The impending closure and relocation of Bombardier’s aircraft manufacturing and operations facility to Downsview Airport further opens up the former military base for another round of development.
Parcels of land previously sold to developers have led to some painfully bland communities at the southern end of Downsview Park, but something special is in the works for the 41.4 hectares (102 acres) of land between Park Commons and the Ancaster neighborhood.
With the final aircraft to use Downsview’s runway in 2023, manufacturer Northcrest has engaged the city, community, Indigenous rights holders and others since last year, working toward a massive mixed-use community that will include a mix of new spaces that support live, work and play.
It will be just one element in Northcrest’s redevelopment of the greater Downsview area of 370 acres, a long-term project that will transform the old air base over the next 30 years.
The original community known as Taxiway West, named for the taxiway connecting the existing hangars and runway, is projected to contain approximately 274,000 square meters, or 2.95 million square feet, of non-residential space that will support more than 7,500 direct seats work.
Among the major employment drivers for this community is the 93,000 square meter Future Film Studio Campus, which is expected to create more than 9,000 jobs.
Like most new developments proposed in Toronto, a driving force behind this plan is always lucrative residential real estate, with Taxiway West expected to contain 2,850 units supporting nearly 5,000 residents.
The condos will be just one part of the residential component, which is planned to contain a mix of townhouses and mid-rise buildings in rental (including affordable) and owner-occupied units.
The new buildings in the community will feature low-carbon designs that are expected to rank Taxiway West among the greenest and most environmentally friendly neighborhoods in the city.
This will be achieved using a range of techniques, including passive design and sustainable low-carbon energy sources, while the adaptive re-use of existing buildings on site for new community purposes would reduce demolition waste.
All of the new employment and residential uses will be supported by approximately 2.74 hectares (6.77 acres) of open space, the majority of which is proposed as public parkland.
And that alone plays into the newly built public space, as the community will be connected to the massive Downsview Park via a new footbridge and bike bridge over a GO rail corridor that will cross the Downsview grounds.
The community will be split into a pair of sub-areas, with the 18.9 hectare/46.7-acre northern sub-area comprising the cinema campus and the 22.4 hectare/55.3-acre southern sub-area housing a mix of uses including all proposed residential units.
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