If you have been following local news, you may have heard about Mount Dennis. Either in relation to the upcoming major transit infrastructure improvements…or, possibly, to a violent crime.
Mount Dennis is not without its problems, but neighbourhoods in transition rarely are. It was once called Toronto’s worst neighbourhood by The Toronto Star’s (now defunct) hip free paper, “The Grid.” But every value story has to start somewhere.
Not unlike many of Toronto’s newly gentrified areas, Mount Dennis was once an industrial hub with dozens of factories and businesses. And, just like the others, it took a hit when the industry migrated out of the city. It wasn’t long before crime started to rise and the area was identified as being in particular need of revitalization. At the heart of it all for almost 100 years was the Kodak Factory, which closed in 2005 and will soon be reincarnated as a storage facility for the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT line.
Thanks to a strong community association and BIA, the neighbourhood has started to turn a corner and today plans to build a Mobility Hub have sparked new interest in the area. The Mobility Hub will provide access to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, a new GO Transit stop with connection to the Kitchener line and access to the Union-Pearson Express route. A 15-bay bus terminal, which will be one of Toronto’s largest, is also part of the plan. In the news more recently is a plan to expand the Eglinton Crosstown LRT west of Mount Dennis, providing access to the Mississauga Airport Commercial Centre (MACC).
Investors have been acquiring local properties in anticipation of the Mount Dennis Mobility Hub and property prices have increased an average of 11% per year since 2011.
The large Anglican Church site at the corner of Weston and Eglinton is in the planning stages of a massive condominium development. The West Park Health Centre nearby is also redeveloping their facility and planning to include a non-hospital housing development for seniors and people with disabilities. In addition, a 71-unit townhouse development at 955-969 Weston Rd is in the works. These projects are the first of many that will spur further residential and retail development.
The neighbourhood is also working towards reshaping its urban landscape through an environmentally sustainable transformation. Since 2014, the Mount Dennis Community Association has been collaborating with the TO EcoNeighbourhoods Initiative, laying the groundwork for the Mount Dennis Area Eco-Neighbourhood Vision and Action Plan. The TO EcoNeighbourhoods Initiative has identified Mount Dennis as 1 of 16 “EcoDistricts” along Toronto’s LRT lines. The EcoNeighbourhoods plan works toward sustainable transformation of existing areas. It supports “collaborative action by residents, owners, business, non-profits and government to achieve a reduced environmental footprint while enhancing community resiliency, livability, equity, health and prosperity.”
The progress is slow, but the area is changing.
The retail environment along the main stretch of Weston Road is dilapidated. Many shops sit vacant with ‘For Lease’ signs pasted to the storefront windows waiting for better times to come. A surprising number of pizza and wing joints occupy the space that is leased on Weston Road. Currently the anchor tenant in the community is Caplan’s Appliances, a large top-end appliance store. The business occupies two buildings on Weston Road, including a Meile Gallery, which offers cooking demonstration classes. There is also a artisan cafe, “Supercoffee” that appears to have defied the odds and kept its doors open. A controversial art installation called ‘Nyctophilia’ aims to lighten up the streetscape at Weston Road and Dennis Ave with multicoloured street lamps. As well, the local library recently underwent a well received $4 million re-design.
Where should you buy in Mt. Dennis right now?
There are many different types of homes in Mount Dennis, and they vary drastically in quality. Start by looking at detached brick homes with private or secure parking, on Guestville Avenue and the perimeter of Fergy Brown Park. For best value, the house should be within short walking distance to the new Mobility Hub at Weston and Eglinton. Because this area has had issues with sewage back-ups, inquire about this issue and be vigilant when in the basement. (The city is currently looking at upgrading the sewage system to accommodate the expected population increase in the coming years) It would also be good to be aware of the many large low-income rental towers in the area, and the impact they may have on property value.
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