On September 26th 2019, ULI Toronto, in partnership with the Depanneur, rounded up a dynamic group of stakeholders from the social purpose real estate space for a roundtable conversation on the topic. Social purpose real estate is an emerging term referring most broadly to the availability, accessibility, and affordability of real estate for mission-driven organizations serving the needs of the local community. The term suggests that stakeholders from all sides of the table can work together to find creative solutions that encourage and enable meaningful use of space that supports community development.
We shared a meal, prepared by Valis, a foodcraft startup and incubatee of the Depanneur, and participated in passionate discussion around the many real estate issues impacting social purpose organizations. A number of success stories, such as the Depanneur, provide benchmarks and case studies for what is possible.
We asked ourselves questions such as: How do we create and sustain authentic places that are rich in social and cultural infrastructure? How do we make better use of meanwhile spaces over the development lifecycle? How can government and development policies support the ideals of social purpose real estate, especially in cities like Toronto where soaring land values, gentrification, and traditional approaches to real estate don’t always prioritize the needs of social enterprises.
Major takeaways from the evening invite further conversation and collaboration at all levels from community, to developers, to government. Understanding of the value that social enterprises bring to community and the desperate need for accessible and affordable space is critical.
As city builders continue to innovate and work toward positively shaping the built environment, social purpose real estate invites new perspective with a conscious and deliberate response to the need for economic return and creation of social good together.
We will be continuing this important conversation, providing further opportunities for the industry to better understand the opportunities and future of social purpose real estate in the fabric of our growing cities.