Toronto Land Corporation moves on from the low hanging fruit

In March, the Toronto Lands Corporation (TLC) placed an ad in the property section of the Globe and Mail for a 6.5-acre development property zoned multi-unit residential and suitable for new apartment construction at 1325 Danforth Rd. in an existing Scarborough community.
This property is one of seven surplus school properties being sold, and sixteen others available for lease or at various stages of development, listed on the TLC website.
Colliers International’s Ian Gragtmans, who is one of five ‘vendor’s of record’ engaged by the TLC says “the sale of the site is a tremendous revenue opportunity that allows for the re-capture of funds that can be used for other Toronto School Board activities.” 
Given the revival of new apartment construction after almost 30 years of inactivity this site will have had ‘significant interest’ from the development industry. The school on the property is to be closed in June and the school will not be part of a future development.
It is an opportunity for the “enhanced utilization of a site that is currently underutilized,” says Gragtmans.
Toronto Lands Corporations is ‘one of a kind’
Established in 2008, the Toronto Lands Corporation is a subsidiary of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), established to develop and dispose of surplus school properties and generate new revenue for the TBSB. The TLC is similar to both Build Toronto, an arms length organization set up by the city of Toronto with a mandate for its property and Canada Lands Corporation, spun off by the federal government.
Asked whether there are other school boards with similar corporations in Canada Shirley Hoy, Chief Executive Officer for the TLC said “it is unusual and I don’t know of another one.”
In the 1990s, at the initiative of the Ontario government, the five Toronto area municipalities were amalgamated into the current ‘City of Toronto’ frequently referred to as the Greater Toronto Area or GTA. The province also merged the school boards and created the Toronto District School Board. In 2012 the TDSB had more than 624 properties about 588 operating schools, said Hoy.
As a part of this major restructuring, the province directed the freshly minted TBSB to sell or develop surplus land and schools. The Ministry of Education remains directly involved in Toronto school property decisions, including reviews of school site disposal and development.
The Toronto Lands Corporation portfolio
The TLC portfolio included 134 properties as of August 31, 2012, according to its annual report.
Since its inception, the TLC has sold 49 properties generating more than $260-million dollars for the coffers of TDSB.
“Close to 60% of those properties were sold to property developers,” said Hoy. “The remaining 40% were sold to other school boards, the City of Toronto and provincial ministries who are given first opportunity to buy school property before it is offered to the private sector.”
A letter included in the TLC annual report signed by TLC chair David Crombie and Hoy indicates that the TLC’s responsibilities are changing:
“It is without question that the ‘low hanging fruit’ has been picked. The remaining properties that have been identified as surplus and directed to the Toronto Lands Corporation for sale will pose more challenges, be more time-consuming and will require greater staff time and effort to complete.“
Six re-development sites assigned to the TLC
In 2012, the TDSB significantly ‘raised the bar’ by including six re-development projects.
The six properties will all have the continued presence of a school along with new development lands. The sale of the development lands is expected to underwrite the cost of new schools and contribute to the school board’s overall capital building program.
Updates regarding the development sites are routinely posted to the TLC website.
The six properties now under the TLC’s authority to develop are at various stages in the development process:
1. Lawrence – Midland
The Lawrence-Midland Redevelopment is comprised of one secondary school site with a building and two vacant lots.
The TLC is currently circulating the Lawrence-Midland Redevelopment site to its public partners a process that takes about 90 days and it has received an expression of interest in the existing David and Mary Thomson C.I. School.
The Toronto School Board also plans to build a new high school on this site.
There are two separate parcels of vacant land that will be available for residential development when the land finally goes to market. This is not expected to occur for up to four to five years depending on the pace of development approvals.

Larger scale site plan for the Lawrence-Midland Redevlopment
2. Oakburn – Avondale
Under review by the Ministry of Education
The Oakburn – Avondale property is located north of Sheppard Ave. and Yonge St., an area of Toronto that is experiencing an increase in the number of school-aged children. The Ministry of Education is assessing the level of priority for a Avondale public school rebuild that would involve a doubling in the size of the school.
3. Davisville-Yonge
Under review by the Ontario Ministry of Education
4. Bloor-Dufferin
Under review by the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education
5. Ryerson Community School
Under review by the Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education
6. Lawrence Heights
Under review by the Toronto District School Board
Property Biz Canada will be provide updates regarding the TLC including its properties for sale and progress on the re-development sites in future issues.

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