Danforth church affordable housing

An 8-storey wooden building with affordable housing proposed for site of century-old church

WoodGreen Community Services is proposing to build an eight-storey mass timber building on Danforth Avenue east of Broadview that will include much-needed affordable and rental housing.

According to a letter included in the development application for 285-297 Danforth Ave. to the city of Toronto, the community services agency is “proposing a mix of dwelling units including 32 dwelling units and 18 dwelling rooms, all which will be operated by WoodGreen as affordable, supportive, rental housing. The development will focus on housing vulnerable populations, specifically senior tenants and will provide on-site tenant supports.”

The church building dates back to 1911, when the Danforth Church congregation first occupied the site, according to a heritage impact statement included in the application. The development is a joint project between the church and WoodGreen and is proposing a hybrid space in order to preserve as much of the historic church as possible.

“We are excited to not only maintain but increase community benefit at this location with state-of-the-art facilities to support our aging population,” said Mwarigha, vice0president of housing and community services at Woodgreen.

The ground floor where it fronts onto Danforth Avenue will be home to office space of counselling services to support tenants, as well as shared amenity space for tenants and the perish of the existing church. The main entrance and front lobby of the building will be on Bowden Street.

affordable housing
Architectural plans for development at 285-297 Danforth Ave. (City of Toronto application)

According to the application there will be eight residential units on the ground floor with bachelor and one-bedrooms, on the upper floors there will be 18 dwelling rooms with shared kitchen, laundry etc. on floors four and five and a mix of one bedroom and bachelor units on the sixth to eight floors.

The development is taking advantage of the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative through which WoodGreen received an exemption from a number of associated fees.

“As one of the largest non-municipal affordable housing providers in Toronto, WoodGreen Community Housing is proud to partner with the Rapid Housing Initiative for these two projects, which will provide seniors with critically needed affordable housing and access to the wide range of support services that we offer,” said Anne Babcock, President & CEO of WoodGreen Community Services.

The question of why there isn’t more densification along Danforth Avenue has long confused and confounded urbanists around the city. It’s along a subway line, it’s got green space, schools, everything a condo community might require. With the acknowledgement and focus on the housing crisis, it is even more shocking driving east across the DVP and seeing so little intensification.

Finally, the Danforth is finally in play with this and many other projects on the way, and Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher supports the WoodGreen project.

“At 60 Bowden, the Danforth Baptist Church will be transformed into 50 new affordable and much-needed homes for seniors. It is the first major development on Danforth after the adoption of the Danforth Planning and Heritage Study,” said Fletcher. “There will also be a community benefits agreement for the construction of this project which will provide jobs to local youth. I’m proud to support this initiative and I’d like to thank everyone involved.”

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