This press release was issued on March 31, 2015 by Artscape.
Community Cultural Hub to be Built in Weston as a Result of Partnership between Artscape, the City of Toronto and The Rockport Group
TORONTO—Toronto City Council has approved the proposal of an innovative project to support the revitalization of the Weston community made possible by a public-private partnership between Artscape, the City of Toronto and private developer The Rockport Group, together with its development partner Woodbourne Capital Management. The project has been championed during the past six years by area City Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston).
The Artscape Weston Village community cultural hub, located at Weston Road and King Street, will include creative programming space, affordable artist live/work housing and an outdoor area for public gatherings that will be designed and programmed in consultation with the local community.
The development will involve the revitalization of a surplus parking lot at 22 John Street and under-utilized ground-floor space at an existing high-rise apartment building at 33 King Street that has sat incomplete and partially tenanted for 35 years, in a community that has not seen new private investment in nearly 40 years. The Artscape Weston Village community cultural hub will have three components:
- The 8,600 sq. ft. creative programming space on the ground floor of the existing high-rise building at 33 King Street will be designed and programmed in consultation with the local community and constructed by The Rockport Group
- 26 affordable live/work housing units for artists and their families located alongside the creative programming space at 33 King Street and constructed by The Rockport Group
- The 12,400 sq. ft. outdoor area adjacent to the creative programming space and artist live/work housing will serve as a community gathering place, hosting the popular and long-running Weston Farmers’ Market and other community uses
Artscape will be the leaseholder and operator of the community cultural hub under a 50-year lease agreement with the City. At nearby 22 John Street, The Rockport Group will be constructing a 300,000 sq. ft. new purpose-built market rental apartment building, stepping from 4 to 30 storeys, comprising approximately 350 rental units.
“I am thrilled with the development of the Artscape Weston Village Community Cultural Hub,” Mayor John Tory said. “I believe Community Cultural Hubs help connect people to jobs, opportunity and each other, so any investment the City can make to promote economic growth and healthier neighbourhoods is the right thing to do.”
“Residents of Weston have long awaited a catalyst for the revitalization of the community and I believe this is it,” said Councillor Nunziata. “With the strong support from the local community and a team of dedicated individuals in The Rockport Group, Artscape, and at the City, this project is the start of a new and exciting chapter for the Village of Weston.”
“The project is a first major step toward our goal of proliferating the development of cultural space outside Toronto’s core,” said Tim Jones, CEO of Artscape. “This has been an extraordinary effort to bring together the public and private purpose and capital to make it possible, and we believe Artscape Weston Village will have as much revitalizing impact as Artscape Wychwood Barns has had on its community.”
“This Council approval is a most welcome endorsement of the outstanding efforts of the Toronto Parking Authority, Artscape, the City staff and the Rockport team over the past two years creating the vision for Weston,” said Jack Winberg, President & CEO of The Rockport Group. “We are pleased to now move forward with our partners to bring the project to life.”
Support for the project has been expressed in the Weston community during public consultations held over the past six years by Artscape, the City of Toronto and The Rockport Group. A feasibility study prepared by Artscape for the City of Toronto in 2011, along with a community design charrette and report by the Urban Land Institute’s Technical Assistance Panel, further supported the strategy of leveraging the power of culture to assist in the revitalization of the area. As a result, the City developed its Weston 2021 Revitalization Strategy (2012), which outlined the benefits of a project involving creative programming space, along with live/work units for artists, studio space, community space and the farmers’ market.
The Weston community has been identified as one of the City’s 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, with unemployment at a higher rate than the city average, a lack of affordable housing and under-served status in terms of access to services and amenities. Artscape Weston Village will leverage the power of arts, culture and creativity to serve the interests of the Weston community. This year, Metrolinx’ UP Express, the new rail link to Pearson International Airport, will stop in Weston at a newly-constructed GO Transit station. These transit-based stimuli are being pursed with other community-level initiatives with a range of partners to re-energize the area and transform it into a vital, vibrant community.
The cost to build Artscape Weston Village is projected to be $10.05 million, with an additional operating fund of $3.25 million to ensure the viability and accessibility of the community cultural hub over the first 15 years of operation. There will be no direct impact on City of Toronto operating and capital budgets.
In 2015, Artscape will work to shape the vision for the community cultural hub through community engagement and consultation sessions, supported by a community steering committee. The project is anticipated to be complete by 2018.
Artscape is a not-for-profit urban development organization that makes space for creativity and transforms communities. Artscape’s work involves clustering creative people together in real estate projects that serve the needs of the arts and cultural community and advance multiple public policy objectives, private development interests, community and neighbourhood aspirations and philanthropic missions. Since its beginning in 1986, Artscape has become recognized as an international leader in creative placemaking, a practice that leverages the power of art, culture and creativity to catalyze change, growth and transformation in communities. The organization achieves its mission through developing and managing unique cultural facilities—including community cultural hubs, multi-purpose creative spaces and artist live/work projects—and delivering programs and services that promote creativity and cultural space development.
About the City of Toronto Affordable Housing Office
Creating and maintaining affordable housing is one of the City of Toronto’s key priorities. The Affordable Housing Office expedites affordable housing development, facilitates the development of new policy and works in partnership with the federal and provincial governments and the private and voluntary sectors on a range of initiatives.
About The Rockport Group
For almost 60 years, Rockport has developed and built innovative projects and has provided thousands of people in Toronto and the GTA wonderful places to live, work and play. Rockport was an early adopter of the idea of ‘intensification’ and making the most of its urban resources. Rockport is focused on the delivery of high quality mid and high-rise condominiums, outstanding retirement residences, leading edge purpose built rental apartments and unique retail/commercial environments. Rockport’s unsurpassed commitment to ‘thinking like a customer’ and attention to detail has earned them their reputation as one of Toronto’s leading providers of outstanding real estate service products.