Toronto: Federal government announces $200 million for affordable rentals at former Honest Ed’s site

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By Nicole Thompson
Saturday January 18, 2020 The federal government is committing $200 million for affordable rental units at the Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street site where iconic department store Honest Ed’s once stood, with Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen saying the money will ensure the project stays true to its roots.

The discount store Honest Ed’s was sold in 2013 and closed its doors for good just over three years later, with developer Westbank Corp. demolishing the building and saying it would turn the city block it sat on into a multi-use community space.

There was talk at the time of some of the rental units being designated affordable, but officials said Thursday’s announcement cemented that goal.

“As a new refugee to Canada in 1993, in my first week I went into Honest Ed’s and bought some clothing, because that’s all I could afford,” Hussen said. “Now it is being transformed into a really amazing project that will provide more affordable housing for people that are living and working in the downtown core.”

He made the announcement at the construction site — at this point still a hole in the ground, not yet built up — where the six new buildings are to stand.

They will include 916 rental units — 366 of which will be designated affordable, costing no more than one-third of the median income in Toronto. Of those, 100 will be secured at 80 per cent of the average market rate in Toronto — far less than the going price in the centrally located, transit-accessible downtown neighbourhood.

The affordable units will be scattered throughout the development so they have the same quality and design as their market-rate counterparts, Hussen said.

Hussen, who is also responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said the funding comes from a rental construction financing initiative.