Photo: Max Klingensmith/Flickr
When a school closes, it touches a nerve in the community. Selling the property can be fairly contentious too, as locals grapple with the loss of green space. In land-hungry Toronto, there have been a number of high-profile sales of these parcels belonging to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
Though the TDSB ultimately backed away from a proposal to sell off excess lands or unused pieces of green space to deal with the billion dollar repair backlog, the board holds a number of surplus properties that have gone on the market for millions of dollars.
Back in 2007, the Toronto Lands Corporation was created as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Toronto District School Board in order to manage the board’s real estate revenues. Between September 2008 and August 2013, 67 sites were declared surplus and put up for sale. During that period, 57 sites were sold, generating $312 million worth of gross revenue for the school board, according to the Toronto Lands Corporation’s 2013-2014 report. Most of these properties were shuttered schools though some were vacant land or administrative and maintenance sites.
Of the sold properties, 30 were picked up by other school boards and public agencies such as the City of Toronto. Some of these sites were revamped into high-profile new structures, such as the former Shaw Street Public School, which sold to Artscape for $1.5 million. Toronto Police Services picked up the shuttered Carleton Village Public School on 2054 Davenport Rd. and turned the space into the new 11 Division headquarters. Originally built in 1914, the historic building was converted into a 62,000-square foot facility that even won an award from the Ontario Architects Association.
But 47 per cent of the surplus properties sold to private owners, many of which are developers. We’re taking a closer look at which sites are being redeveloped into infill projects and subdivisions, as these acreages are among the last large pieces of property still available in the quickly growing city.
The first in a weekly series running this September, here are six former Scarborough school sites that were sold to developers between 2008 and 2013 and their conversion plans:
Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute
Address: 1251 Bridletowne Circle
Site size: 7 acres
Date sold: July 2012
The original site was split, with 5.2 acres sold to the City of Toronto and the 7-acre portion sold to Genesis Homes. The new development, Eaton on the Park Townhomes, will be home to 282 units. It’s currently in the preconstruction phase.
Vacant land owned by the TDSB
Address: Alton Towers at Goldhawk Trail
Site size: 10 acres
Date sold: August 2011
Split into two pieces of land, the north end was sold to Conseil Scolaire Viamonde for a French immersion school, while the remaining 10 acres went to Treasure Hill Homes for a new community, Goldhawk Gardens. The subdivision is made up of 75 single-family homes and several new streets were introduced to the area, including Alvin Curling Crescent, the site of a home that sold below the asking price earlier this year.
Heron Park Junior Public School
Address: 280 Manse Road
Site size: 5 acres
Date Sold: July 2013
A listing dating back to January 2013 put forward the asking price of $10,700,000. Earlier this year, the City of Toronto released a preliminary report on a zoning amendment for the site after it was purchased. Tim Warner Manse Developments Inc. is listed as the owner of the site, which strongly suggests Mattamy Homes, where Warner is Vice President, will be developing the site. The proposal would see 138 townhouses, 58 of which would be street townhouses and 80 back-to back units, built on the site.
William G. Miller Junior Public School (vacant land portion)
Address: 60 Bennett Road
Site size: 2.4 acres
Date sold: June 2012
Monarch bought the parcel of land for Bennett, a collection of 19 single detached homes. The company hasn’t shied away from the land’s history with early campaigns touting the development’s “old school elegance.” Prices for the new homes start in the $800,000s.
Brooks Road Public School
Address: 85 Keeler Boulevard
Site size: 5.89 acres
Date sold: August 2012
Laurier Homes is listed as the owner of the site in a City of Toronto document proposing the construction of a 51-unit housing development. Keeler Park would be made up of 25 detached homes and 26 semis.
Pringdale Gardens Junior Public School
Address: 1325 Danforth Road
Site size: 6.3 acres
Date sold: August 2013
Monarch also purchased this former school, which is now home to Parkwood Townhomes, a collection of 86 units. The homes are currently in preconstruction, but they’ve hit the market with prices starting from $514,990.