The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views.
Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant lots along Carling, all of which have the enviable position of marvelous south views over the Lake and Farm, a huge NCC park at the doorstep, and fine dining and pubbing along Preston. More recently, signals have been insifying from the Feds that some of the Natural Resources Canada lands along Booth and Rochester will up for disposal very soon (like, within a year; soil remediation has been done and we are in the “wait one year” cooling off period). Once approved, the Soho Italia project will have to get shovels in the ground quickly to sell the pieds a ciel before another condo developer announces.
[as an aside, I have several times mentioned to developers or their agents that they should be going after the Sir John Carling Building, which the Feds propose to raze to the ground, even though all the grassy area between it and Carling is already zoned for high rises. The obsolete office building should be gutted, reclad, and sold out as a condo]
The arguments for the Soho Italia project have always been of concern. They will look immensely credible to the OMB. And the proponent is stickhandling the deal through the political process rather than through the planning process, which is much less favorably inclined to the project. These arguments to permit a high rise apply equally well to all the adjacent lots — indeed, they apply to virtually the entire length of Preston.
Imperial Oil, I think, owns the lot at the NE corner of Preston and Carling. I recall it as one of the very well decorated gas stations at Christmas time, back in the day when businesses did such a thing. The site was decontaminated a little over a year ago, and approved for sale.
Now Claridge definitely positions itself as a leading condo developer, and is careful to line up a string of developable properties. It has a number of Centretown and West Side sites either approved for development or coming on stream. They own the ex-Chinese supermarket lot at Breezehill and Somerset, immediately north of Devonshire School. They have approved towers in the 28 storey range on Queen and Lyon (3); Nepean and Gloucester (2), and Lisgar just south of Place Bell (where the Big Square Hole is) (3 towers).
When Starwood Mastercraft applied for heights in the mid-thirties for Soho Italia, I heard through the grape vine that Claridge vowed to get every one of their 28 storey approvals revised to also be 35. This would add about 7 floors to each building. This would be quite profitable.
So now that Claridge has bought the lot at Carling and Preston, will they want to add 7 stories to the Soho total and go for 42? Why not, the sky’s the limit.
Shown below is the SimPreston photoshop done up by my graphic artist (aka dependent child), which replaced Dow Motors and CIBC with tall condos; and also the vacant Esso station lot on the right (east) of Preston, now owned by Claridge. We don’t know what will be proposed yet, but we will know