Over one hundred of our neighbours braved the lowest temperatures of the winter to attend an open house on the redevelopment of Dufferin Mall.
Primaris Management held the meeting in Bloor Collegiate on Monday, 21 January, to give our community the first look at preliminary plans to redevelop two parking lots on the north side of the mall property, adjacent to Croatia and Dufferin Streets. Primaris, which owns Dufferin Mall, proposes four apartment towers rising between 11 and 39 stories plus retail space on the 4.5-acre site.
The meeting was informal. A series of posters detailing the history of the mall site and the apartment tower proposal lined the school’s cafeteria. Primaris VP of development Matthew Kingston circulated, talking to community members and explaining the plans. The public was encouraged to post short comments.
By the end of the evening we noticed a lot of post-it comments about the neighbourhood’s need for affordable housing and the need for more green space, especially in light of the thousands of new residents who will live in the many new developments proposed for the area. Many community members also articulated concerns about how the Dufferin bus and subway station are already at capacity, as well as worries about access to local public schools, many of which are also at capacity. What impact will so many new residents have on the TTC? Where will new residents go to school?
There will be a second open house in the spring for further input. Primaris plans to file a formal development proposal with the City in the spring or summer.
Eric Turcotte, a partner in Urban Strategies and a member of the development team, said retail space built as part of the project will add between 40,000 and 60,000 sq. ft. (For comparison, Dufferin Mall has 550,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space.)
Turcotte said Urban Strategies and the development team have been meeting since late fall on the development process. Urban Strategies and Quadrangle Architects are highly regarded Toronto companies.
City Councillor Ana Bailão was also in attendance and made some brief comments. The councillor emphasized the enormous development pressures in our ward and commended local residents for our efforts to ensure that these developments build a healthy and inclusive community. She discussed the need for investments in city infrastructure, like the TTC, and the community’s needs for affordable housing and community services. Her remarks were met with applause.
Throughout the evening, members of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin spoke with community members and greeted people at a table in the foyer of the school. Almost all attendees stopped to talk and express their concerns about the scale of development at Bloor/Dufferin and the need for good planning. Many were dismayed to learn that the proposal for the site will include rental housing only in the absence of rent control. Our community needs more than luxury rentals and condos.
We also met a number of new neighbours last night who are keen to volunteer and get involved. We always welcome new members! Please do continue to get in touch with your thoughts, concerns, and offers to advocate for healthy development in our community. And thanks to everyone who braved the cold last night to do just that.
The Build a Better Bloor Dufferin Team