Canada's Condominium Magazine
Construction of the revitalized Alexandra Park community in downtown Toronto began just this month, and the huge redevelopment has already been given an award for planning excellence, Neighbourhood Planning category, by the Canadian Institute of Planners. Alexandra Park is an eighteen-acre site, originally developed in the late 1960s, bounded by Dundas, Spadina, Queen and Bathurst.
The design excellence award, which went to Urban Strategies Inc., must be gratifying to all of the project’s stakeholders, for a great deal of planning, with valuable input from residents, went into the master plan for the project. The process took more than five years and involved hundreds of meetings, many of them involving the residents who will live there. A key component of the “visioning process” that resulted in the final plan was a set of ten guiding principles which, Toronto Community Housing says, distinguish this project from any other it has undertaken.
The first principle is “Zero displacement” of the existing community’s residents; no one will have to leave the community while the demolition and reconstruction are underway. Other principles include “providing more than housing” and “nurturing a green, clean and beautiful community.” In line with the city’s green building policies, the community is being redeveloped according to sustainability principles, including less concrete surfacing, more green, open spaces, greater density, green roofs throughout the site, energy-efficiency in all buildings, and building to LEED gold standards.
Situated between the thriving downtown neighbourhoods of Kensington Market and Queen Street West, Alexandra Park is one of the most centrally located properties in Toronto Community Housing’s portfolio, and is amongst the highest in land value. This 18-acre site not only benefits from a prime downtown location, but it is also well-served by public transit, retail and commercial amenities and a variety of recreational and social services.
Alexandra Park Planning Rationale
Demolition began last February, a bittersweet moment no doubt for many as they watched homes they had once occupied being bulldozed. But there is the promise of new and better homes to come, with a great deal more in the way of community services and amenities—three new parks, basketball courts, a larger community centre, improved pedestrian access, new connector streets to the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Another unique feature of the project is the blend of rent-geared-to-income apartments and townhouses, and market-value condominiums. Tridel will build the condominiums, named SQ at Alexandra Park, for Spadina and Queen, the nearest main intersection. The condo building is designed by Teeple Architects, with interiors by UNION31, and sits on Cameron Street in the heart of the Queen West neighbourhood, with the vibrant Kensington Market to the north and Chinatown to the east.
Construction of phase 1 is expected to be completed in stages between now and 2018/2019.