Castlepoint Numa Inc. and WoodGreen Community Services have partnered to deliver and manage 300 to 400 affordable rental housing units at four of its Toronto residential and mixed-use developments during the next 10 years.
The affordable units, which will be priced at about 80 per cent of average market rent in Toronto, will be delivered without any direct government subsidy. Under a memorandum of understanding signed on May 6, Castlepoint Numa and its partners will retain ownership and leverage WoodGreen’s experience to assist in the delivery and management of the affordable units.
WoodGreen was established in 1937 and has grown into one of the larger non-profit housing providers in Toronto, serving more than 37,000 individuals and families annually. It offers affordable rental housing to persons of low and moderate income in combination with social programs that support childcare, seniors, housing, employment, homelessness, immigrant and mental health services.
“We laid out a number of collective objectives to work collaboratively together to deliver affordable housing and utilize a creative mix of affordable housing rents to achieve optimal social impact to really ensure affordable housing units within the buildings continued to uphold strong urban design and architectural standards, and that it was undistinguishable between market housing and affordable rental housing,” Castlepoint Numa vice-president of planning and development Elsa Fancello told RENX.
“The beauty of this partnership is that we’re both very committed to true city-building and working together to see how we can meet these large objectives.”
Castlepoint Numa president Alfredo Romano and WoodGreen’s singly named housing vice-president Mwarigha met several years ago at an affordable housing talk and have kept in touch ever since.
The details will vary from project to project, but Castlepoint Numa will be responsible for rent collection and building maintenance. WoodGreen will assist with interface and coordination, advise on layouts and where units are situated within buildings, help create legal agreements for the rentals and ensure units are occupied.
“We’re going to be leaning on their expertise to ensure that these units are fully integrated into the building as comprehensively and seamlessly as possible,” said Fancello.
Although the initiative fulfills aims of the recently adopted Inclusionary Zoning policy in Toronto, the partnership is not a result of the new regulations.
The legislation requires condominium developers to set aside five to 10 per cent of new units for affordable rentals or affordably priced homes, within certain geographic areas, beginning in 2022. That number would increase to between eight and 30 per cent by 2030.
This presents an excellent opportunity for condo developers to partner with non-profit housing providers, but Fancello said the development industry could have addressed the issue “more wholistically earlier in the process, because I think we could have delivered a significant amount of units over the last number of years.”
Affordable housing at 72 Perth
The first project between Castlepoint Numa and WoodGreen will be a nine-storey, 108-unit rental building with 10 to 15 affordable apartments at 72 Perth Ave., just south of Bloor Street West and within a five-minute walk of the Dundas West subway and Union Pearson Express stations. It fronts on the West Toronto Railpath pedestrian and bicycle path.
“The location is phenomenal,” said Fancello. “Besides Union Station, this is probably the most well-connected part of the city.”
Fifty-five per cent of its units will have two or more bedrooms. Of those, Fancello said 20 per cent will be even larger to meet City of Toronto guidelines. The building will feature indoor and outdoor amenities, including a children’s play area, a dog run and dining areas.
The project is scheduled to break ground next year and be completed in Q4 2024.
Eastern waterfront developments
Castlepoint Numa and WoodGreen will collaborate on two developments on Toronto’s eastern waterfront.
Castlepoint Numa has a 14-acre site with 2.5 million square feet of mixed-use development space at what it has named The Bend at 324 Cherry St. and 429 Lake Shore Blvd. E. It will have 1.9 million square feet allocated to residential use, with the remainder for commercial, cultural and retail uses.
“We’ve committed to deliver 10 per cent of the total residential GFA (gross floor area) as affordable housing,” said Fancello.
The Toronto-based developer is securing site plan approval for The Bend’s first phase, an 11-storey office building. The residential phase should follow shortly thereafter.
Castlepoint Numa is finalizing approvals to develop a five-acre site on Villiers Island at 309 Cherry St. It hasn’t finalized the total GFA or unit numbers, but the plan includes 60 to 95 units of affordable housing. In addition to mid-rise and high-rise housing, plans include commercial space, parks and open spaces, adaptive re-use of two heritage buildings and a number of sustainability features.
Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West
Castlepoint Numa, in partnership with Weston Park Baptist Church, has just submitted its first application to the city for a 500,000-square-foot mixed-use development at Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West, close to a Union Pearson Express station. It will have more than 500 residential units.
“We likely won’t do traditional affordable housing on that site,” said Fancello. “What we’re looking to explore further with WoodGreen is affordable workforce housing that’s almost like rent-geared-to-income for professionals who work at the airport or other nearby industries.”
Castlepoint Numa has other development properties in the Weston and Lawrence area.
“When we invest in a neighbourhood, we feel very strongly about going out early and often to the community,” said Fancello. “For us it’s a privilege to work in these neighbourhoods and we really want to ensure as much of a collaborative approach as possible because that’s something that’s important to us.”
Castlepoint Numa’s development and growth strategy
Castlepoint Group was founded in 1988 and has developed projects across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and in select markets in the United States. It has 5.5 million square feet of active development in its pipeline.
Castlepoint Numa has expertise in heritage preservation and adaptive re-use, brownfield reclamation and the regeneration of large urban development sites.
“We’re continuing to grow in strategic locations across the city,” said Fancello. “We’re a values-based development company that will continue to deliver progressive projects with strong architecture and community amenities, including art and culture, with different types of units.
“We’re committed to delivering complete communities that are well-serviced by transit.”
Other Castlepoint Numa developments
Castlepoint Numa hopes to start construction on an 11-storey, 216,988-square-foot office building with significant outdoor space at 300 Queens Quay E. early next year. Leasing discussions have begun and Fancello said early feedback has been positive.
Castlepoint Numa was the development manager and led the major expansion of Pinewood Toronto Studios in Toronto’s Port Lands area, less than three kilometres east of the downtown core, which sits on more than 20 acres and has the potential to grow to 34.
It will have 16 sound stages and support spaces totalling more than 500,000 square feet when the current expansion is completed.
“We’re no longer acting as development manager for Pinewood,” said Fancello. “Alfredo (Romano) was a shareholder of Pinewood Toronto Studios, but he exited. We’re still involved with the current expansion, but that should be wrapped up in Q1 of 2022.”
Junction Triangle activity
Castlepoint Numa acquired the eight-acre Lower JCT. site in Toronto’s Junction Triangle in 2008. It completed an official plan amendment and a rezoning process on the Sterling Road site and partnered with Greybrook Capital to redevelop Auto BLDG., a 10-storey structure built in 1919 that was, at the time, the tallest in Toronto.
That building is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and office users.
West Twns, a townhouse project at 20 Perth Ave., was also built on the site, as 72 Perth will be. However, Castlepoint Numa’s Museum FLTS condo project was cancelled in the fall of 2017 after it couldn’t secure construction financing.
Castlepoint Numa sold three parcels of land on the Lower JCT. site, comprising 2.8 acres, to Marlin Spring. It also sold three development blocks to Hines.
“We were involved with the project since 2008 and we were really excited about the vision and found tremendous development partners that really got behind the vision for the site, and it was the right time for us,” said Fancello.
Marlin Spring will build condos, affordable housing and a daycare centre on its land. Hines is building T3 Sterling Road, a 423,452-square-foot heavy timber office development across three buildings. Both companies are collaborating on realigning Perth Street and creating a private street, a park and a public plaza as part of the development.
10 Prince Arthur
Castlepoint Numa also sold a half-acre site at 10 Prince Arthur Ave. in the Annex — where it had proposed a seven-storey, 29-unit luxury condo with commercial space at grade — to North Drive.
“We had that site for a very long time and we secured all of the approvals for that project, but it wasn’t part of our immediate delivery schedule and we were presented with an offer that we couldn’t refuse,” said Fancello.