One of my recent book purchases was Stroll by Shawn Micallef, from 2010, which offers many walks across the city. Following the walks in the book isn’t only a great opportunity to get to know Toronto on foot, but it’s also an opportunity to revisit the city a decade later and realize how much some areas have been developed and changed.
So today we took our first walking tour, on Dupont Street.
What makes Dupont such fascinating, hot, trendy area?
- Shawn mentions that while we praise organizations such as CSI and MaRS, it is actually places like Dupont Street that provide space for start-ups and small businesses by offering (formerly) cheap office space close to the city centre in the old industrial building.
- The stretch of Dupont where the lots south of the CPR are deep and where all the major mid-rise development can take place is relatively short – just 1.6 km between the jog west of the subway station and Ossington Avenue.
- Unlike the walks on north-south streets, the character of Dupont is relatively defined, consistent, and easy to digest, and this helps to create a story and market the area to investors.
- In certain areas clear rules (height, setbacks) were set for development.
- The change in Dupont is happening right now, in front of us – unlike in many other places in the city where the big wave of change is already over.
- The low-key commercial and industrial area north of the CPR along Geary Avenue has recently seen new trendy businesses, and the area has the potential to become a chic area similar to the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.
From a development point of view there are a view interesting points that affect this stretch:
- From a land use perspective, this little stretch has many interesting uses: Neighbourhood, Mixed-Use, Employment.
- The CPR boundary to the north and requires new development to provide a 20 m setback.
- Dupont Street is not designated as an Avenue, but the City adopted a study for the Employment Areas north of Dupont that permits 9-storey buildings. There are currently four mid-rise buildings in different stages of development along Dupont Street between Spadina Road and Ossington Avenue, all at 9-storeys:
- The largest project in the area is the outdated Galleria Mall which is being redeveloped with a tower-and-podium scheme with 8 towers up to 35-storeys (down from 11 towers up to 42-storeys in the original scheme), and podium ranging between 7 and 9-storeys.
- Large sites with large parking lots are ideal for redevelopment, and it is only a matter of time until those left along Dupont such as The Beer Store, Loblaws and LCBO will be redeveloped.
A related bit:
North of the CPR, a hydro corridor that runs diagonally and then adjacent to the rail line has been developed into a series of parks. The parks that are parallel to the rail line are a nice addition, but are unfortunately disconnected. This condition is what inspired our proposal to use redundant space within railway corridors (including the CP rail corridor) in Toronto to create a network of grade-separated bike trails traversing the city – turning the railway corridors from boundaries that divide the city to elements that connect it.
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