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Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: waterfront revitalization

City shouldn’t mess with Waterfront Toronto’s success

State of waterfront address a reminder of how far city has come — and how far it has to go.

Christopher Hume – Toronto Star

At this point, Waterfront Toronto’s success speaks for itself. Revitalization still has a long way to go, but a decade into a 35-year process, things are looking good.

Comment: Finally. It has taken SO long to get here. But now that it has started, hoo boy, it is going gangbusters!

Though the argument for excellence has never gained traction in Toronto, WT CEO John Campbell made a pretty convincing case for it at his State of the Waterfront Address April 1.

As the departing head of the tripartite corporation pointed out, the result of the agency’s $1.3-billion expenditure is $2.6 billion in direct private-sector investment and a further $10.4 billion in indirect investment.

Underpass Park
As Campbell also explained, using a counter-intuitive yet enlightened strategy, WT put much of its money in the public realm, the part that usually comes last. Starting with the “frills” — Sugar Beach, Sherbourne Common, HTO, Underpass Park, Corktown Common, etc. — enabled people to see past the grime to the huge potential of these former industrial lands.

“Building amenities first is not the normal model for developers,” Campbell told an attentive audience of several hundred. “But this is about more than real estate. Revitalization is not redevelopment.”

Try telling that to your average builder, or city councillor. By acting as the “master developer,” WT can bring a more holistic perspective to the process. That means ensuring that new buildings are constructed to the highest environmental standards, with leading-edge technology, no more than a four- or five-minute walk from transit. It also means architectural excellence and a public realm that’s second to none.

Comment: Finally we have a serious push to more green building. Why has this taken so long?

Daniels City of the Arts
Don’t forget that, aside from building giant flood barriers, cleaning vast quantities of contaminated soil and purifying dirty water, the real job here is to create desire. The amount of construction on the waterfront and surroundings is a clear indication that WT has figured out that aspect of things.

Campbell also discussed the recently announced Daniels Waterfront development, an ambitious mixed-use project that has already lined up a number of cultural agencies as tenants. Located on private property — the site of the old Guvernment night club — the scheme lives up to both WTs requirements and its spirit. It will even extend Sugar Beach across Queens Quay and give it a new northern addition.

But there are issues, most notably the scheme to expand the Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport to accommodate jets. “Were very concerned about the scale of airport expansion,” Campbell told a loudly cheering crowd. “Whats the impact of that sort of change, not just adding 200 metres of dirt in the lake at either end of the runway? And how does it fit into the overall plan?”

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Indeed, island airport expansion flies in the face of everything WT and the governments that support it have been doing on the waterfront since 2001, when the organization was formed.

The Guvernment
There are other challenges, too, such as whether WT will have the financing it needs to fulfill its mandate. The original $1.5 million is almost gone, and no commitments have been forthcoming.

Ideally, WT will be able to raise cash through the sale of properties that it has planned and prepared for development. The next part of WT’s agenda includes re-naturalizing the mouth of the Don River, building a second flood protection berm, transit and public realm improvements.

In the meantime, the city is halfway through yet another review of WT, which, if it weren’t so petty, would almost be funny. The arrival of city planners and politicians on the waterfront would be the kiss of death for the one local city-building body worthy of the name.

Only in Toronto is civic success a cause for civic concern.

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.