Our Avenues are Getting Crowded
And let me tell you, I think that’s a great thing.
It wasn’t long ago that we spoke of midrise development in fairly vague terms. Mainly about the lofty ambitions of lining core arteries with sensibly-scaled, “city building” structures. There were city guidelines produced, discussion panels, a flood of newspaper profiles and the kind of urban design chatter and enthusiasm that I saw the first modern townhome projects give rise to. But 5 years ago there were only a handful of pionering midrise buildings underway, and I had the pleasure of helping to bring many of them to market. But they were few, and fairly far, between.
Today, the field is changing dramatically. We see clusters of mid-rise buildings coming to precisely the neighbourhoods they were meant to inhabit – places where the immediate neighbourhood provides the authentic amenities that these buildings aim to benefit from, and promote. New midrise projects coming to Ossington like Motif and 109OZ – a fiercely proud neighbourhood that has seen unbelievable transition of the years. St. Clair is emerging from its battle with the streetcar to present the brilliantly-named NEST and newly-launched ZIGG. The Junction continues it’s breakneck revival with DUKE. And Kingston Road Village is about to get much busier sidewalks thanks to Kingston&Co, Hunt Club and others projects upcoming.
It’s the turning point when the chatter has turned to action, and a number of developers have turned their attention towards smaller-scale infill development intended to gently integrate itself into existing neighbourhoods. With the right policy framework, neighbourhood support and – perhaps most importantly – developers paying very special attention to the quality of design and function that is essential for these buildings to work, I think this city is going to look dramatically different in 5 year’s time. While the parade of highrises may continue to get the bulk of the press, I think the real urban toronto story is much closer to the ground, in the steady march forward of these genteel midrise buildings that people want to call home.
And I feel that’s a great thing for the city.
This article is part of an occasional piece written by me for Urban Toronto.