Tag Archives: rise towers
Christopher Hume – Toronto Star
No matter how we long for change, Toronto is still a city that would rather just say no.
Consider the case of mid-rise development: In countless cities around the world, the streets are lined with four- to 10-storey buildings. They can be seen throughout Europe, where they virtually define the urban form.
Meanwhile, here in Toronto, we are only now beginning to figure out how to make mid-rise attractive to builders. Buyers, of course, love mid-rise. They are much less threatening to even the most diehard NIMBY than the high-rise towers that now form the skyline.
The problem is a tangle of regulations and planning rules that send builders running for cover behind the nearest skyscraper. Until recently, mid-rise hasn’t been worth the hassle. Jumping through regulatory hoops takes as long for a small apartment building as it does a 50-storey tower.
Then there are fire exit rules, parking standards and requirements and construction material rules. The consequences of these measures, unintended or not, is that Toronto has become a city of high-rise and low-rise, with little in between.
“Developers shy away from mid-rise,” planner Cal Brook explains, “because they have to go through zoning amendments that bring out the neighbours who oppose anything that’s higher than what’s already on the street. They’ll either do high-rise or low-rise.”
Brook, who helped prepare a recent study on mid-rise development in the city, also points out that the province has a role to play. The codes by which we live in Ontario are largely controlled by Queen’s Park. Toronto city hall merely makes a bad situation worse. Though city council adopted the report last year, it’s too early to tell how well they will work.
“The city has been positive about mid-rise,” admits Shane Fenton of Reserve Properties. “But it still takes as much time to do as high-rise.”
The report, which received an award from the Ontario Professional Planners Association this month, suggests developers should be allowed to build mid-rise as a right on Toronto’s designated “avenues.” Height would be equal to the width of the road on which they are located.
These avenues are identified in Toronto’s Official Plan as main streets where development should be concentrated in coming decades. But because the city’s zoning regulations are generally 30 years or more out of date, virtually all proposals must seek exemptions. That process takes time and money, but it also gives city councillors a larger say over the process.
“I think the resistance to rezoning — to having a uniform updating of zoning — is political,” Brook says. “Insisting that a property be rezoned is a way of having greater control over development.”
That would be fine if council’s motives were to ensure architectural and planning excellence in Toronto, but in reality it’s designed to give NIMBY neighbours the impression politicians are on their side.
That, combined with outdated restrictions against wood-frame construction and onerous fire and parking demands, has encouraged Toronto’s rush to the heights.
Civic flexibility, more important than ever to urban success, has been conspicuous in its absence. Other cities drool when they hear about the sheer amount of construction in Toronto; here we see it as a threat. But to understand the potential of mid-rise, take a walk along, say Danforth Ave., east of Broadview. Already mid-rise condos have brought stretches of King St. and Yonge south of St. Clair to life.
But as report co-author, Michael McClelland says, “Mid-rise fits in well with neighbourhoods, “but the big tower is where the money’s at — at least for now.”
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Lisa Rainford – InsideToronto.com
After years of uncertainty surrounding a block of houses on the north side of Bloor Street West between Pacific Avenue and Oakmount Road, nearby residents learned what’s in store for the boarded up homes at a meeting, Monday evening, June 14.
The Daniels Corporation recently finalized a deal with land owner WJ Properties and “as a courtesy,” said Neil Pattison, Daniels’ manager of development, “we thought we’d come here to tell you what we’re proposing.”
Taking into account the height of the surrounding buildings, said Pattison referring to the high rise towers in the vicinity that range from 11 to 30 storeys, Daniels is considering developing a mid-rise condominium complex at 14-storeys.
“The building is arranged in a U-shape to face Bloor Street West with frontage on Pacific Avenue and Oakmount Road,” said Pattison. “It would frame Bloor Street with retail use at street level.”
Its height and massing would not overwhelm the surrounding neighbourhood unlike the “slab” towers built in the 1960s and ’70s, according to Pattison.
“We know through public consultation that residents don’t want high rise towers in their neighbourhood,” he said, referencing proposed developments in the Kingsway and at Bloor Street West and Dundas Street West.
The condo complex would also be comprised of stacked townhouses with front doors on Pacific Avenue and Oakmount Road. Vehicular access, including pick-up and drop-off areas and underground parking, would be through a courtyard at the rear. There would be limited surface parking. Instead, Daniels is proposing two levels of underground parking. It would aim to meet the city’s standards, but Pattison pointed out that the proposed building would be close to both the High Park and Keele subway stations.
“The height steps down from 14 storeys to six on the southeast end with glazed components to make it lighter,” said Pattison. “We have an exciting opportunity for the TTC corridor lands. We’re now looking to create community garden lots. The gardening lots would be available to the wider community.”
This is a concept that Daniels has incorporated in some of its other projects, including the redevelopment of Regent Park, which it undertook in partnership with the city.
“It’s been a huge success,” said Pattison. “It will help the building connect physically and socially to the existing neighbourhood.”
There would be 8,000 to 9,000-square feet of retail space along Bloor Street, but it’s too early to know who the tenants could be. It could be comprised of two large businesses or 12 small ones, said Pattison.
A rental housing replacement program is in place to offset the loss of rental properties, Pattison assured. The tenant issue is resolved and the properties are all vacant, said Pattison referring to the recent eviction of a woman with severe chemical sensitivities, who garnered media attention last month. WJ Properties has been acquiring the lands over the past 40 years.
Daniels is about a month away from filing an application with the city. It will take into account the comments it received during Monday’s meeting, said Pattison.
The proposed condominium would meet Toronto’s Green Development standards and would incorporate a green roof and rain water harvesting. As for unit size and price, it’s too early to say, said Pattison.
While High Park Avenue resident Sean Hertel said he is “excited” about the potential development because he wouldn’t have to walk all the way to Bloor West Village for its retail shops and bakeries, he said he is concerned about the affordability of the condos. He said he is worried that developers are turning the area into a “boutique.”
“Please take that into consideration,” he told Pattison.
Another resident wanted to know if Daniels’ building would be in keeping with the character of Bloor Street West because it would be located across from High Park.
“At the end of the day, we want to sell this building,” said Pattison. “We’re not going to build an ugly building.”
Pattison assured that Daniels would not demolish the existing houses until “we’re ready to put shovels in the ground.”
“It would be about two years before we start,” he said of the process. “No demolition can take place until we get approval.”
Residents voiced their disdain for the existing homes they described as derelict, unsafe and unkempt to which Pattison said Daniels would work with the community to ensure the safety of residents and the preservation of the houses.
Not happy with the proposed height, community members asked why the developer couldn’t build a shorter condominium.
“Would a six-storey building be possible,” asked one.
Fourteen storeys is what the Daniels Corporation feels is “appropriate.”
Parkdale-High Park Councillor Bill Saundercook said he was surprised that Daniels came to the meeting armed with a proposal.
“They did a little more homework than I expected,” he said.
Asked for his opinion on the proposal, the councillor said “I don’t like the big wall effect it would have on Bloor Street.”
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Group provides framework to manage growth in St. Lawrence community
Excerpt of an article by W.D. Lighthall – Toronto Star
Facing a growing list of condo buildings planned within their community, members of the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Association decided to get a whole lot smarter about dealing with new development.
The residents’ association for the downtown Toronto neighbourhood teamed up with Eneract, which works to promote renewable energy and sustainability initiatives.
Together, the two organizations created something called smartliving St. Lawrence, a broad-based framework for managing new development in the community.
But more than that, smartliving St. Lawrence is also a means for delivering energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable initiatives to those already living and working in the neighbourhood.
“The decisions we make today â€” and this is right up front in smart living â€” should be based in large measure on the kind of world we want to leave our kids and grandchildren,” says Cameron Miller, president of the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Association.
Within those boundaries, at least nine mid-rise or highrise condo projects are selling or planned.
Already existing in the area are 36 condominium buildings, 12 housing co-ops and a half dozen socially assisted housing complexes.
Miller says more condo developments â€” many more, in fact â€” are expected to follow those currently underway.
Work on smartliving St. Lawrence began in spring 2004, when Miller says his association came to the realization that a more comprehensive approach was needed.
To do that, the neighbourhood association obtained funding to develop smartliving St. Lawrence, including a $113,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and an $80,000 grant from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
Economically, smartliving St. Lawrence (http://www.smartliving.ca/) means supporting local businesses and employers and developing job-growth strategies.Under the environmental component, smartliving will offer condo boards, building managers and area residents and businesses seminars on subjects such as retrofitting older buildings and reducing energy use.
“What we’re doing with the smartliving St. Lawrence program, we’re creating a template for other communities to adopt,” says Marans.Although the St. Lawrence Market design guidelines aren’t mandatory for developers planning condos in the area, they have been approved by city council and will be part of the discussion during the community consultation process.
Aspen Ridge Homes is planning to redevelop the old Goodwill site, which extends from George to Jarvis Sts. and from Adelaide to Richmond Sts.The VU plan includes about 500 condo units, in two highrise towers rising from a low-rise podium.
The Canada Green Building Council reports that, for mid-rise and highrise condo buildings, achieving basic-level LEED status adds 1 to 3% to construction costs. (Some in the building industry say that’s a conservative estimate.)In the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, Context has built the Mozo condominium, has the 45-storey Spire under construction, and is planning a third project in the area.
“The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood was a pioneer in urban regeneration. It makes sense that they would embrace forward thinking as far as new development in the community and in retrofitting” older buildings, says Poplak.
Su Cadogan, who has lived for the past 26 years in a housing co-op in St. Lawrence Market, says the neighbourhood needs smart living.
Many of the area’s older condo and co-op buildings are reaching an age where they require mechanical retrofits or other upgrades, notes Cadogan.
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