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Tag Archives: housing project

Soft site redevelopment key to transforming Queen Street West

Ward 19 councillor working with community on future of neighbourhood

Erin Hatfield – InsideToronto.com

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Queen Street campus is a leading example of soft site redevelopment.

Sitting on 26 acres of land in downtown Toronto, CAMH wasn’t being used to its potential.

Not only will the current redevelopment transform the face of mental health and addictions care, but is also well on its way to transforming that portion of Queen Street West.

“We are very much concerned with trying to build a positive asset for the community, not just a better hospital,” said Susan Pigott, CAMH vice-president of communication and community engagement.

Plans for the site include CAMH administration offices and facilities as well as storefronts, a client-run cafe, as well as a parking and utilities garage.

“The construction right on Queen West at Lower Ossington is an affordable housing project, it is not part of CAMH,” she said. “It will have storefronts and we know that Shoppers (Drug Mart) is going in there for sure and there are a few other businesses that the developers are speaking to.”

Plans also include an Intergenerational Wellness Centre and green spaces. The plan will also extend the streets, opening the grounds up to the existing grid system.

“We are hoping people will walk right through the CAMH development rather than go around it the way people do now,” Pigott said. “We are hoping that having a welcoming atmosphere and having the streets go through will encourage more intermingling between CAMH and the surrounding community.”

Just across the street from CAMH, an old boarding house was demolished and new condos are taking form there. To the east along Queen, looking at soft sites in the strip of Queen Street between Bathurst and Dovercourt, there are people who see much potential for this already trendy area.

Luke Fraser and Michael Floyd are fourth year urban planning students at Ryerson University. They are members of a team working with Councillor Mike Layton in Ward 19 to analyze sites and consult with the community, with the end goal of creating an online resource for the community that looks at potential and approved developments.

They are also working to outline a community checklist of what neighbours want and need in terms of development in the area.

The men point out a single story TD Bank on a corner lot, a gas station with a large parking lot and an old auto garage that now stands empty, which could all be classified as soft sites and developed into better use of the land they occupy.

It is changing the face of West Queen West, but could this development inspire its neighbours to do the same?

Layton said his ideal Queen West would develop in such a way that the physical characteristics of the buildings respect the historic feeling of Queen West, but provide the level of density required to maintain a main street.

“So that it not only has restaurants and fancy show stores, but that it also can keep the remaining fruit market, the local music store,” he said. “All the little pieces that make up a neighbourhood.”

Along with the physical development of the strip, Layton said he also needs to figure out how to get people moving along the streetcar line faster and balance the needs of the Trinity Bellwoods Park users.

Robert Sysak, the executive director of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area, said the stretch between Bathurst and Dovercourt has endless opportunity to grow to become an even more exciting part of the city.

The large building at the southeast corner of Queen Street West and Bathurst is slated to become a CB2 furniture store that will drastically change that corner, Sysak said. And the lease at Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, which has a large paved frontage, comes up in 2013, Sysak said.

An old church near Bathurst on the south side of Queen was recently sold and is to become condos, which keep the facade of the building.

“This whole area has so many different opportunities at different spots,” Sysak said.

“There will be changes that not everyone is pleased with and where others will be because there is diverse taste but it moves forward, but that is what is exciting about it.”

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

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor 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.

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