The Pilot Project is intended to review appropriate City-owned sites in Beaches-East York (Ward 19) and work with the development industry and the community to build “missing middle” demonstration projects. The processes and approaches developed through this initiative will help inform approaches to missing middle projects on other sites, both publicly and privately owned, within the City.
As part of this work, staff are assessing the feasibility of building missing middle housing, ranging from duplexes to low-rise walk-up apartments, on selected City-owned sites that are designated Neighbourhoods in the City’s Official Plan. The project will employ the following principles:
Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods is primarily a market housing initiative. The primary focus of the EHON work is the expansion of market rental housing options, in a range of formats, within the City’s Neighbourhoods. While this work will not necessarily result in the creation of deeply affordable rental housing, it will result in increased permissions for housing forms that support residents with a much broader range of incomes and household compositions at various life stages than are currently permitted within many of the City’s Neighbourhoods.
EHON is one part of a broader housing strategy that includes initiatives such as Multi-Tenant Housing permissions, Inclusionary Zoning, the Short-Term Rental By-law, Housing Now and Rapid Housing, and includes intergovernmental investments in purpose-built affordable housing in a variety of forms across the City.
In 2021, an initial site was selected based on high-level due diligence. Staff began studying the feasibility of missing middle building types on this site; however, in 2022, additional information was obtained detailing underground constraints on the site, and it was determined that the full missing middle development potential of the site would be significantly limited. The findings from this corner-lot typology study played an important role in examining challenges and opportunities for building missing middle buildings on City-owned sites, and was valuable in informing further site selection, modelling and analysis. The findings from studying this former site are included in the Typology Study section below. The lessons learned from the study can help inform future development on similar sites within the city.
Following the study, City staff and CreateTO subsequently identified a different site, 72 Amroth Avenue, as the preferred property for further consideration as part of the Pilot Project. This selection was made based on the criteria noted below:
The existing context immediately surrounding 72 Amroth Avenue is defined by low-rise residential buildings to the east, south and west, and a number of one- to three-storey mixed-use (commercial-residential) buildings to the north, fronting Danforth Avenue. This site presents an opportunity to test new development permissions being considered by other City initiatives, including an opportunity to create a transition between the mid- to high-rise development expected on Danforth Avenue, and the low-rise built form to the south along Amroth Avenue, all the while enabling more housing.
On March 21, 2023, the Chief Planner and Executive Director of the City Planning Division and the Executive Director of the Housing Secretariat presented Item – 2023.EX3.1, the Housing Action Plan Priorities and Work Plan for the 2022-2026 term of Council. The Pilot Project and increasing density on the selected site at 72 Amroth Avenue will provide insights that may help advance the direction on the “Transition Zones” and “Increasing Permissions for Housing and Addressing Exclusionary Zoning” items in the Housing Action Plan.
As part of the next phase of the Pilot Project, energy modelling will be undertaken to demonstrate compliance with the TGS energy and emissions targets, and a whole building life cycle analysis will be conducted to quantify the embodied carbon footprint.
As part of the due diligence phase of the Pilot Project, City staff, CreateTO, and the consultant team, consisting of Dubbeldam Architecture + Design, RDH Building Science, and Altus Group, have been studying the property to understand how missing middle forms of development may be built on the site. This work involved creating a preliminary massing option to be studied by the team.
The preliminary massing option developed represented a solution to optimize the property for missing middle housing while considering the current regulatory requirements. The current regulatory framework limits residential development to four storeys; however, the Pilot Team is exploring how additional height and density (four to six storeys, or more) may be contemplated at a scale that is compatible with the existing and planned neighbourhood, while also creating an appropriate transition from planned intensification along Danforth Avenue and Woodbine Avenue.
Illustrations included in this section of the website show the planned future context along Danforth and Woodbine Avenues and an elevation of the preliminary massing created for 72 Amroth Avenue.
The property at 72 Amroth provides opportunities to demonstrate sustainability and resiliency in “missing middle” building practices. The design will be required to meet Tier 2 of the Toronto Green Standard Version 4 and will strive to achieve net zero emissions. To do this, the preliminary designs contemplate several key principles, such as limited use of concrete, passive heating and cooling systems, heat loss reduction strategies, rooftop space for solar panels and amenity/green space, green infrastructure, soft landscaping, among others.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, City Planning and Environment & Climate staff worked with CreateTO, the public agency that is responsible for managing the City of Toronto’s real estate portfolio, and a consultant team consisting of Dubbeldam Architecture + Design, RDH Building Science and Altus Group, to create and analyze preliminary architectural designs and project parameters, including energy modelling and construction costing, to help determine the financial feasibility of providing missing middle buildings on a City-owned site.
Additionally, a built form study was conducted to explore missing middle design options on a City-owned corner lot. The three options below illustrate different methods to increase density and explore issues faced when designing low-rise apartment buildings. While the Official Plan limits development within Neighbourhood designated sites to a maximum of four storeys, subject to conditions, a six-storey option was also explored in the context of a Major Street for the purposes of the built form study.
Missing middle design options:
Findings from this typology study (September 2022) were informed by reviewing test cases, conversations with private and non-profit housing providers, and work with an architect, energy and cost consultant team. The corner-lot typology study identified a number of challenges and opportunities for building missing middle buildings through an examination of existing policies, processes, building code, design, construction and sustainability considerations:
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