Redevelopment of the Wilson West Lot
Answers to your frequently asked questions
Why is this parcel of land being redeveloped?
Around 2008, the City of Toronto began to examine new strategies for maximizing its real estate holdings and enhancing the City’s economic competitiveness. With this goal of unlocking the value in its underutilized real estate, the City continues to evaluate its inventory of properties to determine which parcels are surplus to their business operations. The parcel around Wilson Subway Station – 75 Billy Bishop Way (used as Wilson West Lot) – is one of the lots identified by the City as surplus. Redevelopment at this site offers an important opportunity to align with policy objectives of the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto. Both the Provincial Growth Plan and the City’s Official Plan call for intensification and density around major transit nodes.
What is Build Toronto’s role?
In 2010, Build Toronto was established by the City of Toronto to create greater value for the assets the City determined surplus to their operational needs. Our focus is on supporting the City in developing its surplus and underused City land to attract commercial development, create desirable jobs and improve the livability of the City. Before a site is declared surplus, it goes through a process managed by the City where all City divisions and City Council approve the surplus decision before it is finalized. The site at 75 Billy Bishop Way underwent this process and was declared surplus in 2009, and subsequently transferred to Build Toronto.
What is the redevelopment opportunity here?
Part of good planning principles both from the Provincial Growth Plan and the City’s Official Plan is concentrating more people, services and jobs to transit. We considered these principles as well as the goal of developing complete communities, while also factoring in the height restrictions imposed by the adjacent Downsview airport. With these considerations in mind, we developed a retail concept that focused on new landscaped and pedestrian-friendly urban format retail shops that will complement the growing residential neighbourhood in this area.
Will there be parking on the site?
There will be limited customer parking on the site, but it will not be available for commuter parking. From our studies, we know that approximately 70% of the users of the Wilson West Lot were coming from outside of the City of Toronto, with most coming from the Woodbridge and Kleinburg area. The 2,800 parking spaces the City and the TTC are building north of Downsview as part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension in late 2017 will accommodate a large group of the people that parked here.
Why was the lot closed ahead of the reopening of the TTC commuter lots at Yorkdale?
Given the guidance we received from the TTC during the planning stages of development, we were targeting a lot closure during October 2015. This is when the TTC Yorkdale Lot was expected to open. Over the last year and a half, the TTC Yorkdale target open date changed a number of times and we made concessions in our business plan along the way. However, given that part of our mandate is to return dividends back to the City, we could not delay any further and had to move forward on the business commitments and contractual agreements we had in place. Over the last year and a half, we worked collaboratively with the TTC to ensure the smoothest transition possible.
What is the value of redeveloping these lands?
This project will allow us to deliver important City-Building benefits for the City of Toronto such as the accommodation of 130 employees, new public space, creation of new commercial space and intensification around a transit station. In addition to helping provide an annual dividend to the City, of which we have generated $70 million to date, getting our shovels in the ground in early December will allow us to deliver further financial benefits to the City of Toronto. This project will generate $1.1M in development charges and fees to the City and approximately $500,000 in annual property taxes upon completion.
Given the objective of intensification in this area – why develop a single-storey building?
On this parcel, there are height restrictions imposed by the adjacent Downsview airport. The planned retail concept will service the residential growth coming to this neighbourhood and support the goal of building and fostering complete communities.
Are there other City lots being redeveloped in this area?
In this area, other lots declared surplus by the City for redevelopment include: 50 Wilson Heights Boulevard (used as Wilson Main Lot), 30 Tippett Road (Wilson South Lot) and 1035 Sheppard Ave. W. (a parcel of property west of Allen Road by Downsview Subway station). On an ongoing basis, we can expect the City to continue to review its real estate assets and operational needs, and as a steward of public assets, we are here to play a part in helping the City function, grow and evolve.