Soho Italia gets one councillor’s vote

The strategy behind Starwood Mastercraft’s approach to getting the city tallest tower put on the city’s smallest lot seems to be working. Recall that Starwood has not gone to the planning department with their proposal, but instead has been shopping it around to the Mayor and Councilors first. They are getting their sales pitch in well before the planning “experts” the city has on staff are even allowed to look at the proposal.

Councilor Hobbs: "stunning architecture"

This blog is “blocked” at City Hall, so employees cannot read it at work. So the if the planners at the planning dept want to know what is proposed in their city, they can get it at home from this blog or from some main stream print media (some of whom got their pictures … from me). But professionally, they are mute. Is this just what Starwood wanted?

Yesterday, CBC Morning had another story on the condo. I was bit surprised to hear myself as one of the interviewees, but then realized it was from a tape done a week ago. I was even more surprised to hear from Councilor Katherine Hobbs. Hers is the ward next door, where Mastercraft had a lot of resident opposition to doubling the height of the 125 Hickory project.

Hobbs, who sits on the planning committee that will be called upon to consider the rezoning application at 500 Preston, says of the Soho Italia : “WOW – it’s exciting”. It is a “stunning piece of architecture” in a “great location”. She goes on to describe it as a “timeless piece of architecture” that “will become a landmark”, a “source of pride”.

When the interviewer asks about how well it relates to the sidewalk and pedestrian experience, Hobbs avoids the question, but later returns with somewhat of an answer: it is a “good location for height and type of building it is”. You can hear her deliver the gold medal  to Starwood at (Look to the gray box on the lower right of the screen, and select the interview tape for Soho Italia/Preston).

Starwood must be thrilled that at least one councilor on the planning committee seems so enthusiastic for small-lot, very tall buildings. Claridge should be jumping up and down with joy, as they have a bunch of similar applications for 28 storey buildings in the works.

Indeed, given her enthusiasm, I would advise Starwood to reconsider its Hickory project. Go back and ask for another fifteen floors. And Rod Lahey, the architect for Starwood, is also the architect for the Our Lady of the Condos site on Richmond Road. Why put up four or five floor buildings when the Councilor is so enthused for tall ones? Just be sure to take “inspiration” from a famous building somewhere else, and it’s a slam dunk. Indeed, Hobbs already gushes over the Marilyn Munroe building in Mississauga. Surely  St.Marilyn would be a good replacement for the cloistered nuns of Kitichissippi.

St Marilyn of Monroe could put Kitchissippi on the map...

8 thoughts on “Soho Italia gets one councillor’s vote

  1. The ace interviewers on Ottawa morning never even bothered to ask how Councillor Hobbs would feel about this proposal in her own ward, too bad! I think a building of this scale (on a better podium) would work well at the Westboro Collection site (Scott and MacRae) or on the other side of the Transitway from there on the old CBC (now Health Canada) site, but what does our Councillor think?.

  2. “Timeless”? “Landmark”? “Source of pride”? This is essentially the Metropole with wavy balconies…and the last time I checked the tour buses don’t drive by that “landmark” in Westboro.

  3. I heard this building will cook your dinner, too…

    Hobbs’ gushing about Soho Italia was definitely not what residents in this city (and her ward) are used to, especially after Christine Leadman’s reign. I would definitely stop short of calling such a building ‘timeless’, more like a ‘departure’ or ‘different’. Though technically, anything can be a landmark if you want it to be. And, just to point out, a residential building doesn’t need to attract tour buses in order for a city to consider approving it. Their primary function is to house people, not honour war dead or civil rights.

  4. I was very surprised to hear our new councillor gush over this development. During the campaign, I thought she was in favour of any ideas that developers might put forth and it seems I was right, unfortunately. This is not the kind of careful and thoughtful decision making that we deserve. While I like some parts of this development, Hobb’s gush has turned me completely against it for a while.

  5. I am not sure what to make of councillor Hobbs. I noticed in her bio before the election that she was a member of Citizens for Safe Cycling and I was pleased. But then I found out she joined just before the election and I smelled an opportunist. I am sure the developers will be happy to know they have a new friend on council.

    “Banned at City Hall? I’d put that on your banner!”…I agree, and I find this very disturbing. What are they afraid of?

  6. Sorry, my mind wandered and I had a random thought about ‘stunning architecture’ – a developer should design and propose a tower similar in shape and scale of that 100 Foot Line lightning rod behind the National Gallery. It would be clad in stainless steel or chrome and would zigzag and corkscrew into the clouds over Preston Street. Now that would be a truly Canadian piece of cultural architecture!

    Definitely play up the city hall ban. Westsideaction = the new Wikileaks

  7. Derivitive! They could have just called the Chicago gang and asked to rent the blueprints for the Aqua building. Looking different from the neighbours is a cheap thrill but it doesn’t make it a ‘landmark’ or ‘timeless’. And I’m pretty sure it would be just as ‘stunning’ at half the height.

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