Looks like a decent infill project, replacing the former gas station. Also important because it completes one of the pieces of urban inconsistencies along that area and creates a gateway into the Beaches retail strip.
Beach community prepares for battle at Ontario Municipal Board
Association hopes to change proposed condo development at Queen Street East and Woodbine Avenue
The Greater Beaches Neighbourhood Association (GNBA), along with the former Friends of Queen Street, are getting ready to fight a proposed condo development at the corner of Queen Street East and Woodbine Avenue.
By Hilary Caton
The Greater Beaches Neighbourhood Association (GNBA), along with the former Friends of Queen Street, are ready to take on condo developer EMC Six Limited in a battle reminiscent of David and Goliath. The arena for this particular fight is an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing set to take place Monday, Oct. 7.
In order to prepare, concerned community members gathered at Kew Beach Public School Tuesday evening, Sept. 17, to discuss and see the proposed changes put forth by the community members from previous meetings that would be applied to the condo located on the northeast corner of Queen Street East and Woodbine Avenue.
“The shape of the building will be so different,” said Jan Hykamp, the president of the GNBA. “(Now) it won’t dramatically change Queen Street.” According to the renderings shown at the meeting, the new proposed re-design of the building by the GNBA will no longer disrupt the original cityscape of Queen Street East by towering over the buildings that are already there.
One of the major proposed changes to the building would be to shrink the condo from six-storeys to three. It’s a reduction the community deems a fair compromise. These changes, unlike the original renderings of the condo, which obstructed the view of the clock tower gateway into the Beaches and overshadowed the neighbouring buildings, comply with the area’s newly created Urban Design Guidelines (UDG), which aim to preserve the character and heritage of Queen Street East.
The guidelines were unanimously passed by council in November 2012 in response to a visioning study the community took part in.
“The city is trying to allow the Beach to slowly develop in a way that will not impact the neighbourhood (negatively),” said Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue.
Residents at the meeting were told about the additional proposed amendments the association made to the building, with the community’s help, which include a wider sidewalk, an unobstructed view of the clock tower gateway, a three-storey street wall with a four-storey apparent height.
According to Hykamp, the GNBA has been fighting this development for about two years and don’t intend to give up now. One of the reasons why the issue is being put to the OMB, Hykamp said, is because the City of Toronto never said yes or no to the developer’s proposal and now the developer is looking to appeal the GNBA’s changes and still build the six-storey condo.
The community’s major concerns were about the height and size of the new proposed condo, its heritage sensitivity and its general compatibility with the neighbourhood.
“The look and feel (of the building) needs re-jigging,” said Sappira Charles, an architect and a resident at Woodbine and Norway avenues.
“From an architecture standpoint, it’s not in line with the neighbourhood. It looks like a design that belongs in downtown that was sort of plopped onto this neighbourhood. It’s not a good fit.”
This isn’t the only development the community is fighting.
Another condo, proposed at 200 Woodbine Ave. by Queen Street East Properties Inc., threatens the area’s character and also isn’t in compliance with UDG, the GBNA said.
“This is what we’re trying to protect, it isn’t just some rinky-dink street,” Prue said.
“This is a whole destination that people come to...That’s why they live in the Beach, that’s why they fight for the Beach.”
And the GNBA isn’t fighting alone.
It’s getting legal help from the law firm WoodBull LLP, which will represent the association at the OMB pro bono, removing legal fees that could have potentially cost the GNBA upwards of $100,000, Hykamp said.
Instead they have to raise about $30,000 in order to pay the expert witnesses in the urban design and heritage fields, the two aspects in which its basing its case around. The GNBA has already begun fundraising and has collected about $10,000 and need another $20,000 more to cover the costs.
“They’re very wise here, to get pro bono work and to keep the costs to a minimum,” Prue said. “This is an amazing community in terms of knowing what they have to do and getting it done right.”
Nimbies can never be satisfied. Propose a six-storey building at the intersection of major avenues and they want three. I'm certain that if the developer had proposed three in the first place, they'd be demanding one.
It's not wanting to have clock tower at the fire hall just to the east that purportedly has them all riled up. Clock towers are seen as sacrosanct (we have so few of them), so a design that deferred to it in some way might have won converts. Maybe the urban design people at the City should have stepped up to the plate here to try to broker changes (ie. moved more volume to the back of the site) to make the clock tower visible from farther along Queen? Maybe they tried.
I agree in regards to the fire hall however, Jan Hykamp has been opposed to any buildings over three storeys west of Woodbine which may be based on an adopted 25 year old study limiting building heights to 3 storeys with a few places open to four storeys.
Hoarding is up around this site now, with a name, developers, number of suites, and website, but no other info yet. With Hallmark in this with Fieldgate, I would not be surprised if we learned shortly that this will be a Quadrangle design.