In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the George Street Revitalization (GSR) project will reinvent the northernmost block of George Street in the historic Garden District.
Part of this project is transforming the Seaton House men’s shelter into a world-class facility providing specialized care for vulnerable populations, including a long-term care home, a transitional living facility, an emergency shelter, affordable housing, and a community hub serving residents of both the site and the local neighbourhood.
“The George Street Revitalization project when complete will house important services supporting some of our city’s most at-risk communities with new shelter beds, long-term care facilities and community services in a world-class facility in the city’s downtown east. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition once the RFQ is issued and building commences,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.
It’s hoped that the GSR will be the catalyst for a more safe and vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District. GSR is linked to the Seniors Services and Long-Term Care Capital Plan. The Capital Renewal Plan is seen as an exciting opportunity to modernize and improve the design of homes while advancing the vision to be leaders in excellence and ground-breaking services for healthy aging.
The City Council unanimously approved George Street Revitalization in principle in summer 2013.
Now, on November 5, 2020, the City of Toronto and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the George Street Revitalization project, which will reinvent the northernmost block of George Street (between Dundas Street East and Gerrard Street East).
The Seaton House men’s shelter, located on George Street, and its adjacent properties will be transformed into a new shared facility, providing a dynamic range of housing, programs and services to meet the unique and complex needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as vulnerable and elderly individuals in the community. The project will result in a long-term care home, a transitional living facility, an emergency shelter, affordable housing, and a community hub serving residents of the site and the local neighbourhood.
George Street Revitalization, part of the City’s Downtown East Action Plan, will be the catalyst for a safer and more vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District.
The project will result in approximately 622,000 square feet of new construction and restored heritage buildings. Some proposed features of the redevelopment are:
- an emergency shelter program with 100 beds for men experiencing homelessness;
- an innovative 130-bed, all-gender transitional living program for people experiencing homelessness who require more intensive health care and substance abuse support;
- a long-term care home with 378 beds to better meet the needs of formerly homeless, vulnerable and elderly individuals;
- 21 units of affordable housing with supports, and
- a community service hub for program clients as well as members of the surrounding community.
The project also includes sidewalk and streetscape improvements (between Dundas Street East and Gerrard Street East), as part of a broader public realm plan for George Street. These improvements will link Moss Park to Allan Gardens and reinforce the identity of the Garden District where the revitalization site is located.
The City has contracted IO as the Commercial Procurement Lead and Project Oversight Partner and Advisor during construction.
“I am thrilled that the next phase of the George Street Revitalization project is launching. A key component of the Downtown East Action Plan, this project will be the catalyst for a more safe and vibrant community for all in the heart of the historic Garden District. I am pleased that services in the area, such as the Seaton House men’s shelter will be transformed into a shared living facility with specialized care, including public art and an inclusive community hub,” explained Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre).
The first step in the procurement process is to issue an RFQ to identify project teams that have the required design and construction capability and experience, and the financial capacity to undertake a project of this size and complexity.
IO and the City will establish the shortlist of project teams based on the submissions received. Shortlisted teams will then be invited to respond to a Request for Proposals, which is expected to be issued in spring 2021.
The project, led by the City, is being delivered through IO’s design, build and finance (DBF) Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, which transfers appropriate risks associated with design, construction and financing of the project to the private sector.
In preparation for the project, a Seaton House Transition Plan has been developed to co-ordinate the movement of people, programs and services currently located at 339 George St. to alternate locations while the redevelopment of the George Street site takes place.
The plan involves relocating current Seaton House clients to new program spaces, as well as housing with the assistance of Housing Allowances and Supportive Housing units with Habitat Services and other third-party service providers and agencies. Seaton House is expected to be fully decommissioned by July 2022.
Renderings are courtesy of the City of Toronto / Montgomery Sisam + Hilditch.