Toronto’s Alexandra Park Community Revitalization Wins ULI Global Awards for Excellence

Photo: Janet Rosenberg Studio

Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), Tridel and their Toronto community design team have been awarded an international award for development and urban design, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence, for the outstanding first phase revitalization of the Alexandra Park community.

Of the nine Global Awards for Excellence winners, Alexandra Park was the only Canadian community to earn this prestigious honour. TCHC and developer partner Tridel were recognized along with Toronto design firms Urban Strategies Inc.LGA Architectural PartnersTeeple Architects and Janet Rosenberg & Studio for their superior design and programming strategy and execution for this downtown development.  The Alexandra Park community also won one of the ULI Americas Awards for Excellence earlier this summer, before advancing to being one of 45 international submissions for the Global Awards.

This mid-rise condo was completed in 2019. Photo courtesy of Tridel

Toronto’s vibrant Alexandra Park community is located north of Queen St. West and west of Spadina Ave. According to TCHC, it selected developer partner Tridel along with an experienced project team to update aging buildings, reimagine community amenities to better serve tenants and improve tenants’ homes and lived experience.

TCHC reports that in revitalizing the 18-acre Alexandra Park community, TCHC, Tridel, design partners and community members focused on ‘Building a Great Neighbourhood’: a mixed-use masterplanned community with a variety of housing types and land uses, improved access to services, community economic development opportunities, quality urban design, social cohesion programming, enhanced community safety, and a greener, more sustainable community.

“As home builders it’s imperative that the communities we create integrate seamlessly, not only with the existing architectural fabric of the neighbourhood, but also with the people who live there. Alexandra Park is a perfect example of how strategic and collaborative community building can be applied to revitalize a previously under-utilized space intro a thriving neighbourhood with mixed-land uses and enhanced community characteristics. We’re proud of the international recognition this community has received for its design excellence, and the remarkable impact our strong partnership with TCHC and Alexandra Park residents has made, creating a long-lasting, sustainable community. We look forward to the continued growth and revitalization of the Alexandra Park neighbourhood”, said Jim Ritchie, Chief Operating Officer of the Tridel Group of Companies.

According to TCHC, the Alexandra Park revitalization was designed as a cohesive mixed-income community, where construction quality and design are indistinguishable between market and affordable housing, and where tenant input was sought and incorporated into all the features in the community, from the publicly owned child care space, to a resident operated community centre with a new community kitchen, to shared green spaces.

The Bowery Project is a non-profit organization that uses vacant lot for urban agricultural purposes. The Bowery Project is working with Toronto Community Housing and Tridel to build community gardens. These community gardens are being cared for by the Bowery Project in conjunction with local residents. Photo courtesy of The Bowery Project

In particular, The Alexandra Park Revitalization Working Group, a dedicated group of Alexandra Park and Atkinson Co-op residents, provided guidance and leadership from the start of the project and have been instrumental in the success of the revitalization.

“Alexandra Park demonstrates good urban design – beautiful streets and squares, exciting architecture that draws people in, with sustainability and inclusivity top of mind – these essential building blocks are not mutually exclusive. Together they bring a balance of coherent form and variety of expression to the creation of an engaging and diverse neighbourhood,” said Stephen Teeple, Founding Principal of Teeple Architects.

Completed in 2017, this award-winning mid-rise condominium building was the first completed development in Alexandra Park. The sale of these condos finances the revitalization of the affordable housing units. Photo courtesy of Teeple Architects.

Central to the revitalization were 10 guiding principles that were created by the residents and TCHC to direct development decisions, according to TCHC. The first and most important principle was zero displacement, which guaranteed each resident the right to remain in the community throughout the redevelopment. This planning approach was approved in 2011 by the City of Toronto with full endorsement from the community and local stakeholders.

“One of the transformative aspects of the new Alexandra Park neighbourhood is how the residential streets and houses now have legibility and clarity. It might sound simple, but previously the houses didn’t have distinguishable fronts and backs. Now doors, stoops and benches help to define the streetscape and to enhance a sense of community. The materials and colours offer simultaneous variety and visual connectivity. Inside, the units also have tremendous flexibility to house multi-generational families, and to fluidly embrace the shoulder seasons so that residents can maximize outdoor use. We’re proud of the collaboration and commitment invested to realize this revitalization,” said Dean Goodman, Partner and Co-Founder of LGA Architectural Partners.

The articulated balconies help create a sculptural like form. Photo courtesy of LGA Architectural Partners.

Following the success of phase one, TCHC and Tridel are currently working through the second phase of the 18-acre masterplanned redevelopment. Phase two will encompass 349 replacement social housing units, 257 refurbished rent-geared to-income units and more than 1,350 new market condominium suites, retail along Dundas Street reinforcing a connection to Kensington Market, as well as a new 1.53 acre community park and community centre.

“We are very proud of the creative and collaborative work by Toronto Community Housing, Tridel and the consultant team to realize flexible, sustainable, equitable and livable spaces for the Alexandra Park community. We hope that this important example of strategic partnerships helps to shift how we think about housing and place-making in our urban communities,” said Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg & Studio.

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