Toronto parking lot might become affordable housing but not everyone loves the plan
A parking lot in Kensington Market might soon become the site of a new affordable housing development.
Councillor Mike Layton will introduce a motion next week that, if approved by City Council sometime, could see the Green P (Location #071) at 25 Bellevue Avenue become around 30 affordable housing units.
The parking lot at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue and Nassau Street sits off the main drag of Kensington Market.
It's long been looked at by the Toronto and East York Community Council and the Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT) for alternate uses.
"We're really excited to finally see it happen," said Dominique Russell, chair of KMCLT and community group Friends of Kensington Market.
"The community has been thinking of the parking lot as housing for a very long time."
But getting rid of the parking lot completely, and what that means for residents, remains "a contentious issue," she says.
"We need to make sure people who come into the market don't park in spots for residents, so it's a balancing act... There's more than one parking lot in Kensington."
Additional areas for car parking include the multi-level Green P on St. Andrew, near Moonbean Cafe. Layton's motion also suggests that the City will be working with the Toronto Parking Authority to find proper parking replacements nearby.
If declared surplus land by the City next week, the Green P property would open up to bids from potential not-for-profit development partners and possibly lease the land out long-term by the end of the year.
"The need to protect and build affordable housing has been a pressing issue for many years and has been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic," said Councillor Layton.
According to a July report from the City's real estate agency, CreateTO, this most recent proposal for 25 Bellevue comes as part of a land deal between the City and developer DevGreat Inc.
In exchange for allowing DevGreat Inc. to purchase parts of two Toronto-owned parking lots at Spadina and Adelaide (they have plans to turn it into a high-rise) the city has made demands from the company, including alotting the remaining project funds towards affordable housing — in this case, at 25 Bellevue.
The City has stated it's also looking at 15 Denison Avenue as an additional site for new housing as part of the deal.
News of Layton's proposal comes just a few days after construction was completed on a three-storey building on Leonard Street, which added 22 new affordable housing units to the Market.
"It's exciting because it's been framed as perpetual affordability," says Russell. "Especially with COVID, anything around housing security is all the more urgent."
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