Special to National Post
Lisa Van de Ven
Call it the first step in a whole new city vision.
With Southside Townhomes, i2 Developments is looking to introduce the homebuyers of Brampton to a new type of residential offering — all while transforming a vacant pocket at Steeles Avenue and Hurontario Street. For the City of Brampton itself, though, this is just the start.
“The City of Brampton would like to see more urbanization of that area — more density, brought up to the street frontage,” says Sam DeCaria, vice president of i2Developments. “What you would think of as a suburban location is en route to becoming urbanized.”
And with the first phase of 74 townhouses already under construction, the developer is working to make that dream a reality, with another 20 units now up for sale. Featuring three- and four-bedroom layouts, the back-to-back townhomes range from 1,645 to 1,840 square feet. Prices start at $679,900.
This isn’t the typical Brampton low-rise project, though. Instead of a front lawn, there are private rooftop terraces. And rather than a driveway, there’s parking underground, with direct access to each unit. “In some cases some of the buyers have opted to enclose their parking space so they have a private garage,” DeCaria says. “And then in a few cases we’ve even had some select buyers that have asked that we finish off that space for extended living.”
Those types of features, DeCaria adds, are designed to create a higher-density site that’s more walkable for residents, encouraging street-level engagement. And the developer plans to add to those goals in future phases of the project, with more townhouses planned for the spring and a 25-storey condo building in the horizon.
All of which is in keeping with the City of Brampton’s own ideas for new development within their borders. Their Vision 2040 long-term plan, drawn up with input from local residents, aims to create new neighbourhoods and build urban centres where people can both live and work. Other priorities include transit, sustainability, and greenspace.
“I think Brampton, and our city council, realized we were planning a little piecemeal and that wasn’t resulting in a city that was really claiming its space and its potential in the GTA, and wasn’t serving its residents as well as it could,” says Antonietta Minichillo, manager of community innovation and resilience for the City of Brampton’s Planning and Development Services department. “So we decided we needed to look at planning more holistically and really identify some opportunities for us.”
Hurontario and Steeles represented one such opportunity. It’s close to Highway 407, parks and the Shoppers World mall, which features stores like Winners, Canadian Tire and Bad Boy Superstore. Toronto Pearson International Airport is just a 15-minute drive away, while the proposed Hurontario LRT — slated for 2022 completion — is scheduled to end at the nearby Gateway Terminal bus station, making the community a prime location for future growth.
“This development is in one of our urban centres – the Uptown reimagined,” Minichillo says. “We’re completely changing what that site and the surrounding area could be, and given its proximity to the airport and all of the things going for it, it’s kind of surprising to think that it’s as under-developed as it is.”
The developer was also surprised by the amount of opportunity that still exists in the community. Their five-acre site, DeCaria says, represents just a fraction of the vacant land available in the local community. That gives the municipality — as well as developers like him — the opportunity to bring a new style of growth to the local streets, with higher-density offerings like Southside. “The city is trying to encourage more social interaction, more integrated communities — live/work type communities,” he says. “You can’t do that unless you have scale.”
Standout design is also a key element of the city’s plans — and was a priority for i2 as well. The homes at Southside feature a more modern aesthetic, with large windows, dark brick and wood-grain panels, as well as stone at the base for contrast.
“We tried to make them feel more individual,” says Mark Zwicker, the lead architect on the project. “There’s a lot of texture, a lot of different materials for each townhouse to make them look unique and interesting.”
Inside, the units will feature nine-foot ceilings on the main level, with upstairs laundry, broadloom carpeting, and ceramic tile flooring in the kitchens and bathrooms. They’ll incorporate open designs, with the large windows promising plenty of light. “We tried to make them feel as large as possible,” adds the principal with Architecture Unfolded.
The first phase of the townhouse site is slated for Summer 2019 occupancy, but with more plans in the works for future growth on the property, it’s only the start of i2 Developments’ plans. And so far, DeCaria adds, the response has been positive, with a cross-section of buyers coming to the project.
“The market likes it,” he says. “They’re looking for something fresh and new and unique.”
The sales office for Southside Townhomes is located at 209 Steeles Ave. W., Brampton and open weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. Call 905-230-3454 or visit southsidetowns.ca.