Toronto has a rich history of its churches playing integral roles in its many communities, going all the way back to the early 19th century. In the East-End Riverdale neighbourhood, Danforth Church serves as a welcoming stalwart of the community with progressive values. Now, a unique Site Plan Approval submission from WoodGreen Community Housing Inc proposes a building with affordable housing that would retain elements of the existing church.

Looking south to 285 Danforth Avenue, designed by CMV Group Architects for WoodGreen Community Housing Inc

Danforth Church has been at the corner southwest corner of Danforth Avenue and Bowden Street since 1911. The 1.5-storey building is openly supportive of LGBTQ+ rights and encourages the involvement of youth in the community. There is a church addition built later, with the property at 285 Danforth Avenue forming a rectangle about 983m² in area. The site is east of the major intersection of Danforth and Broadview Avenue, and within walking distance of Broadview subway station.

Looking south at Danforth Church, image from submission to City of Toronto

In keeping with the church’s themes of community and looking to the future, the proposed addition of housing to the site features some unique elements. The design by CMV Group Architects includes mass timber construction that offers a low-carbon solution in the face of climate change, while the proposed affordable housing is intended to support low-income individuals. Portions of the church would be retained to continue as part of the community.

Looking west to 285 Danforth Avenue, designed by CMV Group Architects for WoodGreen Community Housing Inc

The eight-storey building would stand at 24.0m excluding the mechanical penthouse. A base building of five storeys is proposed to incorporate part of the church building and façade along Danforth Avenue. The design entails taller elements in the centre of the site, with step-backs forming a transition to the back of the property. While no vehicle parking spaces are included in the proposal, keeping in theme with its environmentally conscious build, there would be 16 bicycle parking spots.

Looking west from Bowden Street to the subject site, image from submission to City of Toronto

As a mixed-use building, the residential programme calls for 32 units and 18 dwelling rooms, all operated by WoodGreen to be “affordable, supportive, rental housing.” The development is intended for vulnerable people in the community, focused on senior citizens. The residential spaces’ design is intended to allow for socialization and accessibility.

There would also be a non-residential area on the ground floor operated by the church, including spaces for dining, counselling, and recreation. In total, there would be 2,053m² of residential gross floor area, with 196m² and 302m² of indoor and outdoor amenity space respectively.

An aerial view of the site and surrounding property, south is at the top, image from submission to City of Toronto

As a hybrid of old and new, 285 Danforth Avenue would retain the unique build of Danforth Church while looking ahead to the future of the city. The proposal stands out through its combined goals of historical preservation, environmental consciousness, and helping those in need within the community.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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