A recently-approved tower near King and Spadina will contain something that no other building in Toronto has: A floor of affordable housing built by the developer expressly for tenants who work in the building.

When complete, at least seven rental units on one floor of the 41-storey combined hotel and condo tower at 56 Blue Jays Way will be reserved for hotel workers.

It’s an innovative rental scheme brought to you by Coun. Adam Vaughan, the Ward 20 champion of family-sized downtown condominiums and affordable housing. Tenants will pay less than market to rent the units and, in exchange, the developer has been given permission by city council to build a taller condo than allowed by zoning.

“Hotel workers can live on the same site where they work, so people don’t have to drive, walk or take transit to work. They can simply take the stairs,” says Vaughan, who is looking at projects near hospitals to similarly embed strategic downtown workers.

But the deal is a one-off, made possible only because of Vaughan’s political will and the developer’s willingness.

The agreement was brokered under Section 37 of the city’s official plan, which stipulates that developers have to pay fees to community benefits in exchange for higher density.

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