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Toronto’s Regent Park then and now

Regent Park. At one time the thought of this Toronto neighbourhood brought on feelings of anxiety and dread. Not anymore thanks to a collaborative effort between Toronto Community Housing and property developer Daniels Corporation that is turning this 69 acre neighbourhood into a thriving community. In order to understand this tremendous accomplishment a brief history must be given to understand how truly remarkable the transformation has been.

In the early 1900’s what is now known as Regent Park was the centre of the Cabbagetown neighbourhood and home to Toronto’s slum district. Plagued by crime, poor housing conditions, and significant social economic problems the neighbourhood was in desperate need of redevelopment. During the second world war, plans emerged to bulldoze the neighbourhood and redevelop the site as a transitional community with affordable housing. Between 1947 – 1960 new buildings were erected and families moved in. Unfortunately by the mid to late 60’s the previous issues of crime, poor housing conditions, and social problems began to re-emerge.

Part of the flaw with the mid 20th century urban planning was the neighbourhood was cut off from the rest of the city. Streets were dead ended and replaced with walkways. No commercial zoning or recreational facilities were designated for residents. This effectively isolated Regent Park from the rest of the city since those who didn’t reside there had no reason to go. There was also no mixed housing meaning all the residential units in the neighbourhood were social assisted and/or rent geared to income. By the 90’s, buildings had fallen into disrepair once again and crime had significantly increased.  By the mid 00’s, it was time to go back to the drawing board and get it right this time.

Fast forward to the present. The $1 billion redevelopment of Regent park is coming to the end of the 15-20 year project. Streets have been reconnected to the rest of the city. An arts and cultural centre, aquatic centre, a new community centre, a 6 acre community park, and retail such as grocery, restaurants, banking, and pharmacy are now present. Up to 900 local jobs are expected to be created by the end of the project. The 2083 social housing units have been replaced along with the introduction of approximagely 3000 residential condominium units.

My take on Regent Park from a real estate perspective is that it’s now a world class neighbourhood in an urban setting. Stigma about the neighbourhood is still present but it’s slowly being shorn away although it will be a little harder for Regent Park to shed the stigma compared to other gentrifying neighbourhoods such as Leslieville, Riverside, The Entertainment District, Upper Beach, & The Junction. This Stigma is having a marginal impact on real estate values. In Regent Park 35 one bedroom units sold between January 1, 2015 and October 27, 2015 for an average price of $317,000**.  In an adjacent neighbourhood (Church Wellesley Village), during the same period, 65 one bedroom units sold for an average price of $334,000**.  An approximate average price discrepancy of 5 %.

BuzzBuzzHome is a great go to source for real estate projects and news currently underway in Toronto. They also posted a then and now photo tour of Regent Park in October of 2015. For the pictorial click here. 

 

** Toronto Real Estate Board