Historic Soho affordable housing megaproject turns sod at former hospital site

London Free Press by Megan Stacey, posted Oct 15, 2022

The $2 million property sale now complete, work will begin soon on a massive affordable housing project on the old Victoria Hospital site.

The 680-unit development will breathe new life into two heritage buildings on the former hospital campus in the Soho neighbourhood near downtown and open up more than 300 new affordable or below-market rental units.

Six non-profit housing providers have teamed up, under direction from the London Community Foundation, to build the Vision Soho Alliance project. The total price tag is pegged around $300 million.

“What we're going to have is a world class, urban, infill development,” said Greg Playford of Homes Unlimited, calling the design “outstanding.”

“It really is going to be something special.”

Martha Powell, chief executive of the London Community Foundation, said she is “absolutely ecstatic.”

Hundreds of people showed up to a groundbreaking event on Friday.

“You're not only changing these properties, you're changing lives,” Mayor Ed Holder said.


Construction is expected to start on an underground parking garage before the end of the year. It has to come first since four of the buildings will rest on top. “It's not really sexy, but it's important,” Powell said of the parking garage, which will have more than 250 spaces. The development is expected to take about four years.


351 Hill St.: Homes Unlimited will build 93 units, mostly one-bedroom units, but also 24 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom units. It's expected to open in 2025.

373 Hill St: Chelsea Green Home Society will build 80 units, including 28 lofts, 29 one-bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom units. It's expected to open in 2025.

385 Hill St: London Affordable Housing Foundation will build 75 units, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedrooms. It's expected to open in 2025.

346 South St.: Indwell will redevelop this building, the former health services building, into 96 units, a mix of one and two-bedrooms. All will be “deeply affordable,” rented at rates around $500 per month. It's expected to open in 2025.

370 South St.: Zerin Development Corp. will build 118 units here, a mix of one and two-bedrooms. It's expected to open in 2024.

392 South St: Indwell will redevelop this building, the former Children's Hospital, into 42 units, a mix of studios and one-bedrooms. All will be rented at about $500 a month. It's expected to open in 2024.

124 Colborne St: Residenza Affordable Housing (formerly Italian Seniors Project) will build Residenza Victoria, a 180-unit building. It'll include an 11-storey building dropping down to five storeys.


A $1 million donation from the London Food Bank to address food security of tenants in the affordable housing, as well as the wider Soho neighbourhood, was announced Friday. It is slated to help create community kitchens in the Indwell buildings. Indwell already focuses on food security, including nutrition, cooking and food literacy programming, among other supports.


It's a massive project, billed as the “largest affordable housing development in London's history,” by
London Community Foundation chair Erin Naylor. City council has agreed to hand over $20 million. Each of the housing providers is putting in their own equity. The community foundation will seek private donations and tap other foundations across Canada for help. Federal government grants and loans also will play a big role, starting with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., officials said Friday.


Half of the units in the new development will be apartments rented at market rate. The other half will range in affordability. Most of the non-profits will rent units at 70 to 80 per cent of average market rents across the city. Indwell provide “deeply affordable” housing, by setting rents according to what someone on disability payments could afford to pay.


684 units

300+ affordable or below-market rent units

$300-million development 4 years to build it

$2 million purchase of the land 3 weeks ago the land was acquired


The old Victoria Hospital previously was known as London General Hospital, but its name was changed in 1899 for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.

The hospital provided employment for many in the Soho neighbourhood. Historian Michelle Hamilton spoke Friday about many Italian immigrants who worked in the laundry room, speaking their native tongue and learning English.

Al Day, head of the N'amerind Friendship Centre, said he'll be working on ways to address the spirits of those who died which remain in the building or on the property.