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Rail Deck Park (?, ?, ?)

TJ O'Pootertoot

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Looks like they're moving forward though the costs of expropriating the air rights remains fuzzy, at best.
(Of course, the explicit talk of expropriation is a de facto confirmation that the City doesn't have the rights and Craft seems to...)

We should start a pool/poll on this thread to guess where the final per-acre costs land once they pay "fair market value."

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innsertnamehere

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CRAFTs entire point of their development application is to try to make the fair market value look artificially inflated. They have 0 plans to actually build it, they are simply trying to make the lands look like super prime development lands so they get a crazy high valuation for expropriation. This is the exact process I predicted from day 1.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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Seems like a Catch-22... the City isn't arguing they aren't prime lands, just that a park is more important to put there than more buildings. You don't have to do very much, as a developer, to say, "This huge chunk of land in downtown Toronto is super-valuable!" It'll be up to someone else to determine whether that means it's worth $10M/acre or $100M/acre or something in between.

I don't really believe they literally have no intention of building a development if they can but I'm not sure it makes a difference, except to the extent it shows how cynical one is. Is it any less cynical an assumption that the city came up with this pipe dream they knew the public would salivate over even while they knew perfectly well they had neither the legal authority to build on the land, nor the funding earmarked to make it a reality? That they counted on the public being so impressed by the beautiful renderings and the legit, well-earned support for such a "cool" project that it would obscure the legal and financial hurdles to its actual realization?

Maybe both parties are "bad guys," but maybe neither are.

At the end of the day, doesn't really seem different to me from any other situation where someone buys land because they think it will be valuable one day, whether it's as a development or because a government will need to expropriate it from them. If they own the land, they own the land (or, really, AIR in this case...). Being that we live in, you know, a capitalist society, the government can't just throw up a park because it's a great idea; they have to get this land and they don't have it. I'm not going to fault CRAFT for trying to maximize the value of land/air they (apparently) legally own.
 
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BurlOak

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I thought John Tory's plan for the Ex/Ontario Place was for some development that pays to upgrade the rest of the park.
The solution here is not to build a park. Build some development that requires a percentage of green space.
Maybe use the spoils of the Ontario Line excavation to build another offshore downtown island/peninsula and have that as your additional parkland.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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At the risk of answering my own question about cynicism, the rational approach you suggest has been deemed an affront to the people of Toronto; the needle hasn't even budged as the question, "Does CRAFT even actually own the air rights?" has become a pretty clear, "Um yes."

Just look at those renderings! Who cares the City doesn't own the land or air rights?! Who cares that half the City's Transpo budget is going to the Gardiner rebuild and that the TTC has a multi-billion-dollar repair backlog and that no one knows what the province is doing to change how Section 37 and parkland dedication work. The important thing here is to agree that this HAS to happen!

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AlvinofDiaspar

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At the risk of answering my own question about cynicism, the rational approach you suggest has been deemed an affront to the people of Toronto; the needle hasn't even budged as the question, "Does CRAFT even actually own the air rights?" has become a pretty clear, "Um yes."

Just look at those renderings! Who cares the City doesn't own the land or air rights?! Who cares that half the City's Transpo budget is going to the Gardiner rebuild and that the TTC has a multi-billion-dollar repair backlog and that no one knows what the province is doing to change how Section 37 and parkland dedication work. The important thing here is to agree that this HAS to happen!

View attachment 226991

Why not, city building and planning doesn't stop just because you don't have all the variables patted down. It doesn't have to happen right now, but plan for it, and do what's necessary to protect that possibility especially considering the amount of projected population growth in the core. Nothing untoward or irrational there.

Now if you want to talk about irrationality, it is cramming development where there is no existing infrastructure to support and rely on hopes and prayers that a single subway line will be able to handle, to the exclusion of existing users. Now that's irrational - and dare I say irresponsible. Who cares if Toronto doesn't have the capacity, nor the cash to improve capacity, it's what my OP said has to happen.

AoD
 
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Northern Light

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as the question, "Does CRAFT even actually own the air rights?" has become a pretty clear, "Um yes."

I'm not entirely clear that that is accurate; I'm not meaning to be pedantic, but I believe what's accepted is that they purchased 'air rights.'

What's not clear is whether the seller had anything to sell; and whether those rights are worth anything at all.

Clearly to build anything over the corridor will require structural supports through the corridor, or, in theory, on adjacent lands.

They don't own the corridor or the adjacent lands and have no legal agreements in place giving them access to build supports.

Nor do they have any zoning in place, nor do I perceive any statutory basis on which they could reasonably expect a zoning change of this type.

Hence the chasm between the City's best offer to date, and said 'rights owner'.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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I'm not entirely clear that that is accurate; I'm not meaning to be pedantic, but I believe what's accepted is that they purchased 'air rights.'

What's not clear is whether the seller had anything to sell; and whether those rights are worth anything at all.

Clearly to build anything over the corridor will require structural supports through the corridor, or, in theory, on adjacent lands.

They don't own the corridor or the adjacent lands and have no legal agreements in place giving them access to build supports.

Nor do they have any zoning in place, nor do I perceive any statutory basis on which they could reasonably expect a zoning change of this type.

Hence the chasm between the City's best offer to date, and said 'rights owner'.

I suppose there is something of a grey area and it may yet be a legal one as much as anything else. But it seems to me the clear implication (from both sides) is that Craft thinks they purchased the rights and the City has been trying to give them some money so they can avoid expropriation. And they have not succeeded. What's clear, as you point out (I think), is that neither party really has the means to do this project because of what's around it and the larger context.

I would differ on the zoning/planning issues since the developers could argue it's a perfect place to intensify etc., so long as they're providing the right mix of uses, green space etc. It's not clear at all there is "no statutory basis," given all the policies about intensifying around transit corridors and so forth. There's arguments to be made either way. As it stands, the City had to file it's own Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment to get permission for the park so what is reasonable can be subjective and can change.

Why not, city building and planning doesn't stop just because you don't have all the variables patted down. It doesn't have to happen right now, but plan for it, and do what's necessary to protect that possibility especially considering the amount of projected population growth in the core. Nothing untoward or irrational there.

When you're talking about a billion dollar project unlike anything else in the city and a dispute over land ownership, you're talking about more than a few little variables to be worked out. These are fundamental issues the City has largely glossed over because it's easy to sell "more parks!" to people.

As to whether that area can handle more people, Craft would have to make that case and maybe it's a case they can't make. On the other hand, the City and Metrolinx have been talking about "Union Station West," so it's hard to do that on the one hand and say, "No more people!" on the other. Lord knows, lack of infrastructure capacity hasn't stopped us before. it's almost the defining feature of the GTA, one might argue.

To be clear, I'm not AGAINST Raildeck Park - it's a lovely idea, on principle - I just think the City has been writing cheques it can't cash so far, and spinning it so people don't really notice. You can't just look at a map of Toronto and say, "There's not enough parks near Yonge and Eglinton so we're building a new Central Park on 500 acres between Yonge and Mt. Pleasant, south of Lawrence Avenue." Yeah - lovely idea. I'm sure the renderings would blow my mind. But how you're going to pay for it and how you're going to acquire the land from private landowners aren't "variables to be patted down." They're things to figure out before you start holding press conferences.
 
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innsertnamehere

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I'm not entirely clear that that is accurate; I'm not meaning to be pedantic, but I believe what's accepted is that they purchased 'air rights.'

What's not clear is whether the seller had anything to sell; and whether those rights are worth anything at all.

Clearly to build anything over the corridor will require structural supports through the corridor, or, in theory, on adjacent lands.

They don't own the corridor or the adjacent lands and have no legal agreements in place giving them access to build supports.

Nor do they have any zoning in place, nor do I perceive any statutory basis on which they could reasonably expect a zoning change of this type.

Hence the chasm between the City's best offer to date, and said 'rights owner'.
You hit the nail on the head. I don't believe the air rights even have access to a public road without crossing city property, nor do they even own all of the air rights.

CRAFT is a small development company that does strip plazas in Keswick. They aren't planning on a building a Well 2.0 on steroids, I can promise you.
 

TossYourJacket

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Lets not forget that the CRAFT project is kinda terrible. It's a parking garage with a park and some condos on top. It doesn't meet Front St at ground level, and would basically become a park only used by those living in the condos. Also, if anywhere did not necessitate a giant parking garage it's this location, yet they planned one anyway.
 

ADRM

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You can't just look at a map of Toronto and say, "There's not enough parks near Yonge and Eglinton so we're building a new Central Park on 500 acres between Yonge and Mt. Pleasant, south of Lawrence Avenue."

This is a fairly daft mischaracterization of the City’s position here.
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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This is a fairly daft mischaracterization of the City’s position here.

Not to the extent that the point is they want to build a park I think most of us agree is a good idea, but they neither own the land upon which they want to put it and nor do they have a solid estimate of what it will cost.
The example is obviously a bit of hyperbole - Rail Deck Park isn't destroying an established neighbourhood - but the larger point about expropriation remains.
 
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ADRM

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but they neither own the land upon which they want to put it and nor do they have a solid estimate of what it will cost.

But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.

What I am curious about is whether or not the ORCA proposal predated the internal city discussion for the park.

AoD
 

TJ O'Pootertoot

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But neither of these things is unusual; expropriation isn't a foreign concept to either the City or the Province, and the cost is up in the air mostly because a private entity is playing silly buggers in an aggressive attempt to extract value from that uncertainty.

And what makes you think THAT aspect is a foreign concept?
You say "aggressive attempt to extract value," and I say that if they are the legal landowners, they have every right to do so. If they're not... less so.

What I am curious about is whether or not the ORCA proposal predated the internal city discussion for the park.

I hope/assume it's somewhere back on this thread but my recollection is that there was an article in which the landowners said they'd been working on the application for a while and the City knew that. One day they got a call telling them they should show up to some announcement the Mayor was making. They showed up and he announced the plans for the park, totally surprising them. We can take that with grains of salt if we like. There's a lot of contradictions and such floating about BUT in general, I feel (as I've said before) the "happy feelings" the park is generating is letting some people (as above) rather gloss over the concept of property rights. No, we're not the United States and yes, expropriations happen but I'm still amazed how little regard some people seem to have for the notion that just MAYBE Craft/ORCA legally own the land and just MAYBE they have some rights here, notwithstanding what a great idea Raildeck Park may be.

EDIT: Not sure if this is the exact article I remember but it's the same idea:
-They claim they've been working on it since 2012
-They say they told Cressy about it long before Raildeck Park was announced (something he confirms here)


Does this prove anything about INTERNAL city discussions? No - but it doesn't make them look forthright, at best.
Does any of this change the opinion of anyone here about whether they were tabling a "serious" development proposal or whether the City has been totally on the up-and-up here? Doubt it.
But the answer to your question is, "Yes." There is no evidence the park plan predates the development plan.
 
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