New developments a plus for families

By Monika moravan

While Leslieville, Liberty Village and the Distillery District hogged the spotlight cast on Toronto neighbourhoods, the established community of Emery Village in the city’s northwest area grew quietly in the shade.

That climate has fostered the rise of what will eventually be six towers in Medallion Developments’ Casa community at the southeast corner of Finch Avenue West and Weston Road. “We’re excited to be a catalyst for positive change in the community,” said Howard Paskowitz, Senior Development Manager for Medallion Developments.

Currently in the initial phase of construction of what will be 1,400 residential units and 48,000 sq. ft. of prime retail space, Paskowitz is aiming toward the first 180-unit building to be completed by early 2015. “Right now we have a hole in the ground,” he said, of the large underground garage that will serve three towers. There will be a mix of one to three-bedroom units while Paskowitz expects seniors will be attracted to the smaller units.

Bounded by Steeles Avenue, Highway 400, Wilson Avenue, and extending west of Weston Road, Emery Village boasts a combination of factors to attract and keep residents, developers, and businesses within its borders. One of these is a cost sharing arrangement between the Business Improvement Area (BIA), developers, and the city for items such as streetscaping.

Commuters looking to minimize travel time are attracted by proximity to both public transit – including the future LRT - and highways 400, 401, and 407. Families are drawn by schools that are not overcrowded and easy access to both York University and Humber College. Seniors benefit from a variety of health care and community activities.

In addition to small and family-run businesses, large companies such as Home Depot, LG, Coca-Cola, and Purolator Courier are located in Emery Village, offering the opportunity to learn, earn, and play close to home.

Available and affordable land has brought in developers. “Infill developments are an effective use of land and financially viable due to lower costs,” said Joseph Alberga, Director of Sales and Marketing for HR-Developments.Their Westown project at Weston Road and Sheppard Avenue West is nearing completion.

“We recently released Lou Pomanti Street, the final one,” said Alberga. The mixed housing development includes detached, semis, towns, and condos. “The park is open, and we used the skating rink for the first time last winter,” he added.

Canada’s aging population, the movement towards healthier living, and reducing reliance on automobiles increases demands on developers to create walkable communities.

“We aimed for ‘a suburban urbanization’ where you can walk around like downtown but without the worries of traffic and parking,” said Paskowitz. “We wanted that old world piazza or town square feel in the city.”

Emery Village hadn’t seen significant investment in recent years but a strong partnership between the BIA, residents,developers and Toronto’s Economic Development has combined to retain long term locals and attract newcomers.

“I’ve noticed a number of buyers who lived in the area, who moved out and returned with their families,” noted Alberga.

The less time people are on the road, the more time they can spend enjoying their communities. With education,employment, recreation, health care and eventually the LRT, Emery Village is no longer flying under Toronto’s radar.

“It’s great to work together with the BIA and extended community on streetscape and maintenance,” said Paskowitz. “This isn’t a short term deal. We’re here for the long haul.”