The already hot rental housing market in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is only expected to grow in the coming decades. The Ontario Ministry of Finance projects the GTA to be the fastest-growing region of the province over the next 28 years, its population increasing by 3.4 million, or 49.6%, to over 10.2 million people by 2046. Many of the purpose-built rental developments in the works across the city are targeting a luxury price point, while others aim to offset a crisis-level affordable housing shortage. With much of our population growth coming from immigration, there’s a need for modern rental housing that caters to the variety of renters that fall between these price points, especially in areas well-served by transit where car ownership is not a requirement.
Toronto’s many mid-century Tower-in-the-Park style apartment complexes offer prime opportunities for residential intensification. They were built according to planning principles that we no longer believe achieve desirable outcomes, producing slab-style towers surrounded by surface parking lots and marooned within expansive, underused green spaces. Many of these sites exist in proximity to higher-order transit lines, where quality rental housing is in especially short supply. One Tower-in-the-Park site at 90 Eastdale Avenue—in close proximity northeast of Main Street subway station—will soon get a major boost in density from DBS Developments, the development company affiliated with Preston Group and property manager Preston Living.
The family-run company originated in the construction business in the mid-20th century as Gonte Construction, before expanding into the development business and developing notable apartment communities in areas like the Eastdale site, as well as the Flemingdon Park community in North York. Now after five decades of building and managing apartments in Toronto, the company is looking towards the future of their transit-friendly Tower-in-the-Park communities with reinvigorating new residential infill. Bryan Levy, CFO of Preston Group, told us that “We have a long-term mission and important goal to give back to the city. We’ve been here for 50 years and we hope to be here for the next 50 years. Everybody in Toronto deserves a quality place to live at a reasonably affordable price.” Levy continued, elaborating on the company’s focus on creating “market-rent opportunities in transit-accessible areas that are much more attainable than what is available in the Downtown Core.”
Evolving from a proposal tabled with the City almost five years ago, the plan is now on its final path to approval, and set to bring IBI Group-designed 7 and 35-storey purpose-built rental apartment buildings to the Eastdale site. The new buildings will replace 21 townhomes along Secord Avenue and Eastdale Avenue and an outdoor pool which has been out of commission for over two decades. A ground floor unit in the existing 24-storey tower onsite will become a multi-purpose indoor amenity space.
The plan will bring 404 units in the taller building, with around 37% being family-oriented, two and three-bedroom layouts. The mix will include 187 one-bedroom, 66 one-bedroom+den, 65 two-bedroom, 7 two-bedroom+den, 69 three-bedroom, 6 three-bedroom+den, and 4 four-bedroom units. Another 80 suites will come in the mid-rise building, in a mix of 26 one-bedrooms, 5 two-bedrooms, 2 two-bedroom+den, 40 three-bedroom, and 7 four-bedroom units. The mid-rise building’s ground floor will contain a mix of 2-storey rental replacement units and secured rental units. While technically designated as condominiums, the remaining units will be secured as rental suites for a minimum of 20 years, giving the developer the flexibility to reassess tenure as market demands change over time. When combining the tower and mid-rise elements’ 484 units, the unit breakdown totals over 40% family-sized units.
Residents will have access to a selection of amenities typically reserved for luxury condominium developments, including a fully-equipped fitness centre, entertainment rooms, a games room, a theatre room, a flexible workplace lounge, an upscale pet spa, and a children’s playroom and outdoor play area for residents with families. A statement from interior designers II BY IV DESIGN describes the experience of residents and visitors upon entering the building’s double-height lobby, reading “the building’s interior emphasizes a monolithic stone reception, polished tile walls, and curved furniture forms.” The amenity spaces are also described, “a palette of cool greys, from grey with white veining wall tile, punctuated with stately copper and indigo accents.”
This boost in East York’s rental housing stock will be joined by an enhanced public realm plan by Strybos Barron King landscape architects that will see the existing Eastdale Parkette rebuilt and expanded to 2,100 m² in a new location at the northwest corner of Eastdale and Secord Avenues. In addition, a pair of POPS (Privately-Owned Publicly accessible Spaces) will add new outdoor spaces for residents of the complex and surrounding community, bringing the site’s total public space area up to 3,000 m².
90 Eastdale is now on the home stretch of its planning approvals process, with the developer and City working out Section 37 and Site Plan execution requirements. With final approval looming close, DBS is anticipating an early 2021 construction start.