Housing crisis

Toronto developer plans to tackle housing crisis by building 4 towers of mostly affordable units

A Toronto housing development company says it is trying to help solve the housing crisis by proposing to build four mostly affordable housing towers in the city’s northwest.

Spotlight Development Inc. wants the towers, which range in height from 15 to 35 stories, to be a mix of condominiums and rental units, with 70% of the units being affordable.

The mixed-use development is planned at 1635 Lawrence Ave. W. near Black Creek Drive. Currently the site is a 3.5 acre strip mall plaza. When complete, the towers will number over 1,400 units and the project will cover nearly one million square feet.

For Sherry Larjani, president of Spotlight Development, the project is about giving back. The company goes above and beyond what is required, she said.

“We were not mandated to make an affordable housing component to this project. Instead, we decided that we were going to dedicate this entire project to the idea of ​​affordable housing and creating much needed affordable housing in the city of Toronto,” she says.

Spotlight Development plans to build four primarily affordable housing towers at the corner of Black Creek Drive and Lawrence Avenue West. The towers will be a mix of condominiums and rental units, with 70% of the units to be affordable. (Submitted by Spotlight Development)

Larjani said all three levels of government must tackle the problem.

“It’s a very broad conversation,” she said.

“The housing crisis is due to the lack of supply, and while we can help developers by facilitating in many ways the possibility of creating more housing, we are in one way or another approaching the concept of affordable housing. “

Larjani said Spotlight has partnered with four nonprofits, Habitat for Humanity, WoodGreen Community Services, BlackNorth Initiative and Trillium Housing to help the company develop affordable homeownership models. Inclusiveness is part of the project and the developer will use funds from the sale of market units to serve the “deepest levels of affordability”, she said.

Larjani was one of four panel speakers on housing affordability at a downtown Toronto conference, Land and Development 2022, on Tuesday. The conference was organized by Informa Connect, the producers of real estate forums, with the help of a steering committee that included developers, landlords, lenders and brokers.

Affordable housing incentives needed, developer says

She said all three levels of government must provide incentives for developers to create more affordable housing.

“Getting developers to provide more housing at lower rates is the way to go,” she said.

“The way to do it is to go after the different levels of government, basically dipping into their buckets of money that they’ve allocated to housing, affordable housing at different levels, municipal, provincial and federal. I think all they have to do is get together and I think they have to make it a bipartisan conversation.”

Larjani said governments need to work together to give incentives to developers who come up with projects that give back to the community.

“I say incentivize me in areas where I don’t have to provide affordable housing. Help me out there and let me bring a product to market that’s inferior to what’s already out there and help this guy of projects.”

As for the newly re-elected Doug Ford government, she said the province should use the report of the Task Force on Housing Affordability in Ontario as a guide for making legislative changes.

Shortening the approval process, says lawyer

Leor Margulies, co-head of the real estate group at Robins Appleby, a mid-sized law firm in Toronto, said the time it takes to get projects approved needs to be shortened. The longer the approval time, the higher the costs of transporting the property, he said.

“If you can reduce the approval process from five years to two years, that’s a huge savings,” he said.

Margulies said there is huge NIMBYism in Toronto, where 75% of the city is low rise. The neighborhood system is a huge impediment to development, he said.

“You can’t get it through the ward councilor, you don’t get it approved. Even if planning likes it, even if Mayor Tory likes it, it’s not going to happen,” he said. declared.

“It’s a huge problem that developers face every day.”