Toronto’s Cherry beach is finally getting the community vibe it has long deserved.

On a 1,000 metre strip of waterway that connects the Don River to Inner Toronto Harbour sits the Keating Channel  sits the site of the new 3C Waterfront development. Positioned between Cherry Street and Lake Shore Blvd East (and just south of the Gardiner Expressway), the master-planned 13.5 acre site will host a cluster of condos, office, and retail opportunities.

One structure that promises to be a Toronto landmark is 3C’s 50,000 square foot arts complex featuring multimedia programming and three towers at 50 storeys each. A joint venture of Castlepoint Realty Partners, Continental Ventures Realty and Cityzen Development Group, the buildings will also feature precast, energy efficient materials in order to qualify for the LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

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And the good news is that while there are certainly more spacious and luxurious units, the class division accompanying some buildings (with the affordable units having a separate lobby than the luxury units)  isn’t present here.

“I don’t want to create exclusive neighbourhoods,” Alfredo Romano, president of Toronto-based Castlepoint Numa, told The Globe and Mail.

“It’s not what we’re about and it’s not what the city should be about. Toronto is so tightly woven that unless you integrate housing types across the city you end up creating ghettos," Romano told The Globe. "Urbanistically, it’s better to have mixed neighbourhoods.”

The project will offer 225 affordable units, approximately 10 per cent of the total number, for lower income families and professionals.

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“Trying to make affordability and creating a sense of community ought to be the top priority in any development,” says Mitch Kosny, a long-time professor and associate director of Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. “Having a sociodemographic mix is normal and appropriate. It’s the definition of a healthy community and it’s pretty much what most Canadians grew up with. Homogeneity is not what we should be building.”

Pedestrian zones are at the heart of 3C Waterfront and feature a Barcelona-style plaza, filled with boutiques, offices, and cafes with patios. A unique, red brick tunnel will connect 3C with the historic Distillery District to the immediate north, creating a walkway all the way to Lakeshore.

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“A huge amount of brainpower was sourced locally and internationally to realize 3C,” says Romano.  “It’s European in intent with high design values, which is why the first firm we hired for the master plan was Foster + Partners.”

The London-based company also designed the cubist-influenced Kuwait International Airport and The One building at Yonge and Bloor. However, 3C represents a grand scale of architectural collaboration – since six leading architectural firms collaborated on 3C, including Toronto’s KPMB Architects, Montreal’s Claude Cormier + Associates and New York’s SHoP Architects.

For Romano, the development is a true culmination of years of working towards building a large-scale waterfront community:  “When I first started building here 25 years ago there was almost nothing east of Yonge St. except derelict buildings. Seeing everything come together like this is enormously satisfying.”

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