Last week, Capital Developments and Metropia unveiled their initial ideas for 'Bloor & Dufferin', a redevelopment of two school sites located at a major crossroads in Toronto's West End. Setting up in the gym of Bloor Collegiate, the companies threw upon the doors to give local residents a first look at concept renderings, a chance to meet members of the project team, and to provide early feedback.
The joint venture partners have purchased two adjacent sites from the Toronto District School Board; Kent Senior Public School and Bloor Collegiate Institute, school sites which were declared surplus a few years ago. While Bloor Collegiate will be moving into new digs to the southwest across Croatia Street, Kent students were transferred a few years ago to other nearby schools. The existing Bloor Collegiate building will be torn down, while the Kent School (rendering above) will be rebuilt as a new arts hub for the community, seen in blue in the plan below.
The initial plans—drawn up by an impressive team from Hariri Pontarini Architects, Giannone Petricone Associates, landscape architects gh3, and planners BA Group, Bousfield's, and Brook Pooni Associates—add new streets and walkways to the site, creating infrastructure that extends Toronto's street grid onto the sprawling site for maximum permeability. A new street will extend south along the west end of the site from the bottom of Pauline Avenue at Bloor, while another one will extend south from the end of Russett Avenue through the heart of the site, becoming the development's retail-lined 'High Street'—one which can be closed off to vehicles for events. Easily accessible from the rest of Toronto, Dufferin subway station is just across Bloor Street, with access at both Russett Avenue and Dufferin Street.
The site's High Street will connect all of the major components of the plan, which is proposed to include about half a dozen residential towers of varying heights with plenty of mid-rise housing too, one or two levels of retail along the majority of building frontages, a new public piazza and park, and the community arts hub. Pedestrian walkways, including a mews lined with artworks—an "artist commons" as described in the team's literature—will add to what is intended as a lively public realm.
Not meant to be an island unto itself, the development will also revitalize this stretch of Bloor Street with residences, shops, and restaurants. Similarly, the Dufferin frontage will boast retail and residential, along with improved green spaces for gathering outside the Kent School hub. In a set of guiding principles laid out on the development's official website, the team aims to provide a diverse range of housing types "in different life stages" across the site.
There have been no numbers released yet. The team is looking at another half year of community engagement to evolve the plans before making a submission to the City of Toronto. More chances for locals to discuss the plans are coming up, and we will be back with more information as the plans become more detailed.
If you would like to see more of the images presented, you can check out our dataBase file, linked below. Want to talk about the redevelopment of the site? You can join in on the conversation in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.