A bent fence is making for bad neighbours at the construction site of the Carmelina condos at Danforth and Woodbine avenues.
Add a cracked garage and complaints that a crane operator swung a loaded cement bucket over families’ backyards, and a few residents in the 22 homes that border the site are threatening to sue.
Owner Frank Magno and construction manager Nick Ainis say they will quickly mend the conflicts.
“We are trying, despite what people feel about us sometimes,” said Ainis, principal at Fusioncorp Developments Inc., the company overseeing construction of the 12-storey, 148-unit condo.
“A lot of the problem is breakdown in communication,” he added. “All of a sudden someone will call the city, and then we’ll hear from the city. But we don’t hear from the neighbours first.”
Magno and Ainis certainly heard a lot from the neighbours on April 30, when they met for a two-hour question and answer session hosted by Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon at the Danforth/Coxwell Library. More than 60 people came, including a city planner and two city buildings officials invited by McMahon.
One resident, who lives on Moberly Avenue and who declined to give her name for this story, said her garage and a stone wall near her house were both cracked by digging and shoring work for the Carmelina foundation.
“Nobody came to tell me,” she said.
Magno apologized for not telling the woman about the cracks right away, adding that the garage would be repaired.
“Going forward now, that’s something we’ve got to make right,” he said. “And we will make it right.”
Regarding residents’ complaints that crane loads were illegally swung above their backyards, Ainis he is not aware that any loads were swung over anyone’s property.
“We’ll speak to our foreman to make sure not one load is swung over anyone’s property,” he said, adding that the company in charge of the crane, MTN Forming, has recently hired a new person to operate it.
Two residents described trouble they have had with their backyard fences – one was bent by Carmelina shoring work, another was supposed to be removed for just three weeks but was still down three months later. Other residents described parking hassles, drips of concrete on their houses and cars, and the difficulty of getting in touch with someone from Carmelina who could help.
“We are very busy, too, with the obligations to the site and our business,” said Ainis. “We can’t always come when a neighbour calls right away.”
“Your time is money – so is mine, so is theirs,” said Enzo Spatone, who owns a rental property next to the Carmelina site.
“What are you guys doing for these people that they have to leave work to come to the property?”
Despite the sometimes heated exchanges at the meeting, Ainis said afterwards that he is confident the issues will be resolved.
For one thing, he said construction will go more smoothly by the end of summer, when the condo’s foundation is built to grade level.
For another, he said the liaison committee spearheaded by councillor McMahon will ensure better communication between residents and his crew.
“Come back to us in three months and see how we’re doing,” he said. “How’s that?”
Before construction started, the site of the Carmelina project site was vacant after a 2001 arson fire that razed the previous building, Woodbine Building Supply.
Lit just after midnight on Christmas Day, the fire killed Tony Jarcevic, one of the arsonists, and severely wounded his accomplice, Jonathan Paskalis. The six-alarm fire required the evacuation of 50 homes and took 171 firefighters two days to extinguish.
John Magno, co-owner of Woodbine Building Supply, was convicted of manslaughter and arson for his role in the conspiracy to destroy the old building and collect a $3.5 million insurance claim.