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Plans taking shape for new affordable housing development at former school site in Argyle neighbourhood

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Plans are taking shape for a new subdivision in London, Ont.’s east end. The infill site in the Admiral Drive and Trafalgar Street neighbourhood will feature mixed income housing.

Neighbour Jamie Ecube, a mother of two, likes what she’s heard about the project so far.

“I think it’s going to be okay because for the kids, they’re going to be socializing with the other kids,” said Ecube, whose Admiral Drive home backs onto the property.

The site is the former St. Robert Catholic Elementary School Property, which was purchased by the city in 2020.

It’s a wide swath of green space that is being used by neighbours as a park and walking area.

“This is a city-led redevelopment project. We bought the school land and we’re going to lead the design,” said Ward Coun. and Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis.

City council is being asked to award the design contract for an affordable housing apartment building at 1958 Duluth Cres. on one section of the property.

The single-source contract valued at $661,572 would go to Architects Tillman Ruth Robinson.

The former St. Robert Catholic Elementary School site on Duluth Crescent, seen on May 17, 2024, where an affordable housing project is being developed. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

“This is just the first of a five-block phasing over there, and it’s going to see a variety of different housing types developed,” explained Lewis. “There will be townhouses. There will be apartment buildings. There’s even going to be a couple of single-family rent-to-own housing builds happening there.”

Duluth Crescent resident Charlie Won told CTV News he sometimes sees people utilizing the property for living space.

“They put mattress and sleep there,” he said. “Sometimes they make a lot of noise, but they’re okay.”

The apartment at 1958 Duluth Cres. would replicate the building at 403 Thompson Rd.

It’s a four-storey, 44 unit affordable housing development, operated by the charity Indwell. The group is known for supportive housing projects across southwestern Ontario.

“Right now we do not have a partner identified. Certainly a supportive housing partner like Indwell could come forward,” said Lewis.

The reaction from neighbours to the possibility of formerly “unhoused” people living in their midst has been mixed. One senior on Admiral Drive, who didn’t want her name to be shared, said she’s okay with the plan.

“Well if it’s kept neat and tidy and there’s no things like theft and drugs and so on, that’s fine with me,” she said.

Admiral Drive resident Carolyn Peckham, is not so pleased, “Why build a place that’s going to be demolished? These people are drug addicts, so whatever, they destroy things. Sorry.”

The design contract will be considered by city council’s Community and Protective Services Committee on May 21.

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