Bloor condo hits roadblock as councillor raises concerns with 83-storey project’s plans
Jake Edmiston – National Post
A developer is proposing Canada’s tallest residential tower less than a block from the site of One Bloor — the controversial 80-storey model that promised to claim the title before the 2008 economic crisis stunted the project. The owners of 50 Bloor St. West have submitted an application to build an 83-storey condominium on top of the existing Holt Renfrew outlet.
But the local councillor isn’t sold on the project that would see a 277-metre skyscraper developed on Bloor Street West between Yonge and Bay streets.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam of Ward 27 says the development team met with her to discuss the idea in March, but submitted its rezoning application without implementing any of her proposed changes.
“We had told the applicant not to submit, and they went ahead,” said Ms. Wong-Tam, who worries that the project’s proposed driveway could impede flow on Bloor Street’s manicured pedestrian walkway. “I can tell you that the planning staff, the urban design staff, no one is ready to approve this project. It’s got a long way to go.”
The lawyer representing the development team says he proceeded with the proposal without heeding Ms. Wong-Tam’s warning in order to avoid a hike in application fees scheduled for April 1.
“If the councillor says it’s not going to be approved as is, I think one might almost assume that from the beginning,” said lawyer Dennis Wood, who spoke to the National Post on behalf of Morguard, the property and asset management firm spearheading the development.
“We acknowledge when you place a building of this intensity into that location, there are going to be points where you’re going to show sensitivity and come up with creative solutions,” said Mr. Wood, who could not disclose how much the project is expected to cost.
Developers are looking to have the three-storey property rezoned to increase limits on height and density — a process expected to take over nine months to complete. City planning staff will seek input from community members and various city departments and make a recommendation to city council.
The project would maintain the Holt Renfrew location, while adding an eight-storey podium for commercial and office space as well as a tower with 600 residential units. Ms. Wong-Tam expects community members and local businesses will be quick to uphold Bloor Street’s strategic vision of being Toronto’s premier shopping and dining destination.
“This project will be very much scrutinized not just by the city, but by the public,” she said, adding that another concern would be the skyscraper’s potential to cast a shadow on the nearby Jesse Ketchum park.
The tower at One Bloor was originally planned for 81 storeys under Bazis International, but the property was later sold to Great Gulf Homes and the project reborn as a 70-storey tower.
The area has seen more than 30 developments in just over a decade and the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area (BIA) has been diligent to ensure new building projects adhere to the neighbourhood’s urban design principles and that the skyscraper-intensive Bloor strip does not cast shadows over the area’s parks.
Mr. Wood said Morguard has managed the existing property “for decades” and understands the community concerns when it comes to development in the area.
“[Morguard has] a very successful retail entity and they’re not going to screw with that,” said Mr. Wood. “Most developers don’t know diddly about retail … This is different than people who buy a piece of property, put in an application and say, ‘OK maybe this will work or maybe it won’t.’ “
If built as planned, the 50 Bloor condo would be the tallest in the country, but Mr. Wood says his clients were looking to capitalize on the intersection of the city’s two main subway lines, not to set a record.
“Where else would you want to locate intense residential? It’s the ideal location.”
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
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