As realtor Alexander Croney pedaled his bike along Dupont Street to the Davenport Road office he worked out of from 2012 until 2014, he kept having the same thought.
“I was always going back and forth saying, ‘Man, I wish I had some money right now,” he recalls.
With more money, he could purchase property along the west end Toronto street, which he thought was fertile ground for investment then. It’s something he still advises buyers do today — and he’s far from the only one with eyes for Dupont.
In August, condo developers Freed Developments and Elad Canada swooped in on the 12-acre Galleria Mall site at Dufferin and Dupont that had attracted hundreds of possible buyers. And already, Neudorfer Corporation, another builder, has completed a number of projects in the area, with construction on Fuse Condos — a 20-plus-storey two-tower development at Dupont and Lansdowne Avenue — underway, too.
For the Galleria site, the community consultation process is ongoing, with a second public meeting scheduled for April. Rarely do properties its size come on the market, particularly ones so close to the downtown core, and the attention the deal has received since closing is considerable. In fact, Croney says the Freed and ELAD project will garner further interest in properties along the Dupont strip.
“It’s like turning on a huge magnet in a junkyard, things will just fly in,” he says.
While no vision for the site has been revealed, the previous owners successfully applied in 2004 to have the site rezoned to allow for 1,600 residential units, though ELAD confirmed it won’t move forward with that plan. Less clear is the fate of a sought after strip of Dupont to the east.
Much of the street remains zoned as employment lands, which are areas designated “for clusters of businesses and economic activities including, but not limited to, manufacturing, warehousing, offices and associated retail and ancillary facilities,” according a City staff report.
However, in December 2013, the City decided to launch a Dupont Street Regeneration Study to see if a strip of Dupont employment lands presented any chances for other kinds of development.
Following the study’s completion, Toronto council adopted recommendations in August 2014 from the study, as well as Official Plan Amendment 271 and Zoning By-law Amendment No. 1011-2014.
One of the outcomes was the opening up of some land bordering the north side of Dupont Street between Kendall Avenue and Ossington Avenue for mixed-use development, including residential.
At either end of this strip, Dupont veers to the south, creating more of a buffer between the road and the train tracks that run parallel to Dupont to the north, allowing for more room for development as the City requires a 30-metre setback from the Canadian Pacific Railway for safety.
Along other parts of Dupont, the train tracks run closer to the street, which limits development possibilities, according to the City. “It’s a major factor, yes, because of… the risk it poses to developments,” says Jamie McEwan, the City’s manager of community planning for the midtown Toronto and East York District.
Trains travelling along these tracks carry “hazardous and dangerous goods through” the city, he adds.
Although the City is allowing residential development on the former employment lands, building height has been limited to eight storeys, and McEwan says the area-specific official plan amendment has been the subject of nine Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeals since it came into effect.
A three-week hearing is scheduled for May involving nine appellants, says McEwan. Rezoning applications have been filed for 275 Albany Avenue and 420 Dupont Street, 840 and 860 Dupont Street, 500 Dupont Street, 328-358 Dupont Street, according to a City staff report dated March 1.
Brian Brown is vice president at Lifetime Developments, which is seeking approval on a boutique mid-rise project at 500 Dupont alongside Rosewater Capital Group. He declined to comment on any specifics while Lifetime seeks approval for its plans but says the organization feels “that this neighbourhood is strongly poised for change.”
“This stretch of Dupont is prime for a significant transformation over the coming years and some developments have already been a party to this change and a catalyst for renewed interest and energy in this neighbourhood,” he adds.
Photo: Michelle Tribe/Flickr
Rather than go through an OMB hearing, McEwan says the City is working towards a settlement with the owners of 420 Dupont and 275 Albany Avenue, the site of two former Mono Lino Typesetting warehouses. “It’s really a negotiated outcome,” he says of the process. “That can lead to certain concessions.”
An application for a 12-storey mixed-use development containing 296 condo units and 2,301 square metres of retail was submitted on November 25th.
Meanwhile, the rezoning application for 840-860 was put forward by Sobeys Inc. for a 393-unit mixed-use development encompassing a two storey podium and two 13-storey towers. The grocery chain did not comment on the development at time of publication.
Freed Developments is hoping to bring 560 new residential units to 328-358 Dupont spread across two towers, one 29 storeys tall, the other 15.
Some of the nine appellants have yet to file applications, says McEwan. “They’re trying to secure permission to have a designation to allow them to have residential,” he explains.
Dupont’s proximity to a number of desirable neighbourhoods is generating interest in different communities off it as buyers are priced out of other areas, says realtor Jennifer Greenberg. “It’s pushing that St. Clair boundary, it’s pushing the Annex boundary, pushing Seaton Village,” the local Harvey Kalles agent says.
“People didn’t used to like to live by Christie Pits, but you couldn’t afford to live in Seaton Village, so you crossed Christie, and then that becomes more popular, and you make another cross,” she says. “You just keep crossing boundaries into affordable areas.”