Several weeks ago in Toronto, real estate development company Landmark Building Group announced a new design for the Westside Lofts. You may already be thinking, “Not another mid-rise, mid-town loft development” – but this project has us intrigued for social as well as environmental reasons. Active 18, an impressively responsive and realistic community association, has taken an interactive roll in this project’s design (during the second go-around, anyway) and that of other developments nearby. Because of this community response, the developers have committed to making the project a more pedestrian friendly, economically varied, and environmentally sustainable place. Or so the story goes.
Early in 2005, Landmark approached the city for permission to build a typical high-rise residential tower on a piece of property that had provided a rich live/work environment for many years. By no means is this a unique story; an industrial or warehouse district becomes rundown, artists and “creative types” move in, the area becomes hip, developers see huge financial potential, the cool kids are kicked out, the neighborhood looses soul, and gains lots of BMWs. Timeless, right? Luckily, this neighborhood fought back, and appears to have won a small victory. The resultant buildings are lower in scale, have green courtyards, roof terraces, and will provide more than thirty live/work units on the ground floor. Although the project is registered with the Canadian Green Building Council, we’re a bit wary that this project may be “green washed”, as there is no mention of what sustainable measures and materials will be used, nor is there a description of the certification level being sought.
There’s no way you can please everyone in a situation like this, but we are encouraged by both the efforts of the neighborhood, and what appears to be the final product. Anybody from Toronto care to enlighten us?