Big Hole Summary

It was lively.  And there was a range of opinions – to say the least – which is going to make writing this particular entry a bit tricky but I’m going to put on my old reporter’s hat and try to represent it best I can.

The first thing to know is that this was not part of the formal consultation process. I understand that there are two tentative dates for future meetings.  The first is Feb. 17th for the immediate neighbours including the developer, Councillor Bussin and a representative from the City.  The second (once again tentative) date is March 3rd for a formal public consultation meeting with the same folks.  Watch your physical mailbox if you are an immediate neighbour or this space for information about those meetings.

Thank you to Councillors Bussin and Davis for coming out, the fifty or so people who braved the snowy night and to Kimbourne Park United Church for hosting.

The current status of the project, according to Councillor Bussin, is that the City’s planning department is encouraged by the sophisticated design of the building that takes into consideration Toronto’s Official Plan for increasing density along main thoroughfares and transit lines, is stepped down on the Danforth as it backs into the residential part of the property and a developer who seems willing to accommodate local requests for things like types of fencing and green space.  The only way to lower the tower would be to extend the building further back into the more residential part of the property, says Bussin, because if you lose too many units in the building it quickly becomes not worth the cost of developing it.  (The current application is for 141 condo units, 107 one bedroom and 34 two bedroom.)

Some of the immediate neighbours said they disliked the idea of twelve stories primarily because it wouldn’t fit in with other buildings on the street, and they definitely would not want the building to come back any further into the neighbourhood. In addition, there was a lot of discussion about what the impact would be on parking around the building as parking can already be a challenge on the side streets.  Parking for condos is worked out by a formula and in this case the building proposes 120 parking spaces, including 14 visitor spaces.  There was also some discussion about how much shadow the building would cast.  (A shadow study is being done, apparently.)

On the other hand, there was plenty of support for the building and the height.  Many thought the building was aesthetically pleasing, close to transit, adding density that is much-needed to support our struggling commercial strip and a good option for single people and seniors who may want to stay in the neighbourhood but have few options.  One person even suggested that the view from many of the units is going to be spectacular and that this building could be a real catalyst for the kind of Danforth that we are all hoping for.

Putting aside the issue of height and looking at the first ten feet of the building there were a number of interesting suggestions including:

  • building the main floor retail with tall, fourteen foot ceilings and big windows so they would appeal to a higher-end tenant
  • parking for customers of the main floor retail
  • a green, eco-friendly building that meets the City’s Green Standards with plenty of native trees and vegetation at the front, back and top of the building, bike friendly and possibly a bioswale.
  • a well-designed, well-maintained building that is welcoming and adds beauty to the street.

We also talked a little bit about Section 37 community benefit funding, which developers sometimes provide for projects that will benefit the community, essentially in exchange for increasing the zoning density.

Read here for more comments from others who attended.

0 comments to “Big Hole Summary”
  1. Areas like Leslieville, the Beach, prime Riverdale and Bloor West Village didn’t become as trendy, attractive and desirable as they are today by developers slapping up a series of 10- and 12-storey buildings. As I mentioned below, no one in those neighbourhoods would accept a development like this. So why should we? I really don’t see this contributing to the gentrification of Danforth East. This property represents a wonderful opportunity for creative development that could put Danforth East on the map. With this proposal, we’re on the verge of another lost opportunity.

  2. Thanks for the update on this.

    I am looking forward to this development. The subway line is the *perfect* place for densification to occur. Anyone who lives near the subway and wants things to stay the same has their head stuck in the sand, so to speak. Toronto is growing, and concentrating growth near subways makes perfect sense.

    The parking issue is crazy. There will be underground parking for the building, so it’s not likely to impact street parking at all. For those of us who live in the neighbourhood… why would we be parking there? It’s a quick walk or bikeride from our homes to anywhere on the Danforth. Danforth East will become more desirable to more we plan for people (and lots of them!) instead of for cars.

    Cars don’t patronize local businesses. People do. All cars do is suck money out of our wallets… money that *could* be going into our local economy.

  3. John,

    No one is denying the success of those neighborhoods vis a vis tall buildings, but the fact remains that density adds foot traffic. This bulding is no different than the ones on Adelaide West or King West that have added density to the Queen W and King W neighborhoods and aided in their gentrification and vibrancy. Your argument is NIMBYism, pure and simple. The low density and high car ownership in our hood added to the Danforth’s demise decades ago. The fact remains that our Danforth strip is still grossly under patronized by pedestrians and the only thing that will change it is to bring well deisgned, higher density live/work units to the neighborhood.

  4. To the first commenter, it’s simply not true that the three areas you mention didn’t become trendy or desirable because of developments like this. Modern condo developments exist in the Leslieville, Bloor West Village and Riverdale. None of those areas is plagued with “a series of 10- and 12-storey buildings”, but there are a couple. Similarly, nobody is proposing a series of such buildings in the Danforth East area; this is just one.

    While the modern condo complexes in those other neighbourhoods aren’t necessarily on the main streets, their architectural reality is different. Queen, Bloor and Danforth in those areas feature retail buildings in high density and good physical condition, which people have turned into successful businesses. We, on the other hand, have a big hole, which is plaguing the pedestrian-friendliness of the street, and which needs to be filled with something that will bring new people to the area.

    The longer people debate and object to this development, the longer it will be before our hole is turned into something good for the ‘hood.

  5. Hey there, I just came across your blog from a link on Twitter. My fiance and I live just off of Danforth on Glebemount Ave. I’m looking forward to seeing where this proposal goes. Our little corner of Danforth is parched of the rich community and culture many other parts of Toronto are so well known for. If we want fill the derelict shop fronts and push the scuzzy bars out of the area we need to build up a higher population density (of the ‘higher-end tenant’ types) to supplement the new businesses. This new building is a great start and could also set an example for any future remodels or builds in the area by following the City’s Green Standards.

    Thanks for the info, I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  6. I am very excited about this property being developed! Won’t it be wonderful to be rid of this eyesore and to bring new residents to the area who can have easy access to public transportation ?

    Yes…but not if it means having a 12 story tower.

    I cannot accept the notion that the property MUST be deveoped to a density of 3.49 (just slightly over the 3.0 that follows city guidlines) to be profitable. There is no proof of this – only speculation.

    I don’t need to speculate to find other recent developments that are more in line with our neighbourhood’s character.

    For example: 1) the town houses next to MacDonald’s east of Coxwell, which are handsome – and lowrise. It should be noted that this development extends far south of Danforth. 2) “Megas” restaurant. This building is in the heart of the Broadview/Pape stretch of The Danforth – more expensive real estate than the property being discussed here! It is a 3 story building that was built from scratch when the old property collapsed several years ago. 3) The “Carrot Common”. This is a beautiful lowrise development with handsome buildings & apartments, spacious decks and a open concourse.

    Surely these developers were not involved to be charitable?! Did these ventures lose money? A profit was made, or they would not have develped the properties.

    The argument that this development must have a 12 story tower, or be built with 4 or 5 stories right up against the neighbours to the rear, is therefore without merit.
    There might be LESS profit without a 12 tower, but there is still profit to be made with a lowrise development that fits the character and scale of the current neighbourhood.

  7. Keith, just on a point of interest, the developers/owners of the Carrot Common actually are in it for charity, with 50% of the mall’s profits going towards local organizations that benefit the community.

    And while the Carrot Common does make a modest profit, it is the result of a rather unique partnership that won’t likely be duplicated at Woodbine and Danforth.

  8. Mike, I stand corrected. It gives me a greater repect for the partners of the Carrot Common. I sought only to refute the idea that a 12 story tower is neccessary to make the develpment of this property viable.

    I share the values of our official plan. 5 stories is a civilized, aesthetically pleasing height that can fulfill the goal of revitalizing neighbourhoods while utilizing existing infrastructure.

    I have a great faith in my stretch of the Danforth. The process of renewal, of bringing new businesses and new residents to the area has already begun. We don’t have to settle for good – we can hold out for great!

  9. Keith,

    I agree with your viewpoint. I just can’t believe that this property, located right on the subway line and with ready access to the lake, could not turn a profit as a lower-rise, high-quality building.

    I don’t believe I’m romanticizing the Danforth by wanting to keep development to 5 storeys – perhaps 6 at the intersections and I also don’t see it as NIMBYism as some have suggested.

    Rather, it’s a different vision. One that simply values smaller scale, more human scale physical environments.

    It’s hard to legislate charm, for sure, but I believe that the Danforth could benefit by being considered a distinctive Toronto district – one defined by 5-6 storey developments with strong, commercially focused streetfronts, properly planted and irrigated trees and a walking culture that would take full advantage of its extra wide width and generous sidewalks.

    Much of the Danforth may seem tawdry and messy right now, but so were other city districts – like the Byward Market in Ottawa, the Marais in Paris – before they were revitalized while capitalizing on their existing scale and architecture.

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