Vienna is Building a $6BN “City Within a City”

Austria’s capital is building one of Europe’s biggest (and smartest) urban developments. ALLPLAN’s Planbar is helping create the pre-cast construction parts.

As cities around the world grapple with a crisis of affordable housing, Vienna has been keeping it at bay. How the Austrian capital got there may offer a model strategy for cities worldwide.

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Ontario Builds the First Elementary School in Toronto Condo.

Innovative Partnership with Municipality and Developer to Deliver New Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School in High-Density Development.

TORONTO—The Ontario government is investing $44 million to build the new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School to help working families in Toronto. This historic investment to support families in urban communities in the City of Toronto through the Toronto District School Board, announced by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure, will create 455 student spaces as part of the Ford Government’s commitment to building modern, accessible, and technologically connected schools for Ontario youth.

The new school is an innovative project undertaken in collaboration with the school board and Menkes Developments. A podium school, the project is unique in Ontario and will create a school within a new mixed-use condominium project, providing more student accommodation for the lower Yonge and waterfront neighbourhoods. Once complete, the new school could be replicated as an innovative solution to meeting the education needs of working families in urban and high-density environments.

“With many families living in condos and high-density urban communities, we believe their children deserve access to modern and safe schools in the hearts of their communities,” said Minister Lecce. “I am proud to deliver this progressive urban school within a high-density condominium project. This innovative partnership will provide access for young families to a state-of-the-art school in the heart of Toronto.”

The project is part of a provincewide investment of more than $600 million to support new school and child care spaces that were recently announced by Minister Lecce. The overall investment will support 78 school and child care related projects. As part of this investment, the province dedicated more than $565 million to create more than 19,700 new student spaces and 1,500 child care spaces at schools across the province.

“The new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School will be a great new addition to our city and will provide much-needed space for students. We know that in a growing city like Toronto, we need unique and creative approaches to creating important public spaces like schools. This new project between the provincial government and Menkes Development will bring the school right into the community at a new mixed-use condominium. If we want to build up this city and our neighbourhoods, we need to ensure that residents have access to all the services they need, including schools – this is one example of how we will achieve this,” said Mayor John Tory.

The investment is part of the Ontario government’s commitment to provide $14 billion to support school construction over 10 years. There are currently more than 300 child care and education building-related projects in development across Ontario with more than 100 actively under construction.

“Innovative infrastructure like the new Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School not only ensures the best learning environment for our children, it also helps us build more vibrant and resourceful communities. This is part of our government’s plan to invest more than $148 billion over the next 10 years to build schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public transit, highways and other facilities families depend on,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure.

Ontario’s investment in new and updated schools will create the foundation for a modern learning environment for hundreds of students across the province. Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School will be located at Yonge and Harbour Street in Toronto.

“We are thrilled to build Canada’s first elementary school that is completely integrated within a high-density mixed-use development right in downtown Toronto,” said Stephanie Donaldson, Trustee, Ward 9, Davenport and Spadina – Fort York. “This is great news for students in the area and an exciting opportunity for the Toronto District School Board to shape an innovative urban school model that can be used across Ontario and Canada.”

More than $600 million has been allocated to support ventilation improvements in schools across Ontario to support a safer return to school. The Toronto District School Board has benefited from an investment of $65.8 million for ventilation improvements and has almost 16,000 HEPA filter units in place.

Nestled on Toronto’s Waterfront, Sugar Wharf Condominiums is everything you’ve been dreaming of. A place where dreams, work and play live happily. It’s where homes, offices, shopping, restaurants, daycare, transit, schools and parks are rolled into one magical community. Sugar Wharf combines everything you love into the sweetest life you can imagine.

In a first for the province — and believed to be unique in Canada — a “vertical school” will be built into the third floor of the project on Lake Shore Blvd. E., just east of Yonge St., the Star has learned.

The Ontario government is set to announce its $44 million contribution for the new school on Friday morning, a partnership between the province, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Menkes Developments.

Unlike its other schools, the board will not own the land, but rather the space it occupies in the building.

A child-care centre is in the works for the second floor, beneath the school, and both will have vestibule space on the main floor to help get the kids upstairs.

The school, temporarily named Lower Yonge Precinct Elementary School, will house 445 students.

“With many families living in condos and high-density urban communities, we believe their children deserve access to modern and safe schools in the hearts of their communities,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement.

“I am proud to deliver this progressive urban school within a high-density condominium project. This innovative partnership will provide access for young families to a state-of-the-art school in the heart of Toronto.”

For years, the Toronto board has struggled with where to put new schools in densely populated neighbourhoods where land is either unavailable or unaffordable.

In 2016, the board began looking at vertical schools as an answer to serving such areas — the waterfront, Yonge-Eglinton or Yonge-Sheppard — where children are often bused to schools outside their neighbourhood.

The new school, which is expected to open in 2024, will have access to 2.47 acres of central, green space in the larger condo development where kids can play.

“We know that in a growing city like Toronto, we need unique and creative approaches to creating important public spaces like schools,” Mayor John Tory said in a written statement.

“This new project between the provincial government and Menkes Developments will bring the school right into the community at a new mixed-use condominium. If we want to build up this city and our neighbourhoods, we need to ensure that residents have access to all the services they need, including schools — this is one example of how we will achieve this.”

Local TDSB Trustee Stephanie Donaldson (Ward 9, Davenport/Spadina-Fort York) said “we are thrilled to build Canada’s first elementary school that is completely integrated within a high-density, mixed-use development right in downtown Toronto.”

She said, “This is great news for students in the area and an exciting opportunity for the Toronto District School Board to shape an innovative urban school model that can be used across Ontario and Canada.”

While the Toronto District School Board has already partnered with developers. In the case of North Toronto Collegiate in the Yonge-Eglinton area, it funded the redevelopment of the old building by selling off a portion of the schoolyard for condos.

The difference there, however, is that the board still owns the land the school sits on, and the condo was added on site.

Vertical schools have popped up around the world in big, space-strapped cities — New York has Spruce Street School which takes up four floors of a 76-storey apartment tower.

If you are interested in this project call us at 416-966-9993 or email at info @condominiums.com for available suites and price list. Real estate services by Hermes Yorkville Real Estate Brokerage.

Apartment For Sale – – 2 Bedrooms – 3 Bathrooms – Price $3,580,000 – C | Condominiums.com

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The Rise of Brooklyn’s First Supertall Skyscraper.

9 Dekalb Avenue will be the tallest structure in New York City outside of Manhattan and the first supertall skyscraper ever built in Brooklyn. #brooklyncondos #nyccondominiums #condominiums #condos #newyorkcondos #newyorkcityapartments #nycapartments

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Building New York’s $200M Apartment.

Rising 472 metres from Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row, Central Park Tower is the world’s tallest residential building – and its three-storey penthouse breaks new limits. 

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Clueless Politicians created The Problem. Now Others Are Tackling Zoning Around Transit and For Missing Middle Housing

Housing and zoning reform is taking center stage in the Washington State Legislature where a handful of bills will be heard in committee to address long-standing injustices in local zoning codes that ban housing other than single-family detached homes. Two bills in particular stand out among the pack: House Bill 1782 and House Bill 2020.

We’ve already covered House Bill 1782, but essentially it would allow missing middle housing in most cities planning under Growth Management Act. Cities over 10,000 residents would need to allow a duplex on every lot that allows a single-family home. Additional requirements generally would apply to cities, particular around major transit stops:

  • In cities with 20,000 or more residents, all lots allowing single-family homes would need to also allow triplexes and fourplexes;
  • In cities with 20,000 or more residents, all lots allowing single-family homes within a half-mile of a major transit stop would also need to allow fiveplexes, sixplexes, stacked flats, townhouses, and courtyard apartments.

The Senate is also hearing an identical companion bill to this: Senate Bill 5670.

House Bill 2020 provides another complementary avenue for housing and zoning reform focused exclusively around transit communities. In short, it would apply to cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act and require that residential zoning around certain transit facilities allow denser housing geared toward low- and moderate-income households, essentially covering households at or below 120% of the area median income of the local county.

Specifically, House Bill 2020 would require zoning to be modified near all light rail and major transit hub stops as follows:

  • Within a quarter-mile, allow a base maximum height of nine stories;
  • Within a half-mile, allow a base maximum height of six stories;
  • Within one mile, allow a base maximum height of five stories, impose no density limit beyond bulk and height standards, and limit any parking requirements to the maximum established by King County’s Right Size Parking Calculator.

The bill would also allow for one additional story above the base maximum height if at least 20% of the units are set aside as affordable to low- and moderate-income households.

For the purposes of the bill, a “major transit hub” is any stop served by commuter rail, monorail, streetcars, Sound Transit’s high capacity transit system, bus rapid transit, and fixed route bus service that run in high occupancy lanes or run at least every 15 minutes for at least five hours during peak hours on weekdays. This is largely the “major transit stop” definition for House Bill 1782, except that state ferry terminals are also included in House Bill 1782.

Along with the aforementioned provisions, the bill further requires that certified sustainable housing programs be established. The certified sustainable housing programs are intended to promote green building and streamline review and approval of green buildings.

Overall, House Bill 2020 would have transformative implications to cities and counties in Puget Sound in particular. Many cities and unincorporated urban growth areas would need to increase development capacity in residentially-zoned areas. This would cover most parts of cities like Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond as well as significant portions of Everett, Tacoma, and suburban cities like Medina, Lynnwood, Kent, and Kenmore.

Missing Middle Housing Bill Tackling Exclusionary Zoning Statewide.

Washington could follow in the example of Oregon and California by chipping away at the predominance of single-family zoning across the state with new proposed legislation, House Bill 1782 and companion Senate Bill 5670.

“It’s time for Washington to lift bans that prevent the construction of modest home choices like duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and cottages,” Representative Jessica Bateman (D-22nd District), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in an email. “We are experiencing a housing crisis in every corner of the state with families spending up to half their income on rent.”

That crisis is racialized and linked to the homelessness crisis.

“This disproportionately hurts communities of color, who have been historically harmed by redlining and are more likely to be renters,” Bateman added. “By allowing these modest homes choices, in high opportunity and amenity rich areas we can unlock opportunity for Washington families and ensure everyone has a place to call home.”

In addition to Representative Bateman, the bill was sponsored by Nicole Macri (D-43rd District), Liz Berry (D-36th District), Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th District), and Cindy Ryu (D-32nd District), and a companion piece has been filed in the State Senate by Senator Mona Das (D-47th District) and Patty Kuderer (D-48th District). The bill was requested by Governor Jay Inslee and included within his proposed homelessness plan.

The key to increasing density in this bill is missing middle housing, for example small multifamily developments like duplexes, townhomes, rowhouses, and courtyard apartments.

If it were to pass as written, the law would require cities with a population of at least 20,000 and planning under the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow for duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes to be constructed on all lots zoned for detached single-family homes. In areas within a half-mile of a major transit stop, which is defined as a stop for high capacity transit (e.g., light rail), commuter rail, fixed rail (e.g., monorail and streetcar), bus rapid transit, state ferry terminals, or any bus stop providing service at least every 15 minutes during certain weekday peak hours, these cities would also need to allow for all missing middle housing types, including sixplexes and townhouses.

In Seattle, most residential areas have transit service that meets that benchmark, meaning sixplexes and townhouses could be built in much of the city under the proposed law. In 2019, the Seattle Department of Transportation calculated that 70% of Seattle households lived within a 10-minute walk of very frequent transit service, defined more stringently than that state threshold with 10-minute headways during peak hours.

A partial alternative, however, exists for cities that don’t prefer to fully pursue the sweeping zoning change scenario on lots outside of major transit stop overlays. Under the law, cities could opt out of the requirement by adopting an average minimum density equivalent set by the city’s size. Even so, for all cities planning under the GMA with at least 10,000 residents, duplexes would be allowed on all lots zoned for detached single-family homes whether or not they adopt the minimum density equivalent.

Washington is not the first to pursue statewide zoning reform. Last fall, the State of California effectively ended single-family zoning when it signed into law State Bill 9, which permits duplexes (and in some cases triplexes and fourplexes) in all areas zoned for single-family housing. Aimed at facilitating “gradual density,” under the new rules, up to 700,000 new homes could be added across California, a number representing the proverbial drop in the bucket when compared to the state’s current 7.5 million single-family homes.

While the long-term impact of SB 9 on the Golden State remains to be seen, it did move the needle a bit further forward in the fight to end exclusionary zoning than a bill passed in 2019 by the Oregon state legislature that requires cities with more than 10,000 residents to allow duplexes in areas zoned for single-family homes. That bill also increased density allowances in the Portland metro area to include triplexes, fourplexes, and courtyard apartments.

Increasing residential density in the Evergreen State

Washington’s HB 1782 has some features that make it unique from the approaches taken by California and Oregon.

The first important feature to point out that HB 1782 only pertains to cities planning under the GMA with populations of 10,000 or more residents. That leaves out smaller and often wealthier cities and towns like Woodway, Hunts Point, and Medina as well as other urban growth areas in GMA counties and non-GMA code cities and towns. Thus, while the majority of the state’s most populated areas would be forced to comply, unincorporated areas that have already been experiencing the impacts of suburban sprawl and smaller communities would be exempt.

Another notable feature of the bill is the provision it makes for cities planning under the GMA to forgo the prescribed single-family zoning changes outside frequent transit areas by adopting an alternative based on an average minimum density equivalent. Back in 2018, former Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1st District) introduced a minimum density bill focused around transit that failed to garner support. The minimum density equivalent requirement in HB 1782 works a bit differently than Palumbo’s proposal. Instead of requiring to nodes of density centered around transit, HB 1782 would establish baselines for minimum density equivalents based on city population size, but otherwise grant cities considerable freedom in how they fulfill the density requirement.

As the state’s only city with a population topping 500,000 residents, Seattle would have to “alter local zoning to allow an average minimum density equivalent to 40 [homes] or more per gross acre across the entirety of the city’s urban growth area.” While that requirement might appear steep, using content from the book Visualizing Compatible Density for reference, that amount of housing could be visualized as “urban townhouses and live-work units served by underground parking and containing private patios and a centralized, shared courtyard space.” Thus, a fairly moderate density scenario.

However, some ambiguity exists in the language around what city land would be included in the count toward the density equivalent. Hammering out that detail will provide more clarity as to how much residential density would be required under the alternative.

It’s also important to highlight use of the word “average” in the context of the rules. Although the law would allow for duplexes to be built in all single-family zones in the city, by averaging out its zoned density to meet the minimum requirements, Seattle could leave at least some single-family zoned areas relatively untouched. Such an approach to growth could perpetuate existing land use patterns that have funneled growth in urban villages. In an attempt to mitigate this outcome, the HB 1782 mandates that cities “adopt findings of fact demonstrating that actions taken to implement that average minimum density will not result in racially disparate impacts, displacement, or further exclusion in housing.”

Seattle will likely find it difficult to make the case that preserving exclusionary zoning would not come at a cost. A study completed by PolicyLink for the City of Seattle last year was unequivocal in its findings on the negative impact of single-family zoning on racial equity.

In an effort to further limit potential negative consequences arising from zoning changes, HB 1782 also requires that cities adopt anti-displacement measures within nine months of implementation.

Other Washington cities that decide to opt for an average minimum density equivalent would receive lower density requirements tiered by size. For example, cities like Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Kent, Everett, Renton, Spokane Valley, and Federal Way, which each have over 100,000 residents, would receive an average minimum density equivalent of “30 [homes] or more per gross acre across the entirety of the city’s urban growth area.”

The number would continue to dip for cities with lower populations: 25 homes per gross acre would be required for cities with 20,000 to 100,000 residents; and 15 homes per gross acre for cities with fewer than 20,000 residents.

In order to avoid potential barriers arising from design review, environmental review, and permitting processes, HB 1782 is explicit that cities must use same standards and processes for missing middle housing (e.g., duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and courtyard apartments) that are used for detached single-family dwellings.

Another aspect of the bill worth mentioning is that it provides a safe harbor provision for jurisdictions implementing the laws. Actions taken under the laws would be fully exempt from environmental review (State Environmental Policy Act) appeals. That’s a big deal because it would eliminate a lot of red tape and delays that could be created in the courts. As has been well documented, opponents to small projects like the Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link” have managed to tie Seattle up in the courts for years over the adequacy of environmental review documents and baseless assertions. So closing that as an adversarial avenue would help realize the benefits of the laws sooner and ensure certainty for all.

In regards to parking, cities cannot require off-street parking for missing middle housing within a half-mile of a major transit stop.

For developments that do not fall under the major transit stop umbrella, only one parking space per lot could be required on lots smaller than 6,000 square feet, and no more than two off-street parking spaces per lot could be required for missing middle housing constructed on lots greater than 6,000 square feet.

As a whole, for cities planning under the GMA, the bill would result in substantive land use changes. It will still need to work its way through the House and Senate for approval, so it’s possible for significant provisions in the bill to change as part of the negotiation process.

To recap, the bill would make the following changes:

  • For cities with between 10,000 and 20,000 residents planning under the GMA, duplex zoning replaces single-family zoning citywide. Such a city may opt to allow for other types of missing middle housing (e.g., triplexes, quadplexes, and courtyard apartments).
  • For cities with at least 20,000 residents, within a half-mile radius of major transit stops, sixplex zoning essentially replaces single-family zoning and parking minimums are voided. Cities opting for an alternate minimum density plan must still abide by this condition.
  • For cities greater than 20,000 residents, in areas not located within a half-mile of major transit stops, fourplex zoning essentially replaces single-family zoning citywide unless the city adopts a citywide minimum density measure laid out in the bill. Parking minimums are capped at one parking spot per lot, or two for larger lots (6,000 square feet or more).
  • If Seattle chooses this option, it must hit a 40 dwelling unit per acre threshold with its rezone plan across the city.
  • Cities choosing a minimum density alternative outside major transit stop areas with a population between 100,000 and 500,000 must hit a 30 dwelling unit per acre threshold across their urban growth area with their alternate plan. This density is essentially on par with fourplexes. As of the 2020 Census, cities of this size include Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver, Kent, Renton, Kirkland, Spokane, and Spokane Valley.
  • Cities choosing a minimum density alternative outside major transit stop areas with a population between 20,000 and 100,000 must hit a 25 dwelling unit per acre threshold across their urban growth area with their alternate plan.

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