60 Brant Street and 505 Richmond Street West
Type: Renovation and new construction
Size: 381,200 sf
Project Cost: $TBD
—City of Toronto
—Woodcliffe Landmark Properties
Status: In development, projected opening in 2020
Eva’s Phoenix / Waterworks is a diverse mixed-use project that involves the revitalization of a former public utilities building to include Eva’s Phoenix transitional shelter for youth, a 299-unit residential condominium development with 15 aﬀordable ownership homes for artists, a YMCA, a public food hall, and an improved St. Andrew’s playground.
Complexity / Collaboration
The surplus City of Toronto property includes a heritage component and was transferred to Build Toronto in 2011 for sale and redevelopment. The City, Build Toronto and Eva’s selected the parcel at 60 Brant Street for the relocation of Eva’s Phoenix, which opened in 2016. Build Toronto selected a partnership between MOD Developments and Woodcliﬀe Landmark Properties as purchaser/ developer for the remaining portion of the site. The property was sold contingent on the inclusion of an on-site YMCA. Guidelines called for a new public market to anchor the site. The City entered into an aﬀordable housing agreement with Artscape, Build Toronto and the developer whereby 15 homes will be sold at a below-market value.
User Interaction / Partnership Framework
Waterworks is expected to be ‘a neighbourhood within a building.’ Synergies are anticipated between residential tenants, the food hall and retail to create an active site. Residents will gain special access to the YMCA. The development benefitted from having a more holistic approach to development by gathering many partners at the table to collaborate. Although a private facility is generally not allowed to open onto a park, for example, rules were bent to have the food hall publicly ac- cessible. Eva’s Phoenix benefitted from a collaboration with the City Planning department to develop compliance alternatives to the building code for glazing requirements.
Funding / Costs
The project is funded by a variety of public and private sources. The City leased 60 Brant Street to Eva’s for $1 per year for twenty years with renewal options, and the estimated $12.5 million cost of renovation is funded by the Eva’s Phoenix Capital Campaign with a collective contribution of $5 million
from the City and a $1 million contribution from the Home Depot Canada Foundation. The estimated $34 million YMCA is funded through contributions from the City—including Section 37 and 45 funds—to a maximum of two-thirds of the construction cost, and a combination of funds from the YMCA and donations from the community (e.g. the McDonalds’ family contributed $3 million). Artscape Lofts is funded by a $2.4 million subsidy provided by all three levels of government
and Build Toronto. The price of condominium units varies from $400,000 to $2.5-million.
Risk to the project was minimized by having the size of the building decided up-front: the City set a property height limit, which avoided the need for rezoning and meant developers knew what they were paying for while neighbours knew what to expect. By including uses that fill gaps in the neighbourhood, the project aligns with a civic agenda and includes amenities that exceed what is typically available to condominium owners, likely making the project more attractive to prospective residents.
Build Toronto drove the process and leveraged city-owned land to create social infrastructure. The project benefited from the support of City councillors Adam Vaughan and Joe Cressy, who pushed for the project and inclusion of the YMCA. Other key players include Gary Switzer from MOD and Eve Lewis from Woodcliﬀe, cited as developers who aspire to making a diﬀerence.
The variety of diﬀerent uses makes Waterworks unique in Toronto, particularly in a for-profit development. The project involves community building and the adaptive redevelopment of a historical property which ‘seamlessly’ merges contemporary development with a heritage building. It is hailed by some critics as a solid example of how to build mixed-use downtown, one that redefines mixed use and is a model that should be repeated as often as possible.