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Scarborough City Centre : Development News

34 Scarborough City Centre Articles | Page: | Show All

UTSCís secondary plan balances growth and nature

Since approving its master plan in 2011, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) has invested almost a half a billion dollars in infrastructure, including the $205-million Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building and the Instructional Centre.
 
But that’s only the beginning of the reinvention of the campus, which will eventually be linked to rapid transit by the Crosstown LRT, making it more accessible to students, staff and the wider community.
 
“The opportunities here are just accelerating, I think, and we want to be able to leverage the best opportunities we can,” says Brent Duguid, director of partnerships and legal counsel at UTSC.
 
Last month UTSC held a public open house to examine its draft secondary plan, which will provide a finer grain rollout of the masterplan. Several new development projects are currently in the planning stages, including Highland Hall, which is the redevelopment of the old athletic centre that’s been replaced by the Pan Am complex, a new parking structure and a 750-bed undergraduate student residence, which will double the number of student beds at UTSC. A feasibility study for a hotel and conference centre is also in the works. Military Trail, which cuts diagonally across the campus, is being re-aligned, with at-grade retail uses encouraged along it to create an animated and vibrant streetscape and to compensate for the lack of shopping and eating in the area surrounding the sprawling campus. “The larger open spaces will be augmented by a series of walkways, landscaped streets, courtyards, lawns and other open spaces that will provide for an enhanced campus setting” states the presentation delivered at the open house.
 
Despite all the new building, the secondary plan aims to maintain the campus’ relationship with the Highland Creek Ravine, preserving natural and open space particularly in the south of the campus. “It is anticipated that some development, particularly the transit investments and realignment of Military Trail, may impact some of natural resources,” states the open house presentation. “Any impacts will be mitigated through restoration and renaturalization programs elsewhere on campus to ensure a net benefit overall to the campus natural heritage system.”
 
Duguid says the draft secondary plan should be ready for the City of Toronto to review within the next month.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Brent Duguid

Central Toronto saw 93 new development projects last year

Development in Toronto and East York overshadowed growth in Etobicoke York, North York and Scarborough last year, but North York’s Committee of Adjustment was pretty darn busy.

In its 2015 annual report, Toronto City Planning department paints a picture in numbers of how much the city is growing and changing. In the district of Toronto and East York, encompassing the “old” city of Toronto including downtown, there were 93 new development projects, 1,408 applications to the committee of adjustment for smaller changes to properties and an impressive 1,833 applications for heritage permits. In North York, there were 63 new development projects, 1,216 applications to the committee of adjustment and 135 heritage permit applications. In the west, in Etobicoke York, there were 53 new development projects, 871 applications to the committee of adjustment and 114 heritage permit applications.

Things were more sluggish in Scarborough, which saw 45 new development projects, 485 applications to the committee of adjustment and 65 heritage permit applications.

But it’s not all about the numbers. The report highlights projects the city sees as game-changers. The Scarborough Civic Centre Library opened last year and construction began on the Guild Inn/Bickford House revitalization, which will bring a new banquet hall, restaurant and community centre to the heritage site about the Scarborough Bluffs. The Steeles–Redlea Regeneration Area Study has been established to create a planning framework for the parameters for future growth of one of the city’s newly designated Regeneration Areas.

On the waterfront, there’s the second phase of revitalization focusing on the port lands, the new Fort York bridge (which will begin construction soon) linking King Street West and Liberty Village to the Fort York neighbourhood, and the launch of Project: Under Gardiner, which will use a $25-million donation from the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation to create public spaces beneath the western Gardiner from Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue.

Further north, there’s the Finch and Sheppard Light Rail Transit (LTR) Corridors, where the city is working on an updated planning framework to leverage infrastructure investment prior to the opening of the transit routes.

Just this week, Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx just invited three consortium teams to submit proposals to design, build, finance and maintain the Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

Site plan for Scarborough bus garage gets unveiled

After years of debate, the TTC has filed for site plan approval for its new McNicoll bus garage near Steeles and Kennedy in Scarborough.

The $181-million facility will operate 24/7 and will have room for 250 buses, a traffic office, two service lines, an employee parking lot, a repair bay, bus cleaning facilities, a washing area, a body shop and other offices. About 50 per cent of building’s footprint will have a green roof and its energy use, stormwater retention and reuse, and waste management would meet the city’s green standards.

But the project, encompassing about 323,000 square feet, has ruffled a few feathers in its history, dating back to when the TTC started searching for a site in 2003. Over the last year, especially, the TTC received a barrage of complaints about the process and concerns about possible noise, dirt and other traffic and environmental impacts the garage might bring to the neighbourhood. Although the property is designated as heavy-industry employment lands, it is adjacent to the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church, which launched a petition against the garage, and close to other more publicly oriented commercial properties.

Last winter, the TTC argued that the garage would improve transit service in the area, create jobs and provide a new customer base for local retailers and restaurants. It has also altered the design since its original proposal, improving the perimeter landscaping.

The deadline for comment on the Environmental Project Report (EPR) was last month and is now in the hands of the provincial Ministry of the Environment.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: TTC, City of Toronto legal documents

Construction set to begin at Kingston&Co

With demolition almost complete, construction is expected to start soon on the Kingston&Co condos in Scarborough.
 
The eight-storey, 160-unit development from TAS is designed by Teeple Architects, the firm behind the Sherbourne Common Pavilion, Pachter House and the new GO Pedestrian Bridge in Pickering.  With the city calling for more mid-rise developments on Toronto’s main avenues, the condo would add a modern mid-rise touch to an otherwise mixed bag of buildings along Kingston Road in the Upper Beaches. A 2010 report identified the area as a particularly tricky place to turn into a comfy neighbourhood.
 
“The current retail function is not in the form of main-street type retail but rather in the form of plazas, malls and freestanding buildings, which are primarily vehicle dependent,” states the report. “This is the most difficult Avenue portion to plan for with particular concern regarding phasing of the developments and the ability for the mixed-use developments to support retail.”
 
Kingston&Co, which recently won a BILD Award for best suite design, takes over the site of the former Alpine Hotel, which closed in 2011. Unlike so many new downtown project, the building also aims to be family friendly, with larger unit sizes.
 
“There’s a shift in sensibility where people are choosing to live in multi-unit style neighbourhoods,” Mazyar Mortazavi, President and CEO of TAS, told participants at a BILD experts symposium at University of Toronto’s Innis College earlier this month. “People want to live in a village and at the heart of it is a community.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: TAS, City of Toronto

City hears from the public on the Scarborough subway

It looks like the Scarborough subway will indeed be going ahead, after a Feb. 10 council vote quashed Councillor Josh Matlow’s suggestion the issue be re-opened.

The city had just held its first public meetings on January 31 and Feb. 2 about the still-contentious Scarborough subway extension.

Though approved by council in 2013, there is still no funding for the 7.6km, $3.5billion underground connection between Kennedy and Sheppard stations.

The meetings, which were partially intended as information sessions, and partially to elicit feedback, asked for input on which route might be best, the timing for the studies that will have to be undertaken, and more generally, just how the public would like to be involved and consulted on the issue.

The subway extension is meant to be a replacement for the 30-year-old Scarborough Rapid Transit system, the construction of which some attendees remembered causing havoc with their basements, which had to be fixed by the TTC. Longtime resident Narita George told the Toronto Sun after the first of the two meetings that she was worried that is that above-ground project wreaked so much damage, that the much more involved underground construction would do even more.

According to Tim Laspa ,who is co-ordinating the consultation efforts, comments -- which continue to be taken online -- have ranged further afield.

"The McCowan Road and Markham Road corridor options received the most positive comments," he says, and also that "the City should consider provisions for a future expansion of the subway line beyond this extension. Participants identified several important local destination points to consider, including the Scarborough Hospital, Eglinton GO station, Centennial College and University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus."

The public meetings are meant to be the first phase of the project, to be followed, according to the city’s presentation, by choosing the corridor, recommending the alignment — that is, decide on the precise route and where the stations will be — and a final review. The city promised all of these stages would involve both online and in-person interactions.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Tim Laspa

Mural unveiled for Scarborough's Cultural Hotspot

The city has three new murals thanks to Mural Routes, a little-known non-profit that uses the creation of outdoor art to mentor and engage communities.

Two of them are the physical manifestations of a new city project, which they’ve called Cultural Hot Spot, according to which they’ll be naming a succession of under-appreciated parts of town as hot spots to draw attention to what’s already happening there, as well as encourage and in some cases under-write new initiatives.

The first was east and south Scarborough, and the murals shepherded by Mural Routes,  are as close to the gateways of this area as they could manage. One is at the junction of Kingston Road and the Danforth, the other on Old Kingston Road facing east, just west of the village strip.

“When the organization started, initially the intention was to take the art our of the galleries and put them onto the street for those people who are not comfortable going into galleries or are not familiar or comfortable with different forms of art,” says Karin Eaton, spokeswoman for Mural Routes. “In the beginning, it was filling the blank walls with art, and it became more of a sharing program so we actually like to share all the information we’ve learned so we’ve become a hub for information and resource gathering about murals.”

The mural at Kingston Road and Danforth, unveiled two weeks ago, is the result of a competition won by established mural artist Bill Wrigley (responsible for well-known murals across the city, including at By the Way Cafe and The Senator). The easternmost one was a more communal effort, created in conjunction with the Morningside Library’s introduction to mural art program.

In addition to these, the most recent one, just unveiled, is by the artist known as Media, at Woodbine and Gerard.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Karin Eaton

Moving on up: Community college gets a residence

Ground broke last week on a new residence that will form the gateway to Centennial College's Scarborough campus.

Designed by Donald Schmitt, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects, the new building will house 740 beds, a rooftop conference centre, and a glass-walled culinary school and restaurant on the ground floor. It will double the height of the current tallest building on campus, a library also designed by Diamond Schmitt.

"It will be the first building you see as you approach the campus," Schmitt says, "and it's designed specifically to be the landmark that defines the entry. It will be eight storeys in height, so it will be seen from the 401, and it will give the college quite a bit of presence."

Though the facade and materials will not match the library, Schmitt says the massing and configuration will complement the earlier building.

"We're trying to articulate each of the parts of the building," he says, "with a high level of transparency in the culinary areas, and on every floor of the residences there are these enormous lounges that are all clad in glass, so there will be huge bay windows that project on every level on all four facades."

One of the more novel aspects of the building has less to do with how it was designed than how came together. It's a partnership between Centennial and Knightstone Capital Management, who are the developers and will be managing the building once it's complete. (As Schmitt points out, though government funding is available for academic buildings, academic institutions have to come up with their own schemes for residences.)

Schmitt estimates the 353,500 square foot building, for which Knightstone will be seeking LEED Silver certification, will be ready for students by September, 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Donald Schmitt

South Scarborough becomes city's first official cultural hub

It can sometimes seem that all of Toronto is a cultural hotspot of some description. From Dundas Square to the Ossington Strip, King West to Leslieville, things seem to be forever percolating.

But the city of Toronto wanted to systematize it, and in the process perhaps expand our notion of what, and more importantly where, a cultural hotspot could be.

So, on the recommendation of the city's Creative Capital Gains report, community cultural co-ordinator Andrea Raymond-Wong and others are establishing what she is calling "a rotating cultural hotspot in the city of Toronto," enabling the city and its citizens to focus on art, culture, and community.

The first of them is in South Scarborough.

"In part, it's about celebrating and marketing some of the things that are already happening," Raymond-Wong says. "There's already a wealth of creativity happening in Scarborough. There's a philharmonic orchestra, and you've got a lot of local businesses, it's a neighbourhood of strip malls, a lot of independent businesses, and there are a lot of green spaces."

Note the mention of strip malls as a positive. This bodes well for the program.

Launched May 2, the program has a budget of about $150,000 for each hotspot, in addition to what Raymond-Wong refers to as $200,000 worth of leverage from partners and sponsors.

In Scarborough, the initiative includes the creation of two gateway murals by Mural Roots, art in storefronts in the Crossroads-Danforth BIA by Kalpna Patel, a writing program for seniors that will result in a published anthology of their work and the Next Project, which aims through talks, workshops and other programs to foster the talent of the next generation of Scarborough artists.

The program runs until October, at which point Raymond-Wong says it will rotate to somewhere in Etobicoke.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Andrea Raymond-Wong

City offers homeowners low-interest loans for green retrofits

It just got easier being green.
 
As of now, the city is offering $10 million worth of low-interest loans to single-family dwelling owners looking to retrofit their house in certain neighbourhoods around the city, but were previously dissauded by the associated costs of doing so.

"At its meeting of July 2013, Toronto City Council unanimously approved a $20-million pilot energy efficiency pilot program for the residential sector," says Rosalynd Rupert, a communications officer with the city.

"$10 million in funding is to be allocated to the Home Energy Loan Program, geared to single-family houses. HELP is designed to advance funding to consenting property owners interested in undertaking qualifying energy and water improvements with repayment via installments on the property tax bill."
 
It's a pilot project for the moment, available in Black Creek, Toronto Centre/Rosedale, the Junction/High Park, and South Scarborough.
 
"The initial pilot neighbourhoods are the same areas where Enbridge Gas is offering the Community Energy Conservation Program, which offers up to $2,000 in rebates and incentives for energy retrofits," Rupert says. "Also, in the pilot neighbourhoods, the city is collaborating with local groups such as SNAP [Black Creek] and Project Neutral [Riverdale-Junction] to jointly promote HELP to local homeowners."
 
According to Rupert, this is a new approach to funding for Toronto, one the City hopes it will be able to extend across the city and use for other initiatives in the future.
 
"Using local improvement charges for energy retrofits is new to Ontario and Canada. A similar financing program for hot water heaters is being rolled out in Halifax," Rupert says.

"The origin of this type of financing traces to Berkeley, California, in 2008. Various US jurisdictions have launched... programs that function similarly to HELP. How they work is municipalities/regional governments issue special bonds to raise funds for a municipal loan program that could cover renewable energy, water conservation or energy efficiency measures. The loans, including interest, are recovered via the property tax bill."
 
Maybe the best part of the whole deal is that there is no credit check to qualify for the loans. As long as you’re in the right neighbourhood, and your property taxes are up to date (and you get your mortgage-holder’s approval), you’re in. Interest rates are 2.5 per cent for five years, up to 4.25 per cent for 15 year terms.

Application forms are available at the city's website.
 
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rosalynd Rupert

Scarborough's Parkway Mall LCBO grows by 50 per cent

A new LCBO opened in at the Parkway Mall on Ellesmere Road in Scarborough, roughly 50 per cent larger than the one it's replacing.

At 12,000 square feet, the new shop will have 1,875 drinks of various sorts, including 300 Ontario wines, and the walk-in beer fridges, with 650 linear feet of shelved beer. These fridges are becoming standard in the new shops to compete with the foreign-owned Beer Stores.

According to LCBO spokeswoman Lisa Murray, the store serves a population of about 60,000 in the Ellesmere/Victoria Park area, a number that the LCBO expects to grow by about 3 per cent in the next decade.

The LCBO, which turns more than a billion and a half dollars in profit annually, bases its decision to add or expand stores on extensive demographic research, which makes new and expanded shops good bellwethers of change, growth and often economic iprovements in a neighbourhood.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Lisa Murray

Chief Planner talks suburban mobility

At Monday’s meeting of the Chief Planner’s Roundtable, consultant Jane Farrow announced to the 200 attendees that 60 per cent of the people living in eight so-called tower neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs do not have drivers' licenses.
This is big news.

These suburbs, built at a time when cars seemed the natural tools for urban expansion, are no longer inhabited by car people. They are, in fact, decreasingly suburbs at all, but rather less dense cities of their own, and as Vaughan and Markham, among others, seek to redress the change in various ways, the Chief Planner’s Roundtable is looking into how people do, can and should move around.

"A tremendous number of them walk," Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat says, "even when walking conditions aren’t that good."

So one of the ways Keesmaat would like to address that is by studying how and where people are getting around now, and adapting the now outmoded infrastructure to accommodate them.

Some aspects of this could be relatively easy, like making sure paths are shoveled, taking down fences that obstruct natural routes, and keeping them well lit after dark. But there are more profound ways to address the issue as well.

"It's about how we can re-adapt very suburban, car-oriented environments," Keesmaat says, "by getting a much finer street network, and adding development parcels, recognizing the importance of land-use planning and infrastructure changes in order to increase the options."

In other words, as these suburbs expand, they expand with these more reasonable, responsive forms of transportation and mobility in mind.

By the end of the roundtable, which was open to the public but attended mostly by those in related professions, they came up with a list of seven things that, Keesmaat says, need to happen now, including improving the walking infrastructure where people walk already, ensuring walking and cycling infrastructure links up with transit, improving data collection so future decisions can be made on solid ground, improving signage, loosening land-use controls to allow for more organic change as it is warranted, develop to allow people to live closer to where they work, and encourage individual "champions" to get behind significant infrastructure investments in these suburbans and push them through.

Video records of this and previous roundtables are available on the chief planner’s website.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Keesmaat

Council considers Scarborough transit options today

"When they voted in May to reconsider, the vote was 35-9 to look at the Danforth subway extension."

So says Joe Pennachetti, the city’s manager, expressing what in his view is the likelihood that council will vote to approve and fund the subway extension into Scarborough, overturning the previous commitment to making it part of the city’s new light rapid transit (LRT) system.

Council is considering the issue today, and may make a decision right away, or defer the issue for further consultation.

"We had literally 10 days to prepare the report that should have taken three or four months," Pennachetti says of the document council is discussing.

"What Planning is saying is that it's difficult to get final impacts for the whole system without doing more analysis. The one piece where there's some conern is that if we move on the Scarborough subway now, it will put an added burden on the downtown subway, and we've already got problems getting the downtown relief line done, so what we're saying is, we'd have to hurry that up, too."

So, one subway extension begets another.

And in addition to the billions that are being bandied about, there is one more extra expense involved in shifting transit gears.

"If council approves the subway, we’ll have to pay Metrolinx the sunk cost money," Pennachetti says, referring to the $85 million already spent on staff, research and property acquisition for the LRT.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Joe Penachetti

ME Condos breaks new ground in Scarborough

First, it was the Entertainment District, then Bathurst and St. Clair, and now the Lash Group are betting that Markham and Ellesmere in Scarborough will be the next big condo spot.

"It's an up-and-coming neighbourhood that's underdeveloped, and hasn't been developed in many years," says Lash president Larry Blankenstein of the suburban area that currently hosts mostly 70s-style slab buildings.

It's a big development for the area, with plans for more than a thousand units over four acres. At least as importantly, Blankenstein's planning 13,000 square feet of ground-level retail. Currently, the closest major retail space is a drive away at Scarborough Town Centre.

The first 287 units are on sale now, and if things go to plan, Blankenstein hopes to break ground in the fall of 2014, with completion scheduled for late 2016 or early 2017.

The buildings were designed by Turner Fleischer, with interiors by Tanner Hill Associates.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Larry Blankenstein

New chairlift at Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre cuts wait times

Good news for urban winter sports enthusiasts: a new chairlift at Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre drastically reduces lift wait times.  

"Four people can go up on every chair. They used to wait about 20 minutes at the bottom, and now the most they'll wait is 10," says Jeff Carmichael, recreation supervisor at the centre, which is located at Bathurst and Sheppard.

"We are really focused on customer service," Carmichael says. "If someone went down the hill in a minute or two and had to wait 20 minutes to get back up the hill, it wasn't an entirely positive experience."

The old, two-seat lift had been bought used in 1992 from Horseshoe Valley and had itself replaced a T-bar. According to Carmichael, the new lift has been in the capital planning process since 2004-05.

The seats, longtime city skiiers will be happy to hear, are now padded as well. Day passes are $30.

The $2.3-million park enhancement began operation on Dec. 31 and was officially opened by the mayor and Councillor Norm Kelly on Jan. 4.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jeff Carmichael

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]


United Way's $800K tower project sets sights on Rexdale & Orton Park

The suburban slabs are about to get prettier, and possibly happier.

Last year, the United Way issued a report called Poverty by Postal Code 2: Veritcal Poverty, in which they asserted that poverty is especially intransigent in the citys outer areas, and most particularly in the high-rise apartments there.

After interviewing 2,800 residents of such towers, the United Way determined that though most of these towers were solid structures and an asset to the city and its residents, there were both long- and short-term problems that needed to be resolved. Broader issues—like long-term housing strategies and neighbourhood-improving by-laws—take broader and longer-term approaches. But there were other complaints residents had that could be fixed pretty quickly.

"Residents told us they needed community space," says United Way president and CEO Susan McIsaac. "They wanted space where children could play, they wanted buildings that looked nicer, they wanted to reclaim some of the common space that had been lost to storage."

So they set aside $800,000 to make the slabs more livable, and this week, the costing is being figured out so that changes in the first two neighbourhoods in Rexdale (at a cluster of towers centred on 2667 Kipling) and Orton Park, can be completed within 12 months. Similar improvements to two other pilot areas, yet to be determined, could be done within 12 months of that.

An NFB production, called the Thousandth Tower, has also been produced in tandem with this tower renewal.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Susan McIsaac

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

34 Scarborough City Centre Articles | Page: | Show All
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