Community invited to have input for vacant lot at Sherbourne and Gerrard until development application approved
While the long-vacant lot at 307 Sherbourne St. is slated to eventually house a rental apartment building, developer Oben Flats is working to ensure the land is not wasted while they await approvals.
The development application calls for a 13-storey building to be built on the site, but Max Koerner of Oben Flats said it would be at least another year before construction would start. In the meantime, the developer is teaming up with local resident and urban planner Danny Brown and other local organizations to turn the derelict property into something the whole community can enjoy.
“We decided it would be a good idea to beautify the site, which has sat empty for over a decade now,” Koerner said.
Oben Flats contacted Brown after the latter staged a community activation and beautification project there earlier this year for the 100In1Day celebrations. They have reached out to the David Suzuki Foundation, Sustainable TO and the PATCH Project to devise ways to bring more community uses to the space.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, they gathered at the site to engage local residents in mural painting, while also gathering feedback on what those who live in the area would like to see on the site.
“We’re still brainstorming and collecting ideas,” Koerner said. “We’d like to see some community gardening or maybe a pollinator garden start up there next spring, and we could maybe have something going on there over the winter as well.”
He added many in the community backed the idea of a community garden and youth who dropped by offered their own ideas, some of which were not feasible.
Brown said the plan going forward is to continue engaging the David Suzuki Foundation, SustainableTO and the PATCH Project – the latter of which worked on Saturday’s mural unveiling – as well as local residents to help determine what would go in the space.
“Over the winter, we’ve talked about having a holiday market with pop-up vendors or maybe even a homemade skating rink if we can flood the space with water,” he said.
Brown added he hopes to get in touch with local schools and councillors as well, looking for their ideas and help not only while the beautification project is underway, but afterward as well.
“We’re hoping they can help us find a place for all the plantings when we have to move the plantings off-site (once construction on the apartment building begins,)” he said.
Koerner added if and when the development is built – Oben Flats is currently awaiting the issuing of permits for the work – some of the elements that will revitalize the vacant lot could be incorporated.
“We could be looking at taking something out of the urban gardening project and taking that to the finished building,” he said.