tdsb lands school

Photo: Ryan M./Flickr

The long list of surplus properties owned by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) have included sprawling Scarborough sites being developed into major townhouse communities and North York parcels that will soon be home to million-dollar houses.

This week in the series, we’re looking into lands in the western part of the city. Many of the properties have long histories and we’ve even managed to dig up some of the original listings (and asking prices) for the parcels.

How does it all work? Back in 2007, the Toronto Lands Corporation was created as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the TDSB 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. But 47 per cent of the surplus properties sold to private owners, many of which were real estate 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.

Here’s a look at 5 former schools:

Silverthorn Junior Public School
Address: 55 Ypres Road
Site size: 2.7 acres
Date sold: August 2012

Built in 1916, the school building was originally three-storeys tall but after a major fire in the 1950s, it was re-opened as a two-storey facility. The school was shuttered in 2011 and amalgamated with Kane Middle School on the next street. It was demolished in 2013 to make way for Silverthorn Heights, an Icon Homes project made up of 43 semi and detached houses.

Briar Hill Junior Public School
Address: 1100 Briar Hill Avenue
Site size: 1.98 acres
Date sold: August 2013

Built in 1927, the school suffered low enrolment numbers in recent years and closed following the 2011/2012 school year (projected enrolment for the 2012/2013 school year was expect to be as low as 85 students). A corner of the site, home to a playground and mature trees and measuring 0.37 acres, was acquired by the City of Toronto for $1,162,060, with funding provided from the Parkland Acquisition – North District Local Parkland Reserve Fund. Madison Homes picked up the remaining 1.98 acres for a yet-to-be named development made up of 124 townhouse units. Interestingly, in April 2014, a consultant archaeologist for the developer applicant and an independent archaeological consultant acting for the City of Toronto conducted an additional of the former school site, which locals believed to have historic value. The additional excavation found the intact remains of the original 1863 schoolhouse and 1908 addition that stood on site.

The councillor for the neighbourhood, Josh Colle, recently made a request from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for a more rigorous archaeological review of the site, which has connections to early York pioneers. A write-up on the findings of the site, as well a report from City Planning on the townhouse development proposal from the developer, who is appealing the process to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), will head to hearing at the OMB on November 25, 2014.

Alderwood Collegiate Institute
Address: 300 Valermo Drive
Site size: 8.5 acres
Date sold: August 2012

The school closed down in 1983 and was later picked up by the Toronto Catholic District School Board for Father John Redmond High School. The school stayed on site until 2006 before moving to a new location at 28 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive. According to news reports, the community wanted the site to remain a school. However, the only public entity to bid for the site was Toronto’s French Catholic school board, though they backed off due to the $7 million needed to bring the rundown building up to code. Urbancorp picked up the property for Val Homes. The development is made up of 92 freehold townhouse units, which start from $779,900.

Hardington site
Address: 1780 Lawrence Avenue West
Site size: 7.45 acres
Date sold: August 2013

After the Hardinton Learning Centre, a building that dates back to built in 1931, closed its doors in June 2012, the property was put up for sale by the Toronto Lands Corporation. One listing pointed to an asking price of $11,500,000. Urbancorp picked up the site for Ravines On Lawrence, a collection of 185 semi-detached houses, starting from $599,990.

Hughes Public School
177 Caledonia Road/19 Innes
Site size: 2.05 acres
Date sold: August 2013

Originally built in 1912, the surplus property had been the location of Beatrice House, a transitional shelter for women-led families in 2001 and leased to the YWCA and a Day Care Centre. According to a listing for the property dating back to February 2013, the asking price for the parcel was $8,900,000. Urbancorp, which picked up two other former school sites, eventually bought this site as well for The Homes of St. Clair West. The project consists of 41 semi-detached houses with prices starting from $699,990.

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