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Looking to mend the neighbourhood fabric

Streetcar Developments will link communities along Queen Street East with 4.5-acre Riverside Square condo project

Ryan Starr – Toronto Star

Les Mallins and his team at Streetcar Developments have taken strides to revitalize the stretch of Queen Street East that serves as the spine of the Riverside neighbourhood, launching three condo projects there over the past seven years.

The company generated big buzz this past May when it announced the purchase of the historic but decaying New Broadview Hotel, home to infamous Jilly’s strip club. Streetcar plans to restore the landmark 1883 building – at the northwest corner of Queen Street and Broadview Avenue – to its former glory, likely as a boutique hotel.

The Riverside neighbourhood, stretching along Queen Street East from the Don Valley Parkway east to Degrassi Street, is also home turf for Streetcar; its corporate headquarters are on Davies Avenue, along the east side of the Don Valley Parkway. “We’re obviously big fans of the area,” says Mallins, the firm’s founder and president.

Comment: You and me both, I grew up on Broadview, just north of Dundas.

But while Queen Street, east of Broadview, has witnessed an increased vibrancy in recent years, Mallins notes, a considerable hole in the urban fabric exists to the west: on properties south of Queen Street East, between Broadview and the DVP. The space is occupied by a Toyota dealership, old warehouses and stores lining Queen, plus a fair amount of underutilized or vacant land. Mallins calls the site “a hard stop” on the section of Queen Street East.

Riverside Square condo project
But not for long.

Streetcar announced it had acquired 4.5 acres of that land this past August, and Mallins sat down with the Star last week to outline his ambitious plans to create there a dynamic, new, mixed-use community.

Dubbed Riverside Square, the project is aimed at enlivening Queen Street East and connecting a gradually gentrifying Riverside with the city’s rapidly expanding downtown. It now reaches to the western edge of the Don River, thanks to Waterfront Toronto’s ongoing redevelopment of the West Don Lands.

Comment: Is it wrong of me to say how much I love everything Streetcar does? Like in a weird way, not quite creepy, but a little too much.

Riverside Square will comprise four building complexes of varying heights, with nearly 900 residential units. The structures will be taller near the centre of the site and step down to four storeys along Queen Street East – where much of the project’s retail will be located – keeping with the height and character of the existing architecture.

“We’re reinvigorating this part of Queen,” Mallins says, “but we need to also stick to a scale of building that’s appropriate for Queen. So we’ll push the taller portions of the site to the south.”

The first condo to go on sale at Riverside Square is a 24-storey tower at the southern end of the site, overlooking Eastern Avenue. The building – poised to be the tallest east of the DVP – will incorporate a refurbished warehouse at its base, notes architect Roland Rom Colthoff, a principal with RAW Design. The first phase also includes a 12-storey building in the middle of the site and a seven-storey building that will step down to four floors along Queen.

Riverside Square site plan
RAW Design is responsible for the first phase of Riverside Square. Giannone Petricone Associates will handle the second, which will include several more interconnected buildings on the eastern portion of the property.

Colthoff says he’s designed the 24-storey tower to be “recognizable and iconic but not super-busy,” featuring a fritted glass facade. A preliminary rendering shows the tower in two distinct parts, with a portion of the facade undulating up and down. “We felt the shape of the building was so unusual, we didn’t have to work the materials much. We let the form speak on its own.”

Condos at Riverside Square range from one-bedroom units to three-bedroom-plus-den suites, all with outdoor spaces. Prices start at $239,900. Amenities on offer include a fitness centre, party room, guest suites, swimming pool and rooftop terrace.

Shops, services and condo amenities will be located on the lower levels of the buildings, including a grocery store that will come in the second phase (Mallins wouldn’t give details about the tenant since the deal is still being finalized.) There will also be a daycare provider, a nod to the young families expected to populate the community.

Part of the plan will see Munro Street, a northwest road that currently stops just south of Queen, extended into Riverside Square as a “woonerf”-style street giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. The street will terminate in a public square that will serve as the centre of the new community.

Riverside Square condo rendering
The roadway will then turn and run east-west through the site, eventually connecting to East Don Roadway. “We wanted to bring the street grid south,” Mallins explains, “but make it wider and pedestrian-friendly and not so auto-focused.

“We need to draw people into the site from the street and create a destination at the end,” he adds, noting that eateries and cafes will open onto the square. “But nobody will experience what’s going on back here unless it’s done well.”

To the south of the Riverside Square site, Streetcar is proposing the creation of a 3.5-acre green space within the circular Eastern Avenue-DVP on-ramp. The park would provide a connection to a new cross-river, pedestrian-cyclist path along Eastern Avenue that would link Riverside Square with Corktown Common, the park that anchors the West Don Lands across the river.

Comment: This is what I love so much about this project. It is building community through connections. It is not just condos, but improving the whole neighbourhood.

“I think this is the best thing we can do for people in the east end,” Mallins says. “Everybody who wants to take a bike from Leslieville, Riverside, the Beach – this could give them the access they’re dying for to the West Don Lands and beyond.”

When Streetcar bought the Broadview Hotel earlier this year, much chatter focused on how the building’s redevelopment would be a catalyst for badly needed change along a sketchy stretch of Queen Street East

But Mallins doesn’t quite see it that way. “Could the area do without a strip club on the corner?” he says. “Sure. But beyond that we thought it was OK the way it was.”

His aim with both the hotel redevelopment and the Riverside Square master plan, he explains, is to attract more attention to a neighbourhood that he thinks is well on its way up.

“This isn’t a rescue mission,” he says. “Riverside is a great place to live right now.”

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.


Looking to mend the neighbourhood fabric
Article Name
Looking to mend the neighbourhood fabric
Les Mallins and his team at Streetcar Developments have taken strides to revitalize the stretch of Queen Street East that serves as the spine of the Riverside neighbourhood, launching three condo projects there over the past seven years.