Rental housing proposed for iconic Toronto site

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vancouver-based architect Gregory Henriquez recently unveiled his vision for Toronto’s iconic Honest Ed’s site at Bloor St. and Bathurst St., which includes plans for 1,000 purpose-built rental housing units. In partnership with developer Westbank Corp., Henriquez revealed the conceptual Bloor & Bathurst community proposal for 55 buildings with residential, retail and restaurant space at a community meeting on March 3.

In stark contrast with Toronto’s surge in new condominium developments, the $100-million project is slated to house a residential component that features rental units exclusively, a response to the city’s low rental vacancy rates. Plans include space for two, three and four-bedroom apartments in structures of varying heights as well as amenities such as a daycare, bicycle valet parking, auto share facilities, and electric car charging stations.

Buildings ranging from four to six storeys in height will be grouped together and connected through shared corridors. A 29-storey building with a reduced carbon footprint, live-work spaces, and artist studios are also being incorporated into the project plans.

The development proposal and its conceptual designs remain a work in progress and an official application to the City has not yet been made. However, Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who attended the meeting, expressed her excitement in an exchange with NOW Magazine’s Ben Spurr.

“The rental component is a really exciting piece of this,” said Keesmaat, who indicated that her department has grown increasingly concerned about the City’s lack of new rental construction.

Plans for the project, including the prioritization of density along transit corridors, generous public spaces, and sustainable mixed-use components, are all in accordance with Toronto’s planning policies.

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