High rises: Gladstone southwards

Yesterday’s post covered high rise intensification — on an east-west axis — along the north edge — the Carling Avenue line — of our  community. Today’s post covers a north-south line drawn roughly along the OTrain cut from Gladstone to Carling. It is not clear if the drawing (second pic, below) puts the line along the OTrain cut or Preston Street itself. This post is somewhat speculative. Here is the area in Google Maps:

Recall that there is a proposed LRT station on the OTrain corridor near Gladstone. Generally, the station is drawn running from Gladstone to the Queensway, with its north exit at Gladstone and its south exit around Young-George Street (which is why Preston has those underused traffic signals at George). Recall too that the City has apparently decided it will not build the Gladstone station at the same time as the OTrain service is upgraded in 2014, even though that will require trains to slow — but not quite stop — at this area.

The drawing below is labelled “7- Urban Morphology“. On the right is the north end of our neighborhood transept, anchored by the Gladstone Station. Shown on Gladstone are some high rises, perhaps these are on the Enriched Bread site or the BA Banknote site, which will become available for development shortly. Or maybe they are on the city’s own signals works yard site, or the back of the St Anthony club on city-owned land.

Maybe we could extort some funds out of the developers under Sec 37 to install the Gladstone OTrain station now or when the residents move in, rather than 20 years out. Better to train them to use transit from day one.

The Queensway is shown as a low point in the profile, and then there are some high rises south of the Queensway. I presume that these are on the block-sized site owned by the Young Street garage, between Preston and the OTrain cut, as the lots on the west side of the cut, along Young and Railway Streets, are already wrapped up in the throes of low-rise intensification.

Very faintly drawn on the diagram are the 600 m radii from the stations, intended to show convenient walking distances to transit and the city’s zones of intensification. Given that there isn’t any vacant land on either side of the OTrain cut in this area south of George, I am puzzled at the set of three graduated high rises shown south of George. Maybe it’s just a signal to developers to start buying up houses in this residential strip in preparation for redevelopment (one developer is already busy here).

Curiously, the profile shows “existing fabric” where the two 600m zones overlap. Surely this is the most prime location for intensification? And yet the authors of the drawing (whom we don’t know, but have suspects) show this area left as about a 33′ height limit. The zoning also permits converting these houses into businesses … so we might see low value conversions and land assembly rather than larger redevelopment. I suspect this designation will be inviting to challenge at the OMB.

The profile rises back up again as it gets within 400m of Carling Avenue and the OTrain station there.  This station currently has only one exit; city policy requires two. Will the second be south or north of the current stair? The buildings between “existing fabric” and the Carling transit station would scale at about 10+ stories.

The suggested heights at Carling station are higher than those suggested at Gladstone, but no height in meters or stories is indicated on this drawing. Recall that in yesterday’s post, the Carling profile suggests 40+ stories here. If this drawing is to scale, that puts 20 storey buildings on the Young St Garage site, and maybe 10 stories at the Norman Street land-assembly of Urban Capital group, but I’ve heard that had not flown by City planners who demanded something lower.

Very curiously, the drawing stops at Carling Avenue. The area south of Carling is shown undeveloped. Yet for decades, the grassy area south of Carling, right up to the Sir John Carling Building, has been designated as a mixed-use development area. This always surprises people who think a field of NCC lawn is destined (doomed?) to remain vacant land forever. In the last versions of the Bayview-Carling CDP, the mixed use development area was being shifted a bit from being only west of the OTrain to include both the lawn west of the OTrain and parts of the NCC parking lot for the Dow’s Lake restaurants on the east side of the OTrain cut. This would make a more continuous series of buildings along both sides of Carling from Preston to Sherwood. I haven’t yet heard a suggestion as to how tall they might be, but I was the NCC I would realize that the land is worth more if developed to the 40+ storey height of the north side of Carling.

In the future, we won’t want for a lack of high rise condos in the west side.

3 thoughts on “High rises: Gladstone southwards

  1. Great set of posts!
    Do you or your readers have any sense of the economic driver behind all this development? The global economy appears to be stagnant or contracting and locally we see contraction in both the IT sector and in government which are the two major employers. So where is the demand coming from?

  2. it’s a bubble. What is driving condo sales is the belief that prices will always rise, and the buyers can sell out at an enormous profit in a few years.

  3. Some of the demand may be speculative, whereby buyers intend to resell the units asap for a capital gain. This may increase prices in the short term, but the reason the industry likes these investors is that a high percentage of the building units must be pre-sold in order to get the money to build the building since high rises are rarely built in “phases”, instead one builds all of a tower at once. That’s another reason builders like tall thin towers.
    Individual condo buyers are really in a conundrum if there weren’t speculators/investors, because who wants to commit to a building to be finished 3 years out and then find the start date endlessly pushed back because not enough units sell and yet you cannot get your deposit back. Sort of a version of the tragedy of the commons, ie builders and buyers need a critical mass. Builders heavily discount the initial suite sales to investors to help them get a quick price lift and profit. It’s easy to see evil in this scheme, and/or closer inspection reveals a complex ecology of actors in a marketplace.
    The demand comes from several factors: background growth of the city itself, ie young people starting out households and no longer living at their parents’; the downsizing market of people tired of maintaining older wood homes; the widows and singletons that “lose” their prior partner that did the house maintenance; and the huge rise in small households entering a city wherein a lot of the housing stock is family-oriented 3-bedroom homes. And certainly in the inner urban areas where condo development is most active is the neighborhoods that most small households also want to live in, and condos are affordable compared to new construction “family” homes which now go in the high 600,00 to 1 million plus range in dalhousie, hintonburg, westboro, etc.

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