The recently adopted Beach Urban Design Guidelines (UDG), completed after months of community consultation and work by the city’s planning department and dozens of concerned Beach residents, is already facing its first two challenges, in the form of rezoning applications on the northwest and northeast corners of Queen and Woodbine.
Both applications are for six-storey condo buildings, with retail on the first floor and two floors of underground parking. Both are above the height limits in the UDG, and “neither of them comply with the recently adopted design guidelines,” according to Senior Planner Leontine Major.
Both proposals are open for community consultation at a public meeting to be held at the Balmy Beach Club at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The property at 1880 and 1882 Queen St. E. and 196 Woodbine Ave., referred to by some city staff as ‘Rainsford Two’ and marketed as ‘200 The Beach’, is being developed by The Riedel Group, which also built One Rainsford, just to the west of the proposed building.
As proposed, the development would consist of 450 sq m of retail on the ground floor, with five floors of 29 residential units above. The height would be 19.5 m, with a setback on the sixth floor facing Queen, and the total floor area would be 3,247 sq m.
On the northeast corner, at 1884 Queen St. E., is a larger proposal from Queen Empcsix Limited, for ground floor retail and five storeys of 70 residential units, on the former site of a Coffee Time and Shell gas station. The total floor area of the building would be 6,391 sq m, with 626 sq m of retail on the first floor. The proposed height is 20 m, with the sixth floor setback. The proposal as it currently stands would also block the view of the fire station clock tower, from the viewpoints expressed in the UDG.
Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who requested the visioning study which led to the creation of the UDG, said she thought it would be best to let the public be involved right from the start of the rezoning application process.
“Planning could do a refusal report right off the bat, but we thought we’d have the developers come and explain their proposal to the community in the spirit of transparency, and let the developers hear from the community,” she said.
Major said both developers made some initial concessions to change requests from the planning department, but wouldn’t change their plans beyond the proposals that are being presented.
“At this point in time both of them have indicated that they’re not willing to make the modifications to make it comply with the new design guidelines,” she said.
She said the planning department is intent on ensuring its work on the UDG does not go to waste.
“We’re behind our design guidelines, we want people to comply with that. Our intention is that all developments that are before the city currently and future ones comply with the recently adopted design guidelines,” she said. The purpose of the consultation is to be able to include public opinion in the final report. “We want to, in our report, acknowledge what the community says.”
McMahon pointed out that both proposals are within the boundaries of the city’s midrise guidelines, but for her, that’s not good enough for the Beach.
“I’m happy to say it’s the guidelines or bust. All future developments have to meet our guidelines on Queen,” said McMahon. “We didn’t do these guidelines for nothing.”