In the News
Downsview Airport Redevelopment Resubmission Focuses on Affordable Housing, Sustainability
Published July 31, 2023
Read the original Urban Toronto article here.
The id8 Downsview Framework Plan, a joint venture by developer Northcrest Developments and land owner the Canada Lands Company, aims to transform the Downsview Park Airfield into a mixed-use community. Now, Northcrest Developments has resubmitted Zoning By-law Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision applications for the Hangar District, the first phase of this city-building project.
A site plan of the revised development proposal, image from submission to City of Toronto
The developer, with a design by Perkins Eastman, intends to transform the 55.5 acre site into an employment-oriented, mixed-use district featuring a range of employment, residential, retail, and community uses. UrbanToronto last looked at the redevelopment in March for the site in the southwestern part of the larger 102-acre Downsview Airfield lands, located at 123 Garratt Boulevard, southeast of Downsview Park.
An axonometric view looking north of the massing and uses, designed by Perkins Eastman for Northcrest Developments and the Canada Lands Company
Since then, the proposal has undergone revisions based on feedback from the community and the City. These changes include the realignment of Powell Road for a more direct connection through the Subject Area, the conversion of certain private laneways into public streets, and the realignment of streets west of the hangars to better support loading functions for future employment uses.
The redesign also incorporates a 20m reserve block to accommodate a potential future extension of Murray Road. Furthermore, the developer has responded to City Staff feedback with a larger park space in the centre of the site that is four times the previous size at 11,923m².
A side-by-side comparison of the 2022 and 2023 submissions, image from submission to City of Toronto
In a recent interview with UrbanToronto, Derek Goring, CEO of Northcrest Developments, stated that the company is committed to providing affordable housing for a period of 99 years. This significantly exceeds the City’s minimum requirement of 20 years.
The Hangar District is planned to consist of 26 buildings, with heights ranging from 12.3m to 49m and 3 to 14 storeys. The development would house a total of 2,850 units. The developer intends to continue to achieve at least 40% of residential units as 2-bedrooms or larger, with the goal of appealing to families.
Concept design for The Hangar District streetscape, designed by Perkins Eastman for Northcrest Developments and the Canada Lands Company
The developer is seeking a forward-thinking approach to energy use. Goring explained that Northcrest Developments is "proposing to use geothermal heat as the primary source for heating and cooling, all driven by electricity." This approach is a significant step towards achieving net-zero operating carbon. The company is also exploring district energy as a complement to the geothermal system.
In addition to energy considerations, Northcrest is also prioritizing effective stormwater management. The area has a history of flooding due to its extensive hardscape, and the company is taking a proactive approach to mitigate this issue. As Goring notes, this strategy involves planning for future conditions with respect to the frequency and intensity of rain events. The strategy involves using natural systems as much as possible to manage stormwater, allowing nature to absorb as much rainwater as possible.
Schematic of the wastewater management treatment approach, image from submission to City of Toronto
The design of the Hangar District also responds to the surrounding community context, with taller buildings strategically placed to ensure a blend with the existing neighbourhood. In addition to affordable housing and sustainable features, the plans include a film studio campus at the north end of the site with over 113,000m² in gross floor area (GFA), and over 160,000m² of employment, retail, and community uses.
Concept design for the streetscape and road network, designed by Perkins Eastman for Northcrest Developments and the Canada Lands Company
Goring concluded that the developer is "taking a phasing approach" in order "to build a critical mass from day one." The large first phase is intended to ensure that "by the time the first residents move in, they have amenities, infrastructure and services."
The project's planned phases, image from submission to City of Toronto