Another Tower Renewal report is out, but will Ford embrace a Miller initiative?

Another Tower Renewal report is out, but will Ford embrace a Miller initiative?

Buildings at Kipling and Finch that are part of the pilot program (Image: Mayor's Tower Renewal) 

All over Toronto are towers built between the end of World War II and the 1980s—and far too many are eyesores. One of David Miller’s last big initiatives was an attempt to find ways to revitalize these buildings so they would be less of a blight on the urban landscape. In response, the government of Ontario commissioned a study on how to do just that. The answer turns out to involve money, and not a little. According to the report:

One of the major challenges is financing physical renewal. The cost of green refurbishment of Apartment Towers is in the range of $25,000–$45,000 per unit.  In Europe, governments have facilitated renewal through low interest loans, loan securities and gap financing. In addition, the development of surplus land has been used to create revenue streams for renewal. The financing of renewal projects in Ontario will require a variety of approaches that target a wide range of owner groups….

In July 2010, the City of Toronto Council endorsed the creation of a Tower Renewal Corporation with the mandate to assist owners in financing Tower Renewal projects. The details of the program are still under development.

Torontonians shouldn’t get their hopes up that Rob Ford will warm to this part of his predecessor’s legacy. Shortly after the election, Ford’s chief of staff Nick Kouvalis was dismissed tower renewal as gravy. That said, the mayor might warm to some ideas in the report—changing zoning laws so that tower owners can increase density, or maybe more ground level retail, might appeal to the mayor so long as it doesn’t cost taxpayers.

The new council doesn’t want to re-open the zoning bylaw they just passed in August, so changes like this may take some time. In any case, the mayor’s office needs to find some way to re-brand the initiative and make it their own. Just as Transit City became Transportation City, maybe Tower Renewal will become Tower Rejuvenation?

Over a million living in highrises have been largely ignored [Toronto Star]
Hume: Highrise apartments are towering issue in Greater Golden Horseshoe [Toronto Star]
Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in the Greater Golden Horseshow (PDF) [Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal]