximately $21,000 and $52,000 per year.
Toronto City Council directed CreateTO to utilize its existing pre-qualified Broker roster to expedite marketing to administer the market offering process for the 11 Properties.
CreateTO, in consultation with the City’s Housing Secretariat, will select a third-party broker to evaluate the 11 Properties and lead the market offering process throughout 2019 and beyond. Five of the 11 properties will be offered to market in 2019 with the remaining properties ready for market offering in 2020.
The offering process will include an evaluation framework that will be used in selecting successful proponents. The framework will assess each proposal based on a range of criteria including qualifications of the proponents (development and operating experience), the resources proponents bring to the project, proposed operating model, including private/non-profit partnerships, affordability, accessibility and energy efficiency details, project design and long-term financial viability.
Staff from CreateTO, the City’s Affordable Housing Office and City Planning will complete a business case for each site to determine specific housing objectives, site planning directions and overall project feasibility prior to market offering.
Montgomery Sisam Architects, a mid-sized architectural firm based in Toronto, is collaborating with CreateTO and the City of Toronto on the housing initiative. They completed redevelopment studies for 770 and 805 Don Mills Road earlier this year and have been awarded three additional sites to advance the concept work to the next stage. These include the 50 Wilson Heights Boulevard, 777 Victoria Park, 140 Merton Avenue sites, where community consultation is currently underway.
Non-profit and co-operative housing organizations will be invited to participate in the market offering process, including the opportunity for long-term operation of the affordable rental units. Partnerships between the private and community sectors are encouraged.
CreateTO’s mandate is to manage the City’s real estate portfolio, develop City buildings and lands for municipal purposes and provide real estate solutions to City divisions, agencies and corporations.
Launched on January 1, 2018, CreateTO is the City of Toronto’s new real estate agency mandated to lead a new City-wide real estate service delivery model adopted by City Council in 2017.
The new model involves the operational consolidation of two City corporations, Build Toronto and the Toronto Port Lands Company, through service agreements with CreateTO for specific real estate activities such as commercial development. CreateTO currently manages all RFPs for Build Toronto and Toronto Port Lands Company in addition to CreateTO opportunities.
In Toronto, over the last five years, about 80,000 new condominium units have been completed compared to 4,500 purpose-built rental units.