Housing Now, an initiative to activate City-owned lands for the development of affordable housing within mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities, has officially begun phase one of the program.
Launched by the City of Toronto in December 2018, the first phase will include the market offering of 11 sites with the potential to create more than 10,000 new residential homes, including approximately 3,700 affordable rental units.
“Through Housing Now we have accelerated the City’s efforts to increase the supply of new rental and affordable housing across Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory. “I am proud to see the progress on this first round of Housing Now sites, which will provide quality affordable homes in communities throughout our city.”
The City’s real estate agency, CreateTO, announced earlier this month that it had retained CBRE as the broker of record to support the marketing of the first four Housing Now properties. Selected for their readiness for market and prime locations along transit lines, the sites include: 50 Wilson Heights Boulevard; 705 Warden Avenue; and 777 Victoria Park Avenue, and 140 Merton Street.
“This is an exciting milestone in the delivery of the Housing Now Initiative,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, a member of the CreateTO Board and the City of Toronto’s Housing Advocate. “This program will stimulate the creation of complete communities with a range of new mixed-income housing in close proximity to commercial and employment areas and transit hubs, providing the opportunity for Toronto residents to live in these new mixed-income developments.”
Toronto’s housing crisis
Housing Now is just one component of the City of Toronto’s Housing Action Plan intended to spur the development of affordable rental, market rental and ownership housing options throughout the housing-strapped city. As per the CreateTO website, all new affordable rental homes developed through the Housing Now initiative must remain affordable for 99 years, and satisfy the needs of households earning between approximately $21,000 and $52,000 per year.
“The opportunity to acquire substantial development land parcels and unlock their development potential on transit-oriented sites in Toronto is exceptionally rare,” said CreateTO CEO Brian Johnston. “Rarer still is the opportunity for developers to participate in an offering process that provides the ability to develop large-scale mixed-income, mixed-use communities while incorporating much-needed affordable housing in Canada’s fastest-growing city.”
The competitive bid process
More than 1,800 private and non-profit groups within CBRE’s database have already received a brochure outlining details of the lands currently on offer in phase one of the program. Interested proponents must execute a confidentiality agreement and satisfy a number of prerequisites in order to be given access to an online data room containing the information required to prepare their bids.
Following the competitive bid process, the selection of the preferred proponents and the formal transaction awards are expected to take place in January 2020. The selection committee will include staff from CreateTO and the Housing Secretariat. Criteria for selection will be based on a number of factors, including:
• experience developing or managing similar projects;
• the depth of affordability proposed;
• financial and funding plan;
• degree of non-profit involvement;
• ability to execute; and
• as well several additional considerations directed by City Council.
Following the market offering process, City and CreateTO staff will report to the CreateTO Board prior to finalizing sale or lease agreements.
“There is significant and growing interest in the Housing Now Initiative,” said Sean Gadon, Executive Director of the City’s Housing Secretariat. “We will continue to outreach with interested organizations and provide ongoing networking opportunities to support the successful delivery of the Housing Now Initiative.”
CreateTO: Toronto’s real estate agency
CreateTO is a multi-disciplinary team of real estate experts with experience in property management, development, planning, portfolio strategy and partner relations. Established in 2018, its mandate is to manage the City’s vast $27 billion real estate portfolio, comprised of more than 8,000 properties. It also develops City buildings and lands for municipal purposes and delivers “client-focused real estate solutions” to City divisions, agencies and corporations.
Build Toronto and the Toronto Port Lands Company are now part of CreateTO. Before the agency was formed, more than 24 divisions and corporations had been involved in a variety of real estate functions and activities.
For more information, visit www.createto.ca.