I went to Planning and Environment Committee (“PEC”) at city hall this morning. Two items were up for discussion that interested me … 125 Hickory Street, and Our Lady of the Condos on Richmond Road.
125 Hickory is at the corner of Hickory and Champagne, just north of the parking lot along Carling near the Otrain station. A few years ago, a developer tried to build the Acquerello, an eleven floor ~200 unit condo building. After being rezoned for the 11 floors, it didn’t get built, and eventually passed into the hands of Starwood Mastercraft.
They proposed a 24 and 20 storey condo tower on a podium of townhouses. Their argument to the community was that the current zoning allowed them to build 300 units a squat 11 storey block-like building that filled up the whole site, but they could alternatively built the tall, slender, elegant, glass (add more adjectives here…) beauty that everyone would love. After a lot of to and fro, it came up to PEC this morning, reborn as a 20 and 16 storey towers on a three storey podium.
Since their first proposal came up, the site across the street at 100 Champagne got rezoned to permit Domicle to build a 12 storey 100 unit condo with a podium of six townhouses. And Arnon got OMB permission to develop the parking lot along Carling into a fifteen and a fourteen storey office buildings OR a 19 floor condo (the 19 residential floors fit into the same height as the 15 floors of office space, now they have to decide which floorspace makes them the most dollars).
At PEC, I appeared on behalf the Dalhousie Community Assoc. to focus on one issue, a ped-cyclist bridge over the Otrain cut at Hickory. This short little bridge would make a huge difference to the neighborhood, giving many more people easy walking access to the mainstreet of Preston and to employment centres and the Otrain/future LRT station.
The developer Starwood offered money to the city to help build the bridge. My concern was WHEN. I am pessimistic that while the city said the funding would “help precipitate a bridge”, I wanted to know when that precipitation might fall. Because if the city decides to wait until the OTrain is converted to double-track LRT, that might not be in my lifetime. I asked that the rezoning be tied to the money for the bridge, and that the occupancy permit for the condos be tied to the completion of the bridge. No bridgy, no condos.
PEC didn’t quite go all the way. They opted for the heavy showers version of precipitation: based on their lawyer’s advice, the rezoning (which PEC passed) is tied to the money for the bridge. There might be a drought though, in which case the city keeps the money in its kitty and we have to hope it provides the bridge later.
Apparently Domicile also is willing to toss an umbrella’s worth of money into the puddle. And the Committee directed staff to make sure they pass the hat to the developers of the Humane Society located immediately north of the site, as it should be up for development soon.
By the way, I hear this site has already been sold or optioned, and we can expect to hear plans for a 3 storey podium with twin condo towers on top. I wonder if they will make a 20-16-16-20 set with the 125 Hickory ones, or if they will be 20-16-14-11 in which case the neighborhood will finally get their 11 storey condo.
It never rains but it pours.
Lastly, Our Lady of the Condos. This is the proposal to build condos around the heritage convent building on Richmond Road. I could not help but notice that speaker after speaker opposed the proposed 125 Hickory buildings as too big/tall, but were sorta OK with the 11 storey towers. All of which are adjacent to modest priced duplexes and singles nearby.
But at Richmond Road, the thought of a nine storey condo and some 4 or 5 storey condos were “too high, too dense, too intense”. Was it just a coincidence that these towers were located close to very expensive homes along Island Park and Leighton Terrace? Surely our vision of appropriate height is consistent for each neighborhood regardless of the income of the households?
Would I like them in my backyard? Well, yeah, I kinda like the Richmond Road proposal. And my home (in neither of the above locations) is directly adjacent commercial lands slated for intensification and redevelopment and I am in the shaddow zone of a 20 storey tower for which planning permission has already been granted. And a thirteen storey one visible out my back windows will be coming forward someday.