Tridel Builders Inc. and Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) have submitted a rezoning request to increase the density of the final two phases of the Regent Park redevelopment to allow for about 1,000 more housing units, additional public facilities and open spaces.
Tridel is the builder for Phases 4 and 5 of the Regent Park project after Daniels Corporation constructed the first three phases of the two-decade long revitalization of the neighbourhood. The lands are bordered by Gerrard Street and Oak Street to the north and south, River Street and Dreamers Way to the east and west.
The original concept for all five phases was to construct 2,083 rent-geared-to-income units to replace existing housing at the property, plus 399 new affordable rental units and 5,500 new market condominium units at Regent Park. Much of that housing and a wide range of amenities including a community and aquatics centre, retail and commercial space, parks and other facilities are already in place.
If the rezoning is approved, Regent Park will feature an additional 500 affordable rental units as well as another 500 market housing units.
“The 2014 plan included a mix of low-rise and townhome units, mid-rise up to seven or eight storeys, and only three tower sites, the tallest being 25 storeys. That netted out to being about 2,000 units and of those 2,000 units, 564 would be TCHC,” said Peter Zimmerman, the TCHC’s senior director, development, in an interview with RENX.
More and taller towers at Regent Park
To accommodate the additional density, there will be more mid- and high-rise buildings, and a plan for townhomes has been dropped. Reasons for excluding townhomes include the provision of additional open space, and because such housing is no longer financially viable on prime downtown development lots.
“We will now build a slightly larger number of rent-geared-to-income units, 633 which is what we need to hit that magic number (2,083) . . . and achieve some new affordable rental, the 500 new affordable rentals,” Zimmerman said.
“They are differently configured so there’s no longer three tower sites, there are five I believe in the plan. What had previously been the tallest building, at 25 storeys, this proposal has the tallest building at 38. More towers, taller towers and no longer doing any townhouses, it is all mid-rise and high-rise construction.”
This would mean a total of about 9,000 housing units in Regent Park, rather than about 8,000 from the original plans.
The partners say approval of the rezoning will increase the supply of badly needed housing in Toronto and allow for additional amenities to support Regent Park and surrounding neighbourhoods.
The submission includes provision for a new Toronto Public Library branch, almost 48,000 square feet of additional commercial and retail space and over 37,900 square feet of community and cultural space.
“Tridel is excited to be a strategic partner for such an important initiative. We are thrilled to be working closely with both Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto to support the need to build housing throughout the city,” Tridel CEO Dino Carmel said in a release about the application.
“The Regent Park revitalization of Phases 4 and 5 is a long-term partnership focused on providing innovative, actionable solutions to affordable housing.”
Demolish existing buildings
The Phase 4 and 5 lands are currently occupied mainly by low-rise and townhome units, most constructed during the late 1940s and early 1950s, which will be demolished for the redevelopment. Zimmerman said occupants still living in the residences will be relocated to other TCHC sites when they’re ready to proceed with construction.
“We would love it to be done in the space of 12 months, hopefully no longer than two years,” he said, pending approval by council.
He also noted sustainability is “central to the plan.” As an entity of the city, TCHC is held to a higher development standard than public developers, so any of the community housing components must be built to net-zero standards.
The final element for the TCHC component of the increase in housing units is funding, Zimmerman said.
“We’re trying to create a framework for the delivery of those units with the support of governments,” he said, noting a business plan is in place for the original number of planned TCHC apartments, but more funding will be required for the additional units.
Zimmerman said TCHC is hoping an increased commitment to the housing sector by both the federal and provincial governments will help the city meet this goal.
“In today’s climate, where housing affordability is on the minds of all Torontonians, this rezoning submission is an opportunity to house hundreds of families in new rent-geared-to-income and affordable housing,” said Jag Sharma, president and CEO of TCHC, in the release.
“Beyond housing, our plan is a potential turning point for our city, where we can decide to help keep Toronto affordable.
“I am grateful to The Daniels Corporation for starting this project, excited to be working with Tridel Builders to realize our vision and optimistic about the support of the City of Toronto to bring this plan to life.”