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Making room for MILA

Dec 20, 2021

Originally Published By: Toronto Sun

Located near Midland Ave and Lawrence Ave. – thus the name MILA – the project  involves a mix of townhomes, semi-detached and single detached with pricing ranging from $1.1 million to $1.989 million.
Located near Midland Ave and Lawrence Ave. – thus the name MILA – the project involves a mix of townhomes, semi-detached and single detached with pricing ranging from $1.1 million to $1.989 million.

The Madison Group project will probably be one of the last master-planned, low-rise communities to be built in the GTA, says its developer

Toronto Ward 21 Councillor Michael Thompson can only hope that massive residential development plans for the Golden Mile Plaza in Scarborough go as smoothly as a low-rise housing initiative situated five kilometres or so to the northeast.

That project is called MILA and will be sitting on land where the Bendel Business and Technical Institute and David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute were once located, it came into being after the Madison Group bought the 17-acre site through a public bid process involving the Toronto District School Board.

The project consists of two locations: Phase 1 – Midland Avenue and Norbury Crescent, launched fall 2021. This includes 95 townhomes, eight semi-detached and seven single detached homes. And Phase 2 – Lawrence Avenue East, west of Rushley Drive, launching 2022. This includes 65 townhomes and 35 single detached homes. Prices in phase 1 will range from $1.1 million to $1.989 million.

According to Thompson, the situation that unfolded ended up being a “fundamental shift in how development seems to occur during this day and age.

“Normally, a developer comes in with a mindset that they’re going to maximize, and they’re going high rise, they’re going to build and they’re going to fight to put what they believe will be in their best interests.

“And largely, they negate to consult in a real constructive way with the community. There’s a tendency for them to say they’re consulting, but they’re not really listening.”

What ended up being approved on the former school property was a 210-unit project that David Singer, Madison’s vice president of low-rise communities, describes as “probably one of the last major master planned communities within the 416-area code.”

With the bulk of the units in Phase 1 already sold, Thompson says much of the credit has to do with the fact it came together after and not before the Madison development team met with both him and members of the Midland Park Community Association.

“We were able to walk them through the development and the design and the counsellor was at these meetings as well,” Singer says. “We worked together through the development process, and we were able to create this community we call MILA today.”

As for Thompson, he indicated early in the discussion stage that neither a high-rise nor mid-rise initiative would be an option.

Madison, he says, wanted to hear from the community what would be suitable for the site: “They didn’t come with a pre canned or pre-packaged proposal to present to the community they actually came with pencil and paper and were willing to listen. That was refreshing because we do have strong community associations in the area.”

Thompson adds that the same approach of working with the community needs to take place at Golden Mile Plaza, but at a much greater scale.

The development area will be adjacent to the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line and bordered from the west and east by Victoria Park Ave. on one side and Birchmount Rd. on the other.

At last count, there were upwards of 53 developers who had either submitted plans with the city or intend to. These include Choice Properties REIT, SmartCentres, RioCan and, Madison, which owns 20 acres.

The Golden Mile initiative which once complete, will be just shy of 280 acres, is going to change the entire neighbourhood, says Thompson.

“This is a massive, massive development opportunity along the strip between Victoria Park and Birchmount. If you think about it, over the next 20 years, there’s going to be 53,000 people living in that area, where now, no one resides because there are no residential properties in the designated area.”

In addition, “some 24,000 jobs are going to be there, you’re going to have schools, parks, and all the different amenities that you need in a community. And so, listening is extremely important as is working collaboratively with landowners and developers in order to ensure we have the right development that is supported by the community.”

Many builders, he said, want to maximize and go as high as possible, but “we have guidelines in place, and we are sticking to them.

“We also want to ensure that the development is structured in a way where we have the appropriate road alignments in place that connects the new Golden Mile roadway that will be there, all the parks that we need to put in place, the easements that have got to be in place.

“And I will say that, through the discussions that we’ve been having with landowners, there have been little bumps in the road, but for the most part, I think that there’s a collective interest in terms of ensuring that we get it right in terms of the interests of the landowners, the interests of that of the city, and the interests of the community as a whole.”

In terms of the latter, he says prior to Madison acquiring the site, there were other developers who expressed an interest and since all of them wanted to build high-rise structures, not one application made it through the review process.

As for Golden Mile, Thompson says that it has to be “developed property and not in a piecemeal way. Our city planning staff are acutely aware of this and are working with landowners to ensure that we get the best outcome for everyone.”

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By The Numbers:

Total acreage of MILA: 17 acres

Square footage of units: 1,781 to 3,353

Total number of residential units: 210

Total acreage of Golden Mile project: 279.23

Total number of jobs to be created: 24,000

Number of people who will live in the area: 53,000