Queen and Woodbine condo clash looming
The recently adopted Beach Urban Design Guidelines (UDG) may face a trial by fire at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), as two development proposals for the northwest and northeast corners of Queen and Woodbine do not meet the new guidelines. The city's Planning Department and Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon indicated their intention to defend the UDG all the way to possible appeals to the OMB, while explaining that both developers have indicated they're not interested in redesigning their proposals.
The hall at the Balmy Beach Club was packed to near capacity on Feb. 13 for a presentation by the Planning Department on the development proposals. The crowd drowned out the noise at the bar, while a group of Boy Scouts earning a badge kept the discourse relatively civil.
Senior Planner Leontine Major presented both proposals, each for six storey buildings, followed by a comparison to the recently adopted UDG.
The property at 1880 and 1882 Queen Street East and 196 Woodbine Avenue, marketed as 200 The Beach, has been submitted for both a rezoning application and site plan approval. The proposal calls for 27 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom units, with retail on the first floor. There would be 34 parking spaces for the residences, two for visitors and three for the retail.
The UDG calls for a 45˚ setback above the fourth storey (12.4 m) on the Queen Street side, and a setback of 45˚ above 10.5 m at the rear. A portion of the proposed building would also cut into the 4.8 m setback required for sidewalks throughout the length of Queen included in the UDG. The proposal's mechanical penthouse is not within the angular planes called for in the UDG.
The building proposed in the rezoning application for 1884 Queen St. E., the site of the former Shell gas station, would contain 43 one-bedroom units and 27 two-bedroom units, again with retail at the ground floor. There would be 34 parking spots for residences, four visitor spots and 19 paid parking retail spots that would be available to the general public as well.
The building as proposed would not meet most setback requirements in the UDG (the Queen Street side can go up to three storeys or 9.5 m, then step back 3 m up to a height of 12.5 m, then set back at an angle of 26˚ for a further storey). The proposal also would not maintain views of the fire hall clock tower as required.
Major said both developers have told planners they intend to pursue their proposals as presented, without any further changes.
“It does not comply with the design guidelines. City Planning has requested the owner to comply with these guidelines, and if no further revisions are made…the City Planning division will be considering recommending a refusal of the application in its current form,” she said.
Major also explained that normally there wouldn't be any community consultation when a refusal report is being prepared by planning staff.
“We are coming out to the community because we went through a lengthy process through the Urban Design Guidelines with the community, and we want to reflect the opinions of the community…in our report,” she said.
While both developers had previously told planning staff that they wouldn't be changing their proposals, Karsten Riedel, developer of 200 The Beach (and the Rainsford project to the west) didn't entirely rule out possible changes when asked point blank by Jan Hykamp of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association.
“Are we prepared to fully comply with the guidelines? At this time we haven't made a final decision,” Riedel said, explaining that that was partly why he was attending the meeting.
The biggest reaction of the night came from a young Scout, who stood up to comment on the importance of the intersection, and, therefore, whatever is built on the site.
“It is the gateway to the Beach, as the gentleman over there stated, and I think that the gateway to the Beach should definitely be symbolic of what the Beach is. The gateway to the Beach should be the most 'Beach-ey' part of the community,” he said to loud applause.
The question and answer format, as often happens, veered off-topic occasionally, into parking, property tax and commercial rules complaints, but veered back to the topics of the UDG, building materials and the character and style of the Beach, which isn't necessarily uniform. Riedel said he's trying to build something that both all Beachers and potential buyers can be proud of, with a style inspired somewhat by the filtration plant.
“Can you duplicate exactly what's in the Beaches? No, you never can again. You can't build a wooden building, for example, on the corner. The Ontario building code simply does not permit it,” he said. “What exactly is the character and style? Does the old Lick's building reflect the filtration plant?”
The meeting came to an end before everyone in the room had their say, but without any major changes from the developers, the process in both cases appears likely to end in a showdown at the OMB. For some Beach residents, the difference this time is that the planning department is on their side. Whether that will make any difference remains to be seen.
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