The much praised and multi-phased revitalization of Regent Park has given many of Toronto's public housing neighbourhood new hope for their future, including the Lawrence Heights community in North Toronto. Lawrence Heights was built in 1962 as a low-income community, based on a now-discredited model of urban design that put the focus on wide-open spaces, curving streets and cul-de-sacs, and put retail a long walk or short drive from the homes.
The redevelopment of Lawrence Heights in its entirety was first proposed in 2007, and plans for the first phase have recently been announced by developers Context and Metropia. The Yorkdale Condominiums will start the redevelopment at the north end of the community, on Ranee Avenue south of Yorkdale Mall. The 14 and 15-storey, KPMB Architects/Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects-designed buildings will rise on opposite sides of the Allen Road, which cuts north-south through the Lawrence Heights community.
Both buildings will rise from the site of underutilized green spaces on the south side of Ranee Avenue, divided by the elevated roadway and Spadina subway line. The buildings will benefit from access to Yorkdale subway station and will bring new retail to the neighbourhood along Ranee Avenue. The developers are currently teasing that a long list of amenities will be available to residents here, but we will have to wait a little longer to find out exactly what recreational and entertainment opportunities will be in store for residents of The Yorkdale Condominiums. Whatever is available inside the complex, the hugely popular Yorkdale Mall with its myriad stores, restaurants, and services is just a short walk to the north.
The announcement of The Yorkdale marks the first step in the 20-year revitalization of Lawrence Heights, which will see the demolition of the current stock of buildings on the site. All 1,208 units planned for demolition will be replaced, including 233 which will be replaced during the first phase of redevelopment alone. The redevelopment is expected to span the course of two decades, with the over 100-acre site of Lawrence Heights eventually being home to 4,092 overall market units as well. Demolition for the first phase is expected to commence in Spring of 2015, after which it should be another 7-10 years until phase 1 is complete.
The revitalized Lawrence Heights will feature new public parks and open spaces, a new community centre, school and a large central park. Streetscapes will be improved with up to 5,000 square metres of new commercial space, and $3.5M in employment and training opportunities for residents are being provided for phase one alone.
We will return with updates on The Yorkdale as more information becomes available. In the meantime, additional information and renderings can be found in The Yorkdale's dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.