Condo development plans across from High Park
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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