Today, Toronto City Council unanimously approved the next phase in ModernTO – the modernization plan to reduce the City’s office footprint from 55 to 15 locations and unlock eight City-owned properties to enable the delivery of affordable housing and other key City priorities.
Mayor Tory launched ModernTO in 2019 to make sure the City was using its office space as efficiently and effectively as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the City’s move to a hybrid office environment and helped prove this plan will save money and strategically make better use of City real estate assets.
The program will reduce the City’s office locations from 55 to 15 primarily by ending leases and creating office hubs within key civic buildings including City Hall, Metro Hall and the civic centres in Scarborough, North York, and Etobicoke.
This will also unlock eight City-owned properties with an estimated land value of $450 million for city-building purposes, including the delivery of affordable housing, City services and other priorities. These sites include:
It is anticipated that the majority of the value will be invested into city-building benefits with an emphasis on affordable housing, while a portion will be allocated to the Land Acquisition Reserve Fund (LARF) as per City Council direction. By repurposing these sites, the City is able to explore how it can make better use of public land and leverage the land value to build more vibrant and livable communities with greater investments in city-building priorities.
Across the portfolio, the plan proposes to deliver between 500 to 600 affordable rental and ownership homes in prime downtown and midtown locations, as well as infrastructure and service improvements and new institutional and civic spaces while contributing funds towards future strategic land acquisitions through the LARF.
The $450 million land value, estimated based on input from third party real estate appraisals and current market conditions, is a high-level estimate of the current market value of the eight properties, and is intended to provide guidance on the estimated land value available to be leveraged to deliver identified city-building priorities across the ModernTO sites.
While redevelopment opportunities for each site are not yet fully determined, CreateTO, the City’s Corporate Real Estate Management division, City Planning and other City agencies have undertaken a preliminary due diligence and site visioning process which has informed the overall portfolio objectives and proposed outcomes.
Based on the estimated timeline to unlock these properties, the eight properties have been divided into two key groups, with five sites, including 610 Bay Street, 277 Victoria Street, 931 Yonge Street, 95 The Esplanade and 18 Dyas Road to be repurposed in the short term. Significant infrastructure projects are being undertaken on or adjacent to the remaining three properties, which will be unlocked in the longer term. Redevelopment opportunities will be determined with input from local councillors, impacted communities, current occupants, City divisions, as well as external partners.
Public services currently being delivered on these sites, including The Works at 277 Victoria Street, will remain available to the community, and robust communications will take place well before any City services are relocated.
“ModernTO saves millions of taxpayers’ dollars on an ongoing basis, it opens up some properties for different uses including affordable housing, and the modernized spaces will allow for more jobs to be located in city-owned buildings as opposed to expensive leased space. This is exactly what people expect us to do here at City Hall – find sensible ways to do things in the most efficient way possible, reducing costs so as to keep our city operations affordable, and creating more opportunities for top priorities like affordable housing.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Across the portfolio, it is anticipated these City-owned sites will produce between 500 and 600 new affordable rental and ownership homes in prime downtown and midtown locations, which is good news for the residents of our city as we continue working towards our commitment to build more vibrant and livable communities.”
– Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Davenport)
“Repurposing the sites at 610 Bay Street and 931 Yonge Street present an exciting opportunity for the City to transform two underused City assets to increase access to affordable housing and to deliver other City priorities. In addition to prioritizing housing, CreateTO will be seeking innovative proposals to reimagine the Toronto Coach Terminal, which will also accommodate a Toronto Paramedic Services Hub, new retail and commercial space, while incorporating and preserving the existing heritage structure and providing public realm and streetscape improvements.”
– Councillor Mike Layton (University-Rosedale)
“Expediting the sale of the City-owned property at 277 Victoria Street and accelerating the relocation of the existing occupants in the earliest possible time frame, while ensuring minimal disruption to Toronto Public Health service delivery, will serve as a catalyst to revitalize the area surrounding Yonge-Dundas Square, including improvements to the public realm, traffic flow, and pedestrian and cycling mobility in line with the yongeTOmorrow plan.”
– Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre)
“Working with our partners in the City’s Corporate Real Estate Management division, City Planning and other City agencies, CreateTO has undertaken a preliminary due diligence and site visioning process, resulting in a recommended portfolio strategy that optimizes the city-building opportunities across the eight City-owned properties targeted to be unlocked through the ModernTO program.”
– Vic Gupta, CEO of CreateTO
CreateTO was formed in 2018 as the City of Toronto’s new real estate agency. The organization brings together stakeholders, partners and community members to ensure the best use of the City’s real estate assets for today and tomorrow. CreateTO manages the City’s $27 billion real estate portfolio, develops City buildings and lands for municipal purposes and delivers client focused real estate solutions – ensuring a balance of both community and economic benefits. For more information, visit the CreateTO’s webpage.
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