dLAB, also known as the the Durham Learning and Business district, is a development project meant to bring together business and learning institutions to create economic opportunity. This month the project is beginning construction on a housing project to provide residence for students of both Durham College and Trent University.
The housing project has been underway for about a month now and will comprise of 185 units and is being built by a private company. Both schools are currently in the process of performing market research to see how deep interest for new housing is in that market.
The Whitby portion of the project known as dLAB West is 24 acres of industrial land located beside Durham College and Highway 401. The plan is for dLAB to comprise of 10-12 building lots of two acres or more where buildings would be constructed for companies and educational facilities.
“It’s really about taking a leadership role in the economic and social development of our community,” said the president of Durham College Don Lovisa, about the reason why the college has involved itself with the project. “It’s about providing a jobs placement and opportunity for our students, and it’s about a project that is very unique.”
Lovisa said Durham College also got involved so the college could find out who its neighbours were and what they were planning for the land. The president says this is complementary to what the college is trying to achieve with building a reputation around the pillars of the Whitby campus.
“It could have been a water park, it could have been any number of things, none of those things materialized because I think we were waiting for dLAB,” said Marvin Green, president of River Oaks Group, which is in charge of overseeing the development of dLAB west.
“What we decided to look at was what is already going on here, in terms of infrastructure, but really in education, training and economic development.”
He says this way they have been able to add to and better develop the economic and educational institutions located in Durham that were already being expressed in Durham Region, especially when it came to the College.
Green said the Oshawa portion of dLAB is just advancing now, mainly Producers Avenue, an area that is planned to be a key north-south street for commercial and industrial development. The street will be a dense, compact place comprised mostly of three-storey buildings.
“What we want to have happen here is a place for learning and business,” Green said. “The opportunities, talents, and resources of the region, we want to bring them all together in one place that is designed for the exchange of formal ideas and informal ideas.”
Green said the idea behind Producers Avenue is to have people interacting, learning, doing deals, and training so it can become a big economic development project.
“It’s a fun project, “Lovisa said. ”It’s an ever-growing project; the group meets on a monthly basis, it exciting to see it advance. We think it’s is important to the future of Durham Region and even more important to the future of our students and their job opportunities.”