After years of collaboration with Lawrence Heights residents, community groups, the City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing, the Lawrence Heights revitalization project cleared its first hurdle yesterday with unanimous approval of the necessary first phase of by-law amendments. The revitalization plan aims to change Lawrence Heights from a rundown and neglected area into one of vibrant mixed use. Phase one will include 233 new rental units, 828 market condos and townhouses, new retail space and three times the amount of existing park space. It will cover 25.6 acres, centred along Allen Road between Yorkdale and Lawrence West subway stations.
Lawrence Heights is one of the City of Toronto's 13 Priority Neighbourhoods. These areas of the city have been identified for investment in social infrastructure and support services, and in some cases, a major physical change such as the one just approved for Lawrence Heights. Priority Neighbourhoods are characterized by a high proportion of visible minorities, recent immigrants, single-parent and low-income households. In many cases, people who live in these areas have difficulty accessing services.
UrbanToronto readers are by now quite familiar with another City of Toronto/Toronto Community Housing project, the Regent Park Revitalization, which has been going on for several years. The project continues to transform the neglected social housing neighbourhood with new streets and amenities such as the Daniels Spectrum and Regent Park Central Park & Aquatic Centre. The project has also brought mixed use to Regent Park, with new shops, cafes and banks along with mixed subsidized and market housing, including PaintBox Condos and OnePark West.
The Lawrence Heights revitalization will follow a similar pattern of redevelopment to that of Regent Park, as both have similar neighbourhood dynamics and demographics. When the project is complete, the neighbourhood's old social housing stock of 1200 units will be replaced in a $65 million investment from Toronto Community Housing, mixed with an additional 4100 market units. There are a number of developers involved in TCHC's revitalization projects, including the Daniels Corporation, Tridel, and Context.
Typical Lawrence Heights streetscape today:
Artist's concept of Lawrence Heights post-revitalization:
You can find more information on urban design for the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood here.