02/11/2014 11:04 EST | Updated 04/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Alexandra Park revitalization begins

Demolition and transformation of the Alexandra Park neighbourhood began Tuesday.

The plan is to take low-rise social housing and build condos with a mix of low income and market value properties in the area west of Spadina Avenue, between Queen Street and Dundas Street.

“It will be the best thing for the community because it will give them a renewed sense of feeling of life, of being able to move forward,” said William Shane, Alexandra Park resident.

Unlike the revitalization of Regent Park, another social housing and low income area, residents won't be displaced and most will stay in nearby buildings.

“This has always been about the residents and the Alexandra Park co-op and the vision they've had for a better city and a better neighbourhood,” said Coun. Adam Vaughan.

The project will take anywhere from 12 to 15 years to complete.

Many hope revitalizing the area will also help kick start jobs and other opportunities for the community.

Colleen Lavallee, an area resident, is hopeful about that.

“Through the economic activity that's generated, we want to make sure our residents are getting employed, getting investment opportunities, home ownership opportunities,” said Lavallee.

However, some urban planners fear that those opportunities don’t always materialize in situations like this.

“Sometimes you do see tensions emerging in mixed income communities so its not always this picture of social harmony,” said Martine August, an Urban Planning Ph.D.

August adds that studies have shown that often in the changeover, social networks and the sense of community is also demolished.

“Increasingly a lot of academics are saying, we're at the point where we know enough about this that we should stop experimenting with low-income people living in public housing,” she said.