On February 7, the City’s Planning Department hosted a community meeting to discuss the Bloor-Dufferin redevelopment as part of the City’s formal development application review process. The proposal began in 2016 when the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) sold the site to Capital Developments and Metropia, and the City held the first of many subsequent community meetings. While the proposal hasn’t changed since its formal rezoning application submitted to the City in September 2017, the meeting was an opportunity to gather feedback from the community before the City delivers a response to the applicant.
Capital Developments and Metropia's proposed redevelopment of the southwest corner of Bloor and Dufferin streets would densify the 2.94 hectare property. Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects and Giannone Petricone Associates, with landscape architects gh3 and heritage specialists ERA Architects, the Bloor-Dufferin redevelopment would see the construction of 9 new buildings ranging in height from 6 to 47 storeys, aiming to create a complete mixed-use community with residential, retail, office, and community spaces proposed. The existing historic Kent Senior Public School would be largely retained and would house a proposed community hub. While the City is reviewing Bloor Collegiate Institute’s Heritage Impact Statement, current plans are that it will not be retained.
A staggering 2,219 residential units are proposed for the neighbourhood, along with 15,780 square metres of retail space, 4,900 square metres of office space, roughly 2,800 square metres of community space, and a public park in the southwest corner. Two new north-south streets are proposed: a public street along the western edge of the site that would be an extension of Pauline Avenue, and a private street through the middle of the site that the design team has dubbed a new 'High Street'. The central High Street would be the main retail strip in the development, with the potential to be closed to vehicular traffic for special events. Pedestrianized “mews” are proposed between each block.
Speaking to a full house of concerned community members, the meeting was led by Local City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão and City Planner Kirk Hatcher—who explained the proposal from a city planning perspective—along with David Pontarini and Ralph Giannone who spoke to the architectural design of the buildings. Bailão gave a short introduction to the history of the site, noting that it was identified as surplus property by TDSB, and that increased density brings a great potential to create a thriving neighbourhood.
Hatcher explained the policy framework that dictates the usage of a redevelopment. Bloor-Dufferin lies within the Official Plan’s boundary for “Avenue” development, where reurbanization is anticipated and encouraged to create new housing and job opportunities while improving the pedestrian environment, the look of the street, shopping opportunities and transit service for community residents. He explained that while the proposal’s height is different from the existing density, the “street walls” fronting the street will make the towers unnoticeable. Hatcher was followed by Pontarini who clarified that the renderings are only meant to show the materiality of the proposal, and that the density and programming is still open to comments from the community.
Hariri Pontarini Architects was tasked to design the master plan, and they approached this proposal by breaking the large property into several blocks, which were then broken down into a mixture of low-rise and high-rise towers. Each block has its own characteristics: the park block limits shadows, Block E buffers Kent School from Dufferin Mall, the central High Street acts as an anchor for the retail units. Following the City’s Tall Building Design Guidelines, the towers are limited to a maximum of 750 square metre floor plates and there is a minimum of 25 metres between towers. This allows sunlight onto the public realm, maintains views of the sky, and provides privacy between facing units.
Giannone ended the presentation with a summary of Giannone Petricone’s role on the projects, which was to design the first 30’ of each building. He expressed sincere gratitude for the neighbourhood, and was very excited about the potential that could enhance Bloordale Village. The design intends to activate the public realm with programming that respects the vitality of the neighbourhood. Central to this idea are the “mews” located in the east-west connectors that will provide space for small scale retail and opportunities for public art to be displayed in the storefronts. It is intended that the mews would accommodate users that “want to be in odd spaces.”
After the presentation, attendees were invited to join self-guided roundtable discussions where they could write their feedback onto a document that was later collected by city planning staff. Representatives from the City walked around to answer questions as these discussions took place.
Many were concerned with the provision of affordable housing in the proposal, and how the development will define affordable housing. This definition could range from affordable rental units, affordable ownership, units dedicated to artists, subsidized rentals that vary by income, affordable units operated by the City, affordable units subsidized by the developer, etc.
There was also concern about park size, and the burden the proposal will place onto the existing Dufferin Grove Park. As it was explained, large scale developments are required to reserve a portion of land relative to the size of the new development (0.4 hectares per 300 units is required for downtown Toronto), but for this property there is a 15% cap on this ratio (i.e. 15% of the total building size will be parkland). There is an acute need for parkland in central Toronto that will be intensified by this development.
Other concerns included building height in relation to the surrounding low-scaled residential areas, the provision of non-profit daycare needed to replace the existing Kinder Grove Infant and Child Care Centre, and the increased demand that will placed on transit, including the already heavily burdened Bloor-Danforth subway line.
A City representative commented that the community should be asking for more in return to ensure that community services, parkland, affordable housing, and investment back into the public realm are provided by the developer.
After the City has processed the feedback from the consultation, they will publish a formal response to the Applicant, and the proposal will continue its journey through the rezoning process.
We will keep you updated as more information about the Bloor-Dufferin redevelopment emerges. In the meantime, additional information about the area's redevelopment is available in our database file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Leave a comment in the space below, or add your voice to the ongoing discussion in our associated Forum thread.
|Related Companies:||Blackjet Inc., Brook Pooni Associates, Capital Developments, ERA Architects, gh3, Giannone Petricone Associates, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Metropia|