Toronto Danforth Church Housing Addition | 28m | 8s | R-Hauz | McCallum Sather

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Well.......you don't see this every day.........

We have our first application that is relying on the not yet in force relaxed guidelines for the Danforth. It's a 32-units/18 dwelling rooms, 8 storey, affordable housing proposal from Woodgreen, it's also Mass Timber and Modular.
Due to the reliance on the forthcoming guidelines, Planning has allowed this one to skip Zoning entirely, and go straight to SPA.

The existing building would arguably be historical and/or architectural appealing to some (Church); The intent in this proposal is preserve the existing facade/foyer along Danforth and one other architectural feature at the rear, and build new between those.
Of note here, the building is neither 'listed', nor 'designated', and it was reviewed for those, with Council opting not to include it as a listed 'cultural resource' property relatively recently.

Site as is:

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The App:

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From the Docs:

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Comments: There is much to like here. A very worthwhile initiative to provide much needed affordable housing, innovative construction techniques, efforts to also meet community needs, and both the applicant and the City moving
to endorse the spirit of the new Danforth guidelines to allow this to happen without going through the ZBA process.

All that said, and while noting, on balance, I support this, I do have a few concerns.

I agree w/the choice made by Council not to extend statutory protection to this building. though some will differ, I'm not particularly keen on the existing building from an architectural perspective, not aesthetically, and not in terms of its impact on the retail character of Danforth. I'm sure the applicant is seeking to be a good neighbour here, and to ease any concerns, yet I wonder if we wouldn't be better off with a completely new-build here.

In relation to the above, if there was a consensus to retain the Danforth facade/foyer, I would still wonder at retaining the additional piece of the original building further south. I wonder about the impacts in terms of the relatively small amount of housing being provided, and adverse impacts on the cost of construction.

Lets be frank, the new build portion here looks architecturally atrocious; I'm frankly prepared to let that slip given the worthy cause, but wonder if $$ spent preserving what I perceive to be low-value heritage might have been better used to upgrade the appearance of lower, non-setback floors in the new build, while still having net gains in budget and space for affordable housing.

If the site were organized to extend the new build to Danforth, and along the full length of the the side street, It seems to me that the the affordable housing yield might be an additional 14 units at the lower end, and perhaps 21 or more. (depending on setbacks, and choices made around the proposed courtyard.

On balance, there is so much good achieved here, I'm loathe to delay this, or drive up its costs at all; and I want to laud the good intentions of all parties here; but yet I feel something better might have been achieved here just the same.
 
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I really really like the choice of materials here. The new construction looks plain enough that it allows the historic bits to really stand out against it, while also complimenting it and not being totally boring and therefore ugly. Kudos to them for that
 

The church building dates back to 1911, when the Danforth Church congregation first occupied the site, according to a heritage impact statement included in the application. The development is a joint project between the church and WoodGreen and is proposing a hybrid space in order to preserve as much of the historic church as possible.

“We are excited to not only maintain but increase community benefit at this location with state-of-the-art facilities to support our aging population,” said Mwarigha, vice-president of housing and community services at Woodgreen.

The ground floor where it fronts onto Danforth Avenue will be home to office space of counselling services to support tenants, as well as shared amenity space for tenants and the perish of the existing church. The main entrance and front lobby of the building will be on Bowden Street.

According to the application there will be eight residential units on the ground floor with bachelor and one-bedrooms, on the upper floors there will be 18 dwelling rooms with shared kitchen, laundry etc. on floors four and five and a mix of one bedroom and bachelor units on the sixth to eight floors.

The development is taking advantage of the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative through which WoodGreen received an exemption from a number of associated fees.

“As one of the largest non-municipal affordable housing providers in Toronto, WoodGreen Community Housing is proud to partner with the Rapid Housing Initiative for these two projects, which will provide seniors with critically needed affordable housing and access to the wide range of support services that we offer,” said Anne Babcock, President & CEO of WoodGreen Community Services.

The question of why there isn’t more densification along Danforth Avenue has long confused and confounded urbanists around the city. It’s along a subway line, it’s got green space, schools, everything a condo community might require. With the acknowledgement and focus on the housing crisis, it is even more shocking driving east across the DVP and seeing so little intensification.

Finally, the Danforth is finally in play with this and many other projects on the way, and Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher supports the WoodGreen project.

“At 60 Bowden, the Danforth Baptist Church will be transformed into 50 new affordable and much-needed homes for seniors. It is the first major development on Danforth after the adoption of the Danforth Planning and Heritage Study,” said Fletcher. “There will also be a community benefits agreement for the construction of this project which will provide jobs to local youth. I’m proud to support this initiative and I’d like to thank everyone involved.”
 

To correct Ms. Fletcher's quote, there will 32 homes and 18 beds/SRO. (dwelling units)

That will, in theory, 'house' or take off the street 50 people, which is a good thing; but the 18 dwelling units can't really be called 'homes'; that's just an over-reach.
 
I really really like the choice of materials here. The new construction looks plain enough that it allows the historic bits to really stand out against it, while also complimenting it and not being totally boring and therefore ugly. Kudos to them for that
I completely disagree. I think they did a very poor job of using involving the heritage church in the design on the new building. I feel like it looks cheap from renderings. They have this beautiful old church, I wish they had taken more time to design a building that could accentuate the churches features. We'll see what SPA says.
 
A less haphazard window layout would allow the new portion to blend into the background and not compete with the heritage structure. This is what happens when the exterior design is determined too much by the interior.
 
I completely disagree. I think they did a very poor job of using involving the heritage church in the design on the new building. I feel like it looks cheap from renderings. They have this beautiful old church, I wish they had taken more time to design a building that could accentuate the churches features. We'll see what SPA says.
I'm trusting the process. The only renderings we have so far are garbage
 
Updated render:

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More info:


This is a marked improvement, and the changes are roughly in line with my commentary above. Excellent, no compliants from me!
 

I think the key bit in the above is that Sprott, a charitable foundation from one of Canada's well off families is contributing 4M.

That's only around 0.3% of the patriarch's net worth, but it's still something positive and unusual.

If the Thomson family were equally generous on this file, they would donate roughly 200M to affordable housing in this City, which while wholly inadequate to the magnitude of the problem would still be a welcome contribution.
 
My step-dad aside, I don't think this should get too much opposition. North Riverdale/Playter Estates have quite a few NIMBYs, but typically small seniors buildings don't cause much of a kerfuffle, and it's being championed by the local councillor and MP.
 

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