Leslieville Lofts Dead
Brad Lamb goes to Plan B
By Natalie Alcoba, National Post
The sign has come down for Lamb Development Corp and Hyde Park Homes’ Leslieville Lofts, located off Queen Street East, after the Ontario Municipal Board ruled against the nine-storey proposal.
The city had opposed the project, Brad J. Lamb said in an interview. Mr. Lamb says he still intends to build on Broadview Avenue, but it will be in the form of a stacked townhouse, and the project won’t bear the name “Leslieville,” since the address is actually in neighbouring Riverside.
“If we had won, we would be going for financing now, and there’s no doubt it’s a more challenging environment. Any development in the city that has achieved 70% of their pre-sales, and the budget makes sense — in other words, they sold them at a high enough price that protects the bank — banks are lending developers money,” said Mr. Lamb. “All our projects that we’ve been involved with have got financing.”
On Friday, city budget chief Shelley Carroll revealed that a “handful” of Toronto developers were placed in tricky positions when the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed and cast doubt on their financing. “They’re domesticating now, and so the projects will go ahead,” Ms. Carroll said. Still, the city moved last week to freeze development charges in the midst of the credit crisis.
Toronto Building, the city office that issues development permits, said it has not seen the number of building applicants drop. Ann Borooah, chief building official, said the office is not usually appraised of projects that went sour. “They would take more time to proceed to the next stage of approval, or more time to proceed to construction. It would be some time before it’s confirmed that a project was in trouble,” she said.
In the case of the Leslieville Lofts, it was the city and the neighbourhood that came out against the development, said local councillor Paula Fletcher.
“Not only did people not like the height, they were very annoyed that they were trying to market Leslieville into the Riverside district,” said Ms. Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth).
She said other projects have respected the four-storey limit on Broadview, north of Queen Street, which is zoned as “neighbourhood.”
Mr. Lamb said his team believed the city had erred in its zoning, and that it in fact made sense to be able to “frame” the intersection with buildings of similar height on both the north and south side. Another Lamb project, called The Ninety, is nine storeys high and set to be located south of Queen.
“It’s actually quite typical for a project to be approved at twice or many times three or four times higher than the current zoning,” he said. “What’s strange is this very sacrosanct zoning in the city that’s called neighbourhood, and they fight very hard when you try to change a neighbourhood zoning,” he said.
He said most of King Street West has a zoning of 18 metres, “but they easily allow 30 metres.”
Anyone who had purchased a Leslieville Loft can get a refund, can buy at another Lamb development or sign up for the Leslieville reincarnation, said Mr. Lamb. About 50% of the units had been sold since it went on the market nine months ago.
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