George Street reinvention to be led by shelter rebuilding

The seedy, partly derelict stretch of George Street south of Allan Gardens is to be transformed into a vital part of the community, starting with the reimagining of Seaton House men’s shelter and neighbouring properties, if all goes according to the city’s plans.

The George Street Revitalization project, which has been in the works since at least 2013, got a boost yesterday when the city and province issued a request for qualification for the project, a first step before seeking design proposals.

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The project will reinvent the block of George Street and eventually result in a long-term care home, a transitional living facility, an emergency shelter, affordable housing, and a community hub serving the local neighbourhood, Mayor John Tory announced Nov. 5.

“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,” Tory said.

Sidewalk and streetscape improvements are also part of the plan for George Street, linking Moss Park to Allan Gardens and reinforcing the identity of the area known as the Garden District.

George Street derelict buildings
STILL STANDING: Many buildings on George Street are in various stages of disrepair, renovation and rebuilding.

Local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said she is happy the next phase of the revitalization plan is starting.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

George Street view
SUNNY FUTURE: A revitalized George Street is proposed to help create a safer and more vibrant community.

The project is expected to result in about 622,000 square feet of new construction and restored heritage buildings.

The new Seaton House is expected to be operational by July 2022.