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No stones thrown over Bloor-Bathurst condo talks

May 26th, 2011 · 3 Comments

By Perry King

Unlike many development disputes across the city, talks between developers and residents have been so healthy for a proposed Bloor-Bathurst condo that the project has already been scaled down considerably.

“We had a couple of meetings—the councillor, some of his office staff and HVRA (Harbord Village Residents’ Association) board members—and basically I said ‘We weren’t committing anybody to anything, and we couldn’t speak for either the board or for the community, because we had no authority to speak,” said Sue Dexter, who was in on the initial meeting between the HVRA and H&R Developments.

In 2008, H&R purchased 783 Bathurst St., and came forward with a proposal for a 15-storey condominium at the site.

For Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), “[15 storeys] was one of the options we looked at. We looked at what would happen if you massed all the density to the north end of the site, what would happen if you moved it to Bathurst Street. We played with massing models to try and create as strong a proposal as possible,” he said.

The informal talks have created a working group consisting of developers, Vaughan’s office, and local residents. The developers “came into it with a really open mind,” said Vaughan. “I think they’ve done some amazing stuff around the laneways. They are animating Bathurst Street, and the architecture through this process got better and better.”

783 Bathurst, formerly Loretto College’s south campus, has been sparsely used since the school combined its two campuses—the other campus was located at Brunswick and Barton—and moved to the Dufferin and St. Clair neighbourhood in 2006.

The building was most recently used as Trinity Spadina’s federal election returning office.

“I think the school turned its back to Bathurst Street. I think [the area] will have a little bit of personality and a bit of activity at street level, and I think that‘s a good thing for everybody. Hopefully, out of all of this, we end up with a bit of a renaissance on Bathurst Street when we start returning some of the services that are needed in the neighbourhood,” said Vaughan.

The project finally moved forward in March with Official Plan rezoning and site plan approval applications for a nine-storey, 196-unit proposal.

Regardless of the progress made, the public consultation, to be set in the near future, will bring more concerns from local residents and businesses. “I think that living with construction morning, noon, and night is going to be really disappointing, and I think it will draw a lot of business away from the Annex because [the area is a] small little community to itself,” said Sheena Wallace, a local resident who works at the condo-neighbouring Trove apparel store. “If you start bringing all that in, you’re starting to change the whole dynamic, and I already pay high enough rent.”

Wallace says she understands the neighbourhood is not immune to development, but  is concerned about how the changes will influence architecture for the worse. She has already considered moving from the neighbourhood once her current lease expires. “It seems that everywhere I’ve moved, I have construction following. This [condo proposal] is pretty disappointing, actually.”

The project’s influence on businesses could mean growth, but Cito Ramos, who manages the nearby Midas auto shop, foresees the woes that come with higher density. “People are occupying a nine-storey condo, so that’s going to increase traffic flow in the area. So be it. The city and the school board want to take advantage of the property and flip it for something and make some pay out of it. I can understand that, I see an impact,” he said.

Ramos was managing the shop when the TTC replaced the streetcar tracks on Bathurst several years ago, and it was “murder” for the business. “Sometimes, people, rather than wanting to come down here because the parking might be a bitch—maybe they’ll go somewhere convenient for them.” But, Ramos is confident the shop can adjust to traffic congestion.

Demolition for the old school is expected to occur later this year.

Pre-mapping developments key to “progressive change”

By Perry King

“There’s been a progressive change in the way development applications are being handled in the ward, and basically what happens is a lot of things were arriving at a public meeting,” said Sue Dexter. “[Before] the neighbours had no way of putting any input ahead of that, and these cases ultimately wound up at the OMB, which would not turn out well.”

It’s a culture that Councillor Vaughan says he has been looking to change since he took office in 2006. His office has mapped all possible development sites in Ward 20. “We found a way in the ward, not just in the north end, but in the south end, to highlight areas that we expect growth to happen in.”

New projects are being measured against expectations based on the mapping.

According to Vaughan, the approach has fostered cooperation, and all sides are better able to push staff to get approvals quicker. It is a tactic that works, compared to “a divide and conquer tactic—which has defined other wards”. He says he plans on working with colleges and universities in this same exercise soon.


Tags: News

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shawn // May 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I live in the area where the condos are going to go up and believe that this is not something I would like to have go up at all.

    I believe that the condo in this article would be wrong to go up where they want this. A 9 story condo is not right for the area with all the other businesses around and the height of this building. Some of the businesses and residences are concerned about the condo that is going up and we should not just let them come in and take over the area.

    We need to for sure think about more dense areas but not when the condo is going to make the area look bad. I would want to if possible help more that area into a year round Farmer’s Market that can be used by everyone who comes in the area. If this is a community centre and hub, we could really make the area beautiful and accessible to all the people who pass by the area.

    I am getting a group together to try and see what we can do to stop the development of the condo. If you want to get together and organize around this please email me shawn[.]khan[@]gmail[.]com

  • 2 Patrick Walshe // Jun 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    We live directly behind the proposed site. At no time have we been approached or notified of any meetings relating to this project. In fact, Vaughan’s office won’t return phone calls to discuss. Wonder how many people on Lippincott know about the development or the planned “discussion” on June 28.

  • 3 concerned resident // Sep 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Letting this 9 story building go up will set a dangerous precedent. Next, when David Mirvish’s mother isn’t circling the drain anymore, and David decides to build his proposed 60 story condo/casino tower, good bye Neighborhood.
    Fight these greasy developers from the burbs.