School of Cities releases plan to boost mixed-use development
The infrastructure institute is partnering with the city’s real estate agency on public property development projects, such as fire and paramedic stations with affordable housing built above them.
University of Toronto’s School of Cities recently rolled out a three-pronged, city-building plan emphasizing mixed-use development.
According to U of T News, family shelters below upscale condos, student housing above a rec centre and affordable housing built on top of community spaces are examples of mixed-use development that aren’t often found in Toronto.
“Amid pandemic-related economic pressures and skyrocketing real estate prices, there is an even greater need for such development,” says Matti Siemiatycki, director of the Infrastructure Institute in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities.
The infrastructure institute is partnering with the city’s real estate agency on public property development projects, such as fire and paramedic stations with affordable housing built above them. The plan includes a social purpose real estate accelerator to spur development that benefits the community.
“We want to morph this into the norm rather than the exception and bring partners together intentionally, to turn it into a model of creative mixed-uses designed for a social purpose, because that’s what enables growth to drive community benefit.”
The institute’s research shows this type of development is already happening, but largely as a last resort, says U of T News. Examples cited in the research include the co-location of schools, libraries, recreation centres and childcare into community hubs.
Siemiatycki hopes the social purpose mixed-use model might even form a significant part of the city’s HousingTO Action Plan to approve 40,000 new affordable rental homes by 2030.
U of T news further reports that the institute’s work on social purpose real estate is part of the School of Cities’ mission to be an incubator for innovative solutions that make cities more inclusive and prosperous, says Karen Chapple, the school’s director and a professor of geography and planning.
“As it leverages its real estate to serve broader social needs, Toronto is pioneering a powerful new model for infill development for other global cities to follow,” says Chapple.
The institute launched a series of free training models in March for anyone interested in learning about social purpose real estate. Later this spring, it will begin admitting organizations into an accelerator program that focuses on how to undertake a social purpose real estate project. The program, which formally launches in September, will help participants develop a final business plan that will attract private, philanthropic or government funding.
“Many nonprofits have legacy properties they’ve been running for decades,” Siemiatycki says. “In many cases, the mortgage is paid off but the property is deteriorating for lack of money.
The School of Cities was able to develop its ambitious city-building plan thanks to a $1.5 million gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
For more information, visit: https://www.utoronto.ca/news/school-cities-releases-plan-boost-mixed-use-development-toronto