Last week, Sierra Communities (developer) and my friend Gabriel Fain (architect of Mackay Laneway House fame) submitted the above development proposal for 2760 Dundas Street West in the Junction. It is a beautiful proposal. So not surprisingly, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are the first batch of comments from Urban Toronto:
It also happens to be one block west of our Junction House project, so I definitely would have been annoyed if somebody proposed something ugly here. I am 99.9% biased, but I think the Junction has some of the best new mid-rise buildings in the city. Presumably, this is what “Mrgeosim” was getting at with their comment about “the number of good proposals for this neighbourhood.”
But here’s the thing. This is a relatively small proposal. It’s a 6-storey mid-rise building with 28 new homes on top of a tiny 482 square meter site (16m frontage). This makes it a challenging new development to execute on. So the fact that this is required to go through the typical rezoning and site plan processes is, in my opinion, a painful problem.
We should be doing everything we can to encourage these kinds of new housing developments all across the city. And that necessarily means removing as many barriers as possible. A pair of development applications and a few community meetings may seem benign, but they’re not. They add time and real costs that then need to be passed onto future residents.
There is also a very valid question around what kind of development charges (or impact fees) we should be levying on projects of this scale. If you want to build a laneway suite in the City of Toronto, you can have the development charges deferred and eventually forgiven. Why? Because we want more rental housing and we have arguably recognized that it’s important for project feasibility.
Should the same apply if you’re building 2 new homes, or perhaps 28 new homes? At what point should the “impacts” kick in and the fees be levied? And might there be an argument that adding many new homes on top of small 482 square meter parcels is actually an incredibly efficient way of using existing public infrastructure? I think so.
Congratulations to the team on a beautiful proposal! I’m looking forward to this being our neighbor.
Image: Gabriel Fain Architects
Selfishly, I am hoping that the Junction becomes an incubator for great architecturally nuanced midrise along Dundas (and Annette). While this proposal is a great sign, bringing this many new residents into the neighbourhood has to be met with concurrent investments in infrastructure and city services – especially transit and better street design to manage traffic at Dundas and Keele. While there are a number of TTC subway stations relatively close by, the Junction itself is highly dependent on the Junction bus which is not terribly reliable and cycling infrastructure through the main part of the Junction itself remains poor. Let’s design complete communities.
What do you suggest for a mobility upgrade here?
Ha – don’t ask me to actually get practical! I’m not an expert, but I would love to see some sort of thoughtful extension of the railpath bike infrastructure west into the Junction, I also wonder if reducing/eliminating on-street parking on Dundas to ease the pinch point at Keele would be helpful (if unpopular). I am also looking forward to seeing how we are articulate the connections to the upcoming Old Weston Go station at St. Clair.