The East Scarborough Storefront, an information center rooted in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park (KGO) community, may soon be replaced by new housing.
The City of Toronto has proposed to Housing now site on property with the building at 4040 Lawrence Ave. E., a home for 35 partner organizations that help people find work and other essential support.
If the storefront moves – something not expected for two or three years – it is possible it will return to the property, says executive director Sahar Vermezyari.
Wherever it goes, Vermezyari is confident that KGO residents will be partners in designing homes on the property and a new Storefront.
“We don’t want to speak for them. We want them to sit down and speak for themselves,” she said.
Founded 20 years ago in the now-defunct Morningside Mall, The Storefront soon moved west to a former Toronto police station. Retention cells were removed as community members helped redesign the building.
The city still owns the 1.2 acres of land, including basketball courts and community gardens, and has announced it as a Phase 3 Housing Now site.
Vermezyari, who joined The Storefront in June, said the city has pledged to minimize disruption to services and programs, and community involvement in the process will begin with a community meeting in early 2022.
The Storefront grew into a community convener and connector, launching projects based on ideas that residents had.
The pandemic closed the building until July, but partner agencies continued to connect people to services virtually and by phone, Vermezyari said.
“The nature of everyone’s work, including our partners, has changed,” she added.
“We do a lot of food work now – cooking, delivering to people who need it.”
Housing Now developments promise a mix of apartments at market rent and others that are affordable to “essential” workers and target households earning between $21,000 and $68,000 a year.
In a blog post to supporters, The Storefront said it understood that “this news will stir a range of emotions in the community” for anyone who feels connected to the building.
“As an organisation, The Storefront supports the creation of more affordable housing in the neighbourhood; we also recognize that The Storefront is a critical community asset with an enduring role in the community,” the post read.
The city has proposed another Housing Now site at 40 Bushby Dr., a 1.7-acre site opposite McCowan Station on the Scarborough Rapid Transit line, which is expected to close in 2023.
A report to the Toronto City Council said the eastern portion of the site could become a public park.
On November 22, the council also approved developers for the Housing Now site adjacent to Victoria Park Station at 777 Victoria Park Ave., which is expected to begin construction in the summer of 2022.
At least 508 apartments, including 254 affordable ones, will be built on the two-acre site, as well as a new children’s center, retail and community space.
Developers have also been selected for a Housing Now project north of Warden Station at 705 Warden Ave., which will also expand Warden Hilltop Park, renaturalize the land adjacent to Taylor Massey Creek, create new public streets and add some retail space and a new child will include – care center. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2022.