Metrolinx will take a step into the real estate market tomorrow, when it issues an RFP for development above its new Crosstown LRT stations. Metrolinx has already been using a more hands off approach to encourage development around its GO Transit stations, which has seen some success with some condominiums now in the preconstruction stage which are located immediately adjacent to a GO station.

The Crosstown is a $5.3 billion dollar LRT line running 19km across Eglinton Avenue, and will feature 14 new underground stations which have potential to have transit oriented development constructed on top. Metrolinx is beginning the process with selling the development rights to 4 of their sites, 2 at the future Keele station, and 1 site each at Weston Road and Bathurst Street. The sale of these properties is expected to raise upwards of $10 million dollars, and if successful it could prove to be a good way to recoup a small amount of transit expansion costs. If the sale of these initial 4 properties proves to be successful, Metrolinx may then move to sell the development rights it has on top of the other stations along the coming LRT line.

Two of the sites, the Weston Road and Bathurst Street sites, are zoned for high-rise residential towers, while the two at Keele have mid-rise zoning rights. Metrolinx is distancing itself from the full development process however, and developers would be free to apply to rezone the properties for higher densities after the purchase from Metrolinx through the regular process with the City of Toronto.

Bathurst, LRT, MetrolinxPreliminary renderings of the Bathurst LRT station; the development would replace the main entrance to the right, image courtesy of Metrolinx

Intensification above and immediately adjacent to transit stations doesn't only have a financial benefit to Metrolinx however, it also drives transit ridership. Metrolinx and GO Transit are looking for ways to reduce the use of the parking at their stations, and having a large amount of residents living right beside the station reduces that need. Adjacent development can also prove to be advantageous for regular transit users, as it can create retail spaces and provide the population to support them, which provides a higher level of amenity to transit users. 

Metrolinx has been encouraging transit oriented development adjacent to their GO stations as well, although in a less involved manner. Developments adjacent to their stations have been popping up around the GTA recently, such as at Burlington and Mimico GO stations. The intensification projects already underway at GO stations are proving to be great examples of what Transit Oriented Development can be. Burlington's development, known as Paradigm Condominiums, includes 5 towers with 20 floors each. Also included are 7 retail units and 3 floors of office space. The development will provide employment space with access to rapid transit, retail spaces that will see increased viability due to the nearby transit station, and a large population base which will also be located directly adjacent to the GO station. Another project currently under way, On the GO Mimico, is a 26-storey condominium with a grocery store in the base. The grocery will likely prove to be a great amenity for the GO station users, who will soon be able to grab their groceries on the way home from work.

On the GO Mimico, Stanton Renaissance, McCallum Sather ArchitectsOn the GO Mimico will be directly adjacent to Mimico GO Transit Station, image courtesy of Stanton Renaissance

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