Civic Developments, Windmill Development Group and the Co-Operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT) will transform a 2.88-acre City of Toronto-owned former parking lot at 2444 Eglinton Ave. E. into the largest co-operative housing project in Ontario in the past 25 years.
It includes three towers and over 900 co-op, affordable and condo units.
CreateTO, the city’s real estate agency that manages its $27-billion real estate portfolio, selected Civic, Windmill and CHFT as the development partners through a market offering process in 2021.
“CreateTO in particular has been instrumental in getting the deal as far as it is today and has used every tool at its disposal to make sure that we've been able to do that as efficiently as possible,” Civic managing partner Matthew Cohen told RENX.
“The early signs we're getting through the planning process is that the city is likewise motivated to see this project get built as soon as it possibly can.”
Civic and CHFT were the original partners and Windmill was brought on as a partner within a year.
The closed-ended, mixed-use opportunistic real estate development impact fund was designed to accelerate the implementation of impact-investing principles in real estate while generating market returns.
“CreateTO liked what we had to propose,” said Cohen.
“It was an innovative approach that they had not seen a lot of, and I think everyone's really keen on trying to reinvigorate co-op as a housing model.”
Two co-ops and one condo building
The development will comprise two co-op buildings of 43 and 20 storeys and a 34-storey market condominium building.
“We very much think of it as one community comprised of various housing types,” said Cohen.
The Scarborough development — located close to the Toronto Transit Commission’s Kennedy subway station, the Kennedy GO Transit station and the future Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line — will feature approximately 918 units in the three buildings.
The buildings will consist of approximately 10 per cent three-bedroom, 15 per cent two-bedroom, more than 65 per cent one-bedroom and a relatively small number of studio units.
Sizable affordable housing component
Two-thirds of them will be comprised of rent-geared-to-income (RGI), affordable and market rental co-op housing operated by CHFT.
The co-op component will provide long-term rental housing that will be owned and operated by residents on a non-profit basis.
Rents for the RGI and affordable co-op units will be set between 40 and 100 per cent of average market rent as reported annually by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), making them affordable to people across varying income levels.
At least 33 per cent of the affordable units and 15 per cent of the market rental units will be accessible.
“The formula was baked into the RFP (request for proposal), with the number of homes and the proportion of affordable versus market rental versus condo,” Cohen noted.
“But, because 600-plus units are to be co-op, we argue that the market rental will actually be affordable by CMHC standards within the first three to five years.”
Development’s other components
A community centre and retail space will be included at grade in the 2444 Eglinton East project.
It will also expand current community gardens and create new pedestrian connections from public transit to the Meadoway hydro corridor that abuts the property.
Each building will rise from a podium that will include outdoor recreation, garden and lounge areas.
Though interior amenities haven’t yet been confirmed, Cohen said there would likely be a gym, co-working space and more that would be accessible to all residents.
Underground parking will also be part of the development.
“You don't typically think of that calibre of designers with affordable housing projects,” Cohen said. “We intend for this to be a model for what future housing solutions can look like.”
Like other Windmill developments, 2444 Eglinton East will be governed by One Planet Living, a framework of 10 guiding principles that address environmental, social and economic sustainability.
It will also exceed obligations to meet the Toronto Green Standard Version 4, Tier 2 with respect to sustainability and environmental performance.
Part of Toronto's Housing Now program
The development will be the first private sector-led site under the city’s Housing Now program, which was launched five years ago to stimulate the development of affordable rental housing within transit-oriented, mixed-income and mixed-use communities on city-owned land.
The partners are in the process of obtaining a zoning bylaw amendment and other planning approvals required to facilitate the development.
Construction is expected to start in early 2026 and Cohen said occupancy could begin two years later.
Ground will be broken on the taller co-op tower first, followed by the second co-op building and then the condo.
Condo sales may launch before construction starts on the co-op, but that hasn’t yet been decided.
“Ideally, the buildings will be built in quick succession,” Cohen said. “We’ll do everything within our power to facilitate that.”
In addition to the One Planet Living Real Estate Fund, Cohen said the CMHC is expected to finance the co-op component of the project, while bank financing will support the condo.