A rail corridor in downtown Toronto could see some much-needed life with the development of a proposed 16-acre master-planned community that would be home to 3,500 residential units and an elevated railway park.

This week, CRAFT Development Group, Kingsmen Group Inc., and Fengate Asset Management announced their development partnership for the sprawling community, named the ORCA Project.

If the project gets the green light, it would develop a mixed-use community consisting of high-rise residential, affordable housing, open green space, retail, and entertainment venues above 16-acres of rail corridor lands in downtown Toronto, south of Front Street and between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way.

CRAFT acquired the air rights for the site in 2013 from the Canadian National Railway and this development would be precedent setting in Canada, in terms of the size of the community efficiently created in previously unused space above rail corridor lands.

News 20210405 orca ren 2The ORCA Project rendering April 2021 (CNW Group/Fengate Asset Management)

“The ORCA Project is focused on addressing ever-increasing housing demands in Toronto, providing new transit-oriented and family-friendly options in the heart of the city, and reclaiming a significant amount of urban space utilized by the rail corridor,” reads a press release about the project.

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The master-planned community pays close attention to urban resident needs for convenience with transit, retail access, and dynamic public spaces including ample green space. With a focus on sustainability, the ORCA Project would also incorporate state-of-the-art technology in support of energy efficiency and a healthy environment throughout the complex.

master-planned community

“We are extremely proud of this union between Craft/Kingsmen and Fengate,” said Carmine Nigro, President of CRAFT Development Corp.

“With LiUNA guidance, this historic opportunity for the revitalization of a former rail corridor will create thousands of job opportunities as well as homes for a new generation of homeowners,” added Nigro.

master-planned community

The proposal was initially submitted to City planners in 2017, though the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) application was denied in January 2018, according to City documents.

However, the OPA was taken to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) for appeal, which had scheduled hearings in November 2020 and in January 2021, with updated plans submitted to the City in June 2020.

master-planned community

According to the latest cover letter submitted to the City, Safdie Architects and PWP Landscape Architecture firms have been retained by the applicants to prepare the revised and updated concept plan.

According to documents submitted to the City, the ORCA development would include six residential towers with 3,500 units, ranging from studios to 3+ bedroom units. A 36-storey office building and approximately 522,049-sq.ft of retail space have also been proposed for the site.

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