Re-Imagining Regent Park: How the Famous Toronto Neighbourhood is Becoming the Gold Standard for Community Revitalization

By Amanda Desouza

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The Regent Park revitalization demonstrates how a developer successfully working alongside a community can create an energized, vibrant neighbourhood where residents can thrive. Discover how Evolv Rental Residence developed by The Daniels Corporation is reshaping rental living in this diverse community.

Reorganizing an existing city structure for social and economic reasons is a challenging endeavour. In Toronto, a public-private partnership created a strong foundation for the Regent Park revitalization project using strategic planning, development, and community engagement to create a vibrant and inclusive neighbourhood.

According to the World Bank, 55 percent of the world’s population live in cities and this trend is expected to persist. By 2050, the urban population will double with nearly 7 of 10 people in the world living in cities. This is reflected in the economy with more than 80 percent of global GDP  generated in urban areas.

Yet, as the speed and scale of urbanization ramps up, the urban poor may be neglected an equal stake in these sprawling cities. The result is accelerated demand for renewal projects and the need to expand economic development towards the creation of better jobs, affordable housing, and local services that improve the quality of life for all residents.

Public-private-community partnerships can ensure all stakeholders benefit from a proposed redevelopment project. A successful revitalization will avoid pushing out existing residents (often low-income and people of colour) and instead work alongside diverse populations to create an aligned vision of an inclusive city.

Regent Park Revitalization

The revitalization of the Regent Park neighbourhood has been decades in the making. Originally built in the 1940’s, this neighbourhood’s former reputation as a pocket of the city prevalent for crime and low-income demographics resulted in a highly stigmatized community.

The estimated $1 billion revitalization project, which began in 2005, sought to address this and many other issues including deteriorating buildings and escalating operation and maintenance costs associated with the over 2,000 units of social housing. The first three phases of the revitalization have been spearheaded by a public-private partnership between Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) and The Daniels Corporation. It involves transforming 53 of the 69 acres of Regent Park and is now considered the gold standard for re-imagining challenged urban neighbourhoods around the world.

Public-private-community partnerships can ensure all stakeholders benefit from a proposed redevelopment project.

Regent Park was previously an entire community of social housing. Yet, a key aspect of the revitalization is including both rent-geared-to-income and market units together in the same community. Over the next 10 to 15 years when this mixed-use, mixed-income community in Canada is completed, approximately 17,000 people will live in 7,500 units across 69 acres of Regent Park.

Revitalization plans seek to replace 2,083 of the existing social housing units in Regent Park with new, energy-efficient, modern units and the introduction of almost 400 affordable rental units within the TCHC portfolio and approximately 5,400 market units for sale and for rent.

The antiquated buildings in the first three phases were demolished in order to build TCHC rental buildings, market condominium buildings, townhomes, and commercial spaces such as RBC, FreshCo, Rogers, and a variety of retail, food service and office uses. There is also a strong focus on prioritizing community through the creation of neighbourhood amenities including a six-acre central park, an aquatic centre, new community centre, athletic grounds, and an arts and cultural centre.

Revitalization efforts have opened up Regent Park to transit and reconnected this once isolated neighbourhood to Toronto’s grid of streets and avenues.

Beyond the physical infrastructure, the revitalization is also a catalyst for social and economic change with hundreds of jobs already created for local residents. As it progresses, there will be growing economic development opportunities for existing and new residents.

Evolv: Built by The Daniels Corporation, Proudly Managed by Daniels Gateway Rental Communities™

The revitalization of Regent Park has become a prime collaborative project and case study on the cultivation of vibrant neighbourhoods. If we want cities to continue evolving, local residents must not only be heard but also given the opportunity to explore an array of housing options that take into account their needs and values. Purpose-driven rental buildings have an opportunity to create thriving communities when done properly. Case in point: Evolv.

Rendering of Evolv condominium
Evolv built by The Daniels Corporation (Photo: The Daniels Corporation)

Welcoming new residents to Regent Park is a development sitting on the Northwest corner of River and Shuter Streets. Evolv stands 29-storeys tall and is located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown east, just minutes away from the downtown core. Outdoor terraces allow residents to relax or entertain while overlooking the Regent Park Athletic Grounds along with stunning city views from every direction.

The building consists of over 340 purpose-built rental suites ranging from studios to family-friendly four-bedroom suite designs. Each and everyone with outstanding, high-quality finishes including stainless steel appliances, 9-foot ceilings, and vinyl plank flooring.

Evolv’s indoor and outdoor amenities can support a variety of activities for any age to enjoy and is particularly well-suited for families. This involves convenient access to an indoor fitness room right inside Evolv or ample outdoor space to get fresh air at the Regent Park Athletic Grounds where you can go for a run on the track, shoot a few hoops, or kick a soccer ball around. Only a block away, residents can enjoy Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre, which features three indoor swimming pools while in the wintertime, they can sharpen their skates for a trip to Regent Park South Ice Rink.

Evolv’s lobby (Photo: The Daniels Corporation)

Residents will also be steps away from Daniels Spectrum, a 60,000-square-foot arts and culture hub within Regent Park developed in partnership between The Daniels Corporation, Artscape, TCHC, and the Regent Park community. Showcasing everything from hallway art galleries to a local film festival, visitors can enjoy this community hub to explore their creativity through programs, classes, and events.

Six acres of green space provides residents with the perfect outlet to recharge after work. Pet-owners will enjoy a dog park featuring an off-leash area and upon their return can visit the pet wash inside Evolv. Meanwhile, families can run around all day at the park playground and make use of the splash pad to cool off.

South west view from Evolv’s 20th floor overlooking Toronto cityscape (Photo: The Daniels Corporation)

For professionals, the onsite co-working centre and bookable meeting rooms within Evolv will boost work-from-home comfort while the smart door lock featuring keyless entry gives residents quick access to their suite—a convenient feature if your hands are full with work materials upon your return. Nearby are all the conveniences a resident may desire, such as close proximity to national brand retailers, banks, grocery stores, cafés, and restaurants.

The Daniels Corporation is building Evolv to truly elevate the living experience in Regent Park for all residents. Construction is well underway and occupancies are expected in early 2021.

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