Tuesday, October 29, 2013
East Bayfront condo may incorporate affordable rental units purchased by City of Toronto
In a ground-breaking pilot project being unveiled Tuesday, the City of Toronto is proposing to buy between 70 and 75 units in a condominium to be built as part of the recently announced $1.1 billion Bayside neighbourhood development.
The units in the proposed building east of Sherbourne Common and George Brown College would be owned and operated by a non-profit housing company and offer affordable rental housing for low- and modest-income residents, according to a staff report to be debated by the city’s affordable housing committee.
“This is definitely a landmark,” said subcommittee chair Councillor Ana Bailao.
“The fact that this affordable housing is being built so early in the development and the fact that it is going to be incorporated in the same building is remarkable. We haven’t done anything like this anywhere before,” she said.
The affordable apartments, which will have the same range of views as the market condos, will function as a separate entity in the building and will have their own lobby, amenity space and parking. However average unit sizes will be greater than market condo units, with one-bedroom rental units of 590 square feet, two-bedrooms of 725 square feet, and three-bedrooms of 1,000 square feet, according to city documents.
The units, estimated to be worth about $22.5 million, or $312,897 each, are being purchased from developers Hines and Tridel Corp., with $15 million from last spring’s federal-provincial affordable housing program.
The prospective non-profit or co-operative housing company that will own and manage the units will kick in $500,000 and take out a mortgage for the remaining $7 million that will be covered through rents, according to the staff report.
The pilot project is part of the city’s plan to ensure housing in the East Bayfront area is accessible to Torontonians of all incomes, the report adds. Under the city’s Central Waterfront Secondary Plan, 20 per cent of all new housing in the area must be affordable.
The 11- to 12-storey condo will include about 330 residential units, with a grocery story on the ground level, said Hines director Samidha Thakral. But the developer can’t start design or go to market until the city makes a decision on the affordable housing component, she said.
“Bayside was planned to be a community that welcomes the city to the water by integrating market condos with employment and cultural uses, ground-floor retail and affordable housing,” Thakral said. “We like building communities that are good for the city, so we really like that Bayside has everything.”
A handful of affordable apartments have been incorporated into about half a dozen downtown condominium developments in exchange for added height or density under Planning Act provisions.
But this is the first time about 20 per cent of a condominium development in the city is being proposed as affordable rental housing, said Sean Gadon, director of the city’s affordable housing office.
In the past, affordable housing development in communities such as Regent Park has been offered in separate buildings and built after ownership condominiums have been built and sold, he noted.
“The pilot will test an approach where the partnership between the private and non-profit sectors (allows each to) do what they do best — one builds and the other operates,” Gadon said.
If successful, it could be a new model for the future, he added.
Under the proposal, which goes to council next month, the city is buying 33 one-bedroom units, 27 two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units.
The non-profit or co-op will be responsible for selecting tenants from households on, or eligible to be on, the city’s affordable housing waiting list. Rents will be at or below 80 per cent of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s average market rent for Toronto.
For example, a one-bedroom apartment will rent for about $800; a two-bedroom apartment will go for between $950 and $1,000 a month, while a three-bedroom will rent for about $1,100.
Meantime, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities announced Monday a renewed effort to get Ottawa to work with provinces, municipalities and the private sector to develop a long-term housing plan. Bailao, who is representing Toronto in this latest campaign, said she hopes to introduce a motion to council on the issue this fall.
Please share this