Affordable housing has been a hot topic of late in Toronto. Following an announcement earlier this week where the provincial government revealed plans to redevelop three surplus Ontario-owned properties in Downtown Toronto with affordable housing, a major development in Scarborough has broken ground. Addressing the need for below-market units, The Daniels Corporation and Diamond Corp's FirstHome: Markham Sheppard project celebrated the official start of construction yesterday, with work underway before sales of the homes have even begun.

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleGround breaking at Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard, image by Jack Landau

Designed with first-time buyers in mind, the project's official start came early yesterday afternoon, with ceremonial soil-turning at the south east corner of Markham and Sheppard by (L-R in the image above) Councillors Neethan Shan (Ward 42 Rouge River) and Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport); Mayor John Tory; The Daniels Corporation’s Executive Vice President, Niall Haggart; Diamond Corp.’s Executive Vice President and COO, Bob Blazevski; Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24 Willowdale and Chair of Build Toronto), and Simona Annibale, Vice President Marketing, The Daniels Corporation.

Major Tory spoke of the City's commitment to improve affordable housing options across Toronto, saying “Through the City’s Open Door program, we are streamlining the process, and cutting red tape for developers who want to do business with the City so we can build much needed affordable housing quicker. The City invested $7.7 million to provide down-payment assistance loans to nearly 100 eligible families at 5131 Sheppard Avenue.” The Mayor continued by showing his appreciation for the companies responsible for advancing this plan, saying “I want to thank The Daniels Corporation, Diamond Corp. and Build Toronto for being partners with the City of Toronto to do everything we can to build more affordable housing for people who need it in Toronto.”

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleMayor John Tory speaking at the Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard ground breaking, image by Jack Landau

Originally held by the TTC but declared surplus, the 5131 Sheppard Avenue East property—now vacant and cleared for the start of shoring—was transferred to Build Toronto, who then tendered it developers, mandating that 30% of the homes be affordable housing. The 3.6-acre site will be redeveloped with 328 condominium and townhome suites, coming in three six-storey mid-rises and four blocks of townhomes.

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleNorthwest-facing aerial view of Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard ground breaking, image courtesy of The Daniels Corporation

228 of the suites will be contained in the mid-rise buildings, with the remaining 100 as townhomes. In total, 30% of the units will be financially accessible, geared towards purchasers with a household income that doesn't exceed $90,500, the 60th percentile of income in Toronto. The condo units at Firsthome: Markham Sheppard will range from 443 ft² studio units to 1,053 ft² three-bedroom layouts, while townhomes will range in sizes from 528 ft² to 1,172 ft². Across the entire community, 50% of the homes will be two and three-bedroom layouts, creating housing opportunities for families of varying sizes.

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleOrchid Place Drive frontage at Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard ground breaking, image courtesy of The Daniels Corporation

Designed by Quadrangle, the project's 328 homes are priced from the $290,000s. They will be built and sold in two phases, with phase 1 including 121 condominium suites and townhomes, and phase 2 with 207 condo and townhome units. Next summer, Daniels will release a limited selection of homes in phase 1 to first-time home buyers who qualify for Daniels' First Home BOOST program, with the remaining phase 1 units to be released in summer 2019, upon completion of construction.

Residents of the community will have access to a variety of amenities, with outdoor spaces landscaped by Wilk Associates, and indoor spaces designed by Daniels' Décor Team. Outdoor spaces will include community gardens and a greenhouse, which will offer urban gardening workshops for residents, as well as grilling areas, picnic areas, a children’s play zone, and a parkette with benches and chess tables. Indoor amenities will include over 3,500 ft² of space including a multipurpose room capable of supporting fitness and programmed activities, as well as a kitchenette and lounge space.

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleGarden at Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard, image courtesy of The Daniels Corporation

One of the cost-saving methods being employed at this site is the use of wood-framed construction for structural elements. With recent changes to the Ontario Building Code increasing the previous four-storey cap on wood structures, the three mid-rise components at FirstHome: Markham Sheppard will be the first six-storey residential wood-framed development built in the Greater Toronto Area.

 Markham Sheppard, Toronto, Diamond Corp, QuadrangleTwo of the mid-rise buildings at at Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard, image courtesy of The Daniels Corporati

We will return with updates as construction of this master-planned community progresses. In the meanwhile, additional information and renderings can be viewed in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

To request more info directly from Daniels FirstHome: Markham Sheppard click here