Regeneration Dilemmas

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  • Topic: Industry, Mixed-use development, Spadina Avenue
  • Pages : 7 (1912 words )
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  • Published : April 6, 2013
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Regeneration Dilemmas

The King-Spadina area is located at King Street West and Spadina Avenue, to the west of Toronto’s downtown core. This area is roughly bounded by Bathurst on the west and Simcoe to the east, and runs south of Queen Street West to Front Street (Figure 1). Historically, the King-Spadina area was known as an industrial manufacturing district. During the 19th century, this area served a manufacturing role for heavy industry in Toronto, however, manufacturing activities declined, and the land developed from a single-use industrial district to a mixed-use commercial area later on. By the early 1990s, it was readily apparent that the area could not compete as a viable location for manufacturing, particularly with the liberalizing forces of free trade and globalization (Recursion, 2011). Nowadays, this area sees a mix of land uses other than industrial. It provides citizens with convenient transit, commercial buildings, restaurants, night clubs, and residential condominiums. For example, The Morgan, a 16-story condominium at Richmond and Spadina with 217 residential units, replaced a one-story industrial building that housed four small retail operations (The “King Regeneration” Initiative, 1996).

In early 1996, the former Toronto Council approved new Part II Official Plans and Zoning Bylaw amendments to encourage reinvestment and regeneration in King-Spadina (Dill&Bedford, 2002). Mayor Barbara Hall initiated a consultation process that resulted in the elimination of traditional use restrictions and redesignation in this district. There were some outside supporters, including Jane Jacobs, and other famous architects and planners. The King-Spadina area was established as the “Reinvestment Area,” and developers immediately began to take advantage of the innovative planning framework and its novel zoning flexibility (Recursion, 2011). The purpose of the plan was to deregulate the land use, abandon out-of-fashion industrial policy strategies, and open up this area to attract more investments and business. The regeneration of the King-Spadina area created jobs opportunities, offered spaces for new businesses, and stimulated economic development. As a result, employment activity in the regeneration area has increased by 18 per cent since 1996, outpacing the city-wide growth rate of 11 per cent (The “King Regeneration” Initiative, 1996). Also, this project added 7,040 housing units once construction was completed. By following the regeneration plan, the King-Spadina area became a district with a wide variety of land uses, including light industrial, commercial, entertainment, and retail, residential and work.

The change of an area has positive and negative effects on different individuals. The planning policies developed for King-Spadina in 1996 simulated reinvestment and helped to transform and revitalize the area. But challenges were caused by the regeneration plan. Some individuals argue for more open space and less night clubs, while others request more units for business. The majority of the buildings are of the mixed residential type which occupies 41% of the total area, whereas commercial/industrial buildings occupy 28.3 % (Figure 2). This results in an issue of socialization, wherein people have different expectations for changes in the living environment. Businesses desire more land for extending business, leading to heavy traffic and security problems. On the other hand, residents desire more spaces for parks and facilities. Improvements to the parks and open spaces throughout “the Kings” are needed, and community service needs require further assessment along with a framework for implementation (City of Toronto, 1998). Moreover, staff costs for the regeneration project are difficult to estimate because of the large geographical area. The cost of redeveloping the King-Spadina district is over budget. Reuse of existing buildings and new development increased total taxable assessment...
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