On the morning of Tuesday, October 13th, the demolition—and revitalization—of Lawrence Heights began. Standing over the site, John Tory experienced one of the "proudest days" of his mayoralty as the first of the dilapidated mid-century townhouses currently onsite gave way to rubble, beginning in earnest a large-scale re-development project first proposed in 2007.
For the City and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), the demolition inaugurated one of the most significant redevelopment projects in Toronto's history, which will transform one of the city's largest public housing communities into a new, mixed-income neighborhood.
All 1,208 of TCHC's rent-geared-to-income units will be replaced by new subsidized housing, while an additional 4,092 market-priced units will be brought to the neighborhood, which was has existed in its current architectural form since 1962. The influx of density will transform the urban fabric of the neighborhood, while the creation of a mixed-income community may alleviate some of the social stigma surrounding an area sometime pejoratively referred to as the "Jungle."
While redevelopment projects throughout North America have frequently been critiqued for their failure to replace all of the pre-existing public housing supply with new subsidized units—some new, mixed-income neighbourhoods created considerably fewer subsidized units than the communities they replace—the redevelopment plan is notable not only for its preservation (and slight expansion) of existing community housing stock, but also for the substantial new density that will be brought to the area.
In addition to new market-price units, commercial space has been zoned for retailers in an effort to inject pedestrian vibrancy to an area that has long remained socially and economically isolated from the city around it. Alongside new retail and mid-to-high-rise development, the re-made Lawrence Heights will also feature new park space, as well as a school and community centre.
Context and Metropia have now begun the process of re-developing the 25-acre community, which stretches from Lawrence to just south of Highway 401 along either side of the Allen Road. The first phase of the project (above) will see the area closest to Yorkdale Mall infilled with The Yorkdale Condominiums (above), set to serve as the first declarative marker of the neighbourhood's renaissance.
The 14 and 15-storey towers, designed by KPMB Architects/ Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects, will rise on opposite sides of Allen Road, giving the new development a strong presence from the Allen Road and nearby 401. 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 new buildings will also benefit from access to Yorkdale subway station and will bring new retail to the neighbourhood along Ranee Avenue.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2021, while the re-development in its entirety is expected to be a 20-year project. Once complete, the new Lawrence Heights will house 16,000 residents, re-making the community.
We will keep you updated as the revitalization project continues to take shape. In the meantime, additional information and renderings can be found in our dataBase files, 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.
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