International ULI redevelopment competition selects Old Weston Village for revitalization grant

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Toronto District Council, in partnership with Metrolinx and the City of Toronto, have announced that their joint submission titled John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan was selected as part of an international competition for ULI’s Urban Innovation Fund. The grant of $23,750, when matched by partner organizations, will inject between $75,000 and $85,000 to kick-start urban development and renewal of Old Weston Village, an area in need of revitalization.

Old Weston Village is a neighbourhood by Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue in the city’s west end. As the area has been experiencing new immigrant growth, it has been challenged with a lack of private-sector development and revitalization that has benefited other Toronto neighbourhoods.

Selected for its early success and the high quality of proposed projects, the John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan calls for the transformation of John Street from a secondary commercial street into a vibrant avenue. Specifically, it provides for a venue for Weston’s popular farmers’ market; an improved environment for existing and future retail, restaurant and café opportunities; and a streetscape link between the commercial core and the heritage neighbourhood of Old Weston Village.

“This is a positive step toward seeing the community’s vision for a revitalized Weston Village become reality,” said Councillor Frances Nunziata, City of Toronto Ward 11 York South – Weston. “Thank you to ULI Toronto for their hard work on the design initiative, and for their continued interest and assistance in seeing the ideas that came out of the design initiative come to fruition.” As a result of the grant, the required budget to commence the regeneration plan has been met. Metrolinx, Weston Road Business Improvement Area and a number of City of Toronto Divisions including: Planning; Transportation Services/Public Realm; and Economic Development & Culture have committed to either match the grant financially or provide in-kind contributions.

“The total funds generated as a result of this award give us the opportunity to move this initiative from plan to action,” said Mark Noskiewicz, ULI District Council Chairman. “It will allow us to push this revitalization forward and provide the necessary ground work needed to allow Weston Village to thrive once again.”

To kick off the John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan, plans are underway in consultation with the local community and in the fall of 2012, a final plan will be put into production.

The John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan is one of the ‘quick-start’ initiatives identified during the Weston 2021 Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) conducted by ULI Toronto’s District Council, together with its two public-sector partners – the City of Toronto and Metrolinx. As part of a greater City of Toronto Weston 2021, the ULI TAP program was developed to bring together the finest industry expertise to determine how to best leverage the upcoming Metrolinx transportation hub and start the revitalization of a neighbourhood in need.

Planned to begin operation in 2015, the Metrolinx Air Rail Link train service is designed to pass through the Weston Road area on route between downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport.

“This grant is validation of Metrolinx’s commitment to improve regional transportation and make a positive impact on the communities that we work in and serve,” said Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO, Metrolinx.

The ULI TAP Program is a high profile industry program that brings industry leaders together to collaborate on complex land use and redevelopment projects and allows members of ULI Toronto to be in at the ground floor of the revitalization of their City and provide meaningful contribution.

As part of ULI’s 75th Anniversary Urban Innovation Fund program, 30 grants totalling $500,000 have been awarded to Urban Land Institute district and national councils. ULI contributed funds as grants to local ULI projects that recognize or launch innovative public-private partnerships that will advance the responsible use of land in building healthy, thriving communities worldwide over the next 75 years. The $500,000 provided by the ULI Foundation is the largest amount ever contributed by the Foundation to support a single funding round. This special one-year program takes the place of ULI’s Community Action Grant program, which will resume in 2013.

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