London

Embassy Commons: 72-unit affordable apartment building set for late spring opening

New units geared toward tenants who struggle with precarious housing intended to address 'unrelenting pressure' renters are feeling in London's hot housing and rental market.

Squeaky Wheel Co-Op and Edgar and Joe's Cafe among new building's retail tenants

The former site of the Embassy Hotel, this residence at 744 Dundas Street will include 72 one-and two bedroom suites offered at below market value. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

A new apartment building that will bring 72 affordable units to London's Old East Village is set to open in late spring and according to the head of the charity backing the project, it can't come soon enough. 

"We're seeing unrelenting pressure on renting households in London," said Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development with Indwell. "Every time an apartment comes available, we're seeing huge jumps in the rent. People are struggling just to find an apartment, especially anything that's in a reasonable price point." 

The three-storey building is located at 744 Dundas St., in the heart of Old East Village at the corner of English Street. One-bedroom units will rent for $570 a month.

It sits on the lot once home to the Embassy Hotel, an Old East landmark and cultural hotspot gutted by a fire in 2009. In a nod to the site's history, the new building will be called Embassy Commons. 

Of the building's 72 units, five will be two-bedroom units. Cubitt said Indwell is working with the City of London to ensure the units go to tenants whose struggles with addiction, mental health or affordability mean they need help finding a stable place to live. 

Ground floor retail

The building will also include ground-floor retail spaces intended to help add vibrancy to what has for the past 10 years been an empty lot surrounded by construction fencing. The tenants include the Squeaky Wheel bike co-op, a volunteer supported, self-serve bike repair shop. 

Edgar and Joe's Cafe along with a pharmacy will round out the retail tenants. 

About $2 million of the project's $20 million price tag will be covered by community donations. According to the project's website, $1.6 million has been raised so far. 

"In the last week and a half, we've had $200,000 raised," said Cubitt. "We'd love to see about another half million dollars raised between now and opening. We fell very hopeful with the level of fundraising so far." 

Indwell was also involved in developing 356 Dundas St., which has 67 one-bedroom apartments for $560 a month.

Embassy Commons arrives as the city wraps up work to improve the OEV streetscape with the addition of a new bike lane. 

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