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Two proposed developments polar opposites in Ward 32

A pair of developments needing zoning amendments at opposite ends of Ward 32 were the subjects of separate public meetings last month.

About 70 residents gathered at Danforth Mennonite Church to air concerns about a 10-storey, 32.2-metre-tall building proposed for 2359 Danforth Ave., the site of the former Morris Auction House.

Rubyk Enterprises Incorporated is proposing a 136-unit condominium building, with retail on the ground floor.

The building would step back on each level at the rear, with underground parking accessed from the alley that runs east off Westlake Avenue.

The building would be the tallest by far on the stretch of Danforth between the Main Square towers and the Carmelina condo under construction at Woodbine and Danforth Avenues.

The site is immediately surrounded by one- and two-storey commercial buildings to the north, a two-storey apartment complex to the east, a two-storey heritage-designated Toronto Hydro building to the west and two-storey houses to the south.

Though the proposal isn’t in keeping with its immediate neighbours, it is a sign of what’s to come on east Danforth, as the building almost meets the guidelines laid out in the city’s Avenues and Midrise Buildings Study.

While current zoning allows for a total height of 14 m in the front of the property and 12 m in the rear, the Avenues guidelines allow for a 27 m building plus 5 m for a mechanical penthouse. The exception to those guidelines in the proposal is the inclusion of four units surrounding the mechanical penthouse.

When asked about the proposed height, city planner Leontine Major pointed out that other streets in the area – Gerrard Street East, Kingston Road and Queen Street East – have lower heights because those streets are not as wide as Danforth.

The proximity to both a subway and a GO station also makes the site an ideal one for densification according to the provincial Places to Grow act, she said.

Major also said the guidelines in the Avenues study are intended to eventually become the official rules, which is why developers refer to them when asking for zoning amendments.

The main concerns raised by those in the crowd regarded increased traffic, particularly in the alley, and the fact that the proposal includes only 73 parking spaces, including seven visitor spots, for 136 units. Residents in the area repeatedly pointed out the neighbourhood is already under significant parking pressures, made worse by GO commuters leaving cars parked in the area all day.

A study done by the developer identified six possible development sites nearby on Danforth. Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said two of the possible sites identified in the study have been sold.

Those are the former postal distribution facility just west of Westlake and Wise Guys bar and grill.

Major added that the two sites mentioned by McMahon have much shallower lots than 2359 Danforth, and any development proposed for those properties would not be as tall as the current proposal.

However, any added density would only add to parking problems, according to a number of residents.

The possibility of barring residents of the proposed building from purchasing street parking permits was aired. Though the decision has to be voted on by city council, it has happened in the past in areas with serious parking issues, said Major.

While those at the Danforth meeting were concerned about a 10-storey building, residents near a proposed townhouse development near the foot of Woodbine Avenue were wondering about the possible impacts of 10 units.

About a dozen residents, most living in adjacent properties, gathered at Applegrove Community Complex for a public meeting in early November.

The proposed development would be accessed by a private lane running east off Woodbine, and encompasses 73, 77, 79 and 83 Woodbine Ave. and 3 Buller Ave. There would be two parking spots for each unit.

The Goldberg Group are asking for a height exemption, as the existing zoning calls for a maximum height of 10 m. Due to concerns about flooding – the site is in the city`s study area 32 in a citywide basement flooding study – the proposal is calling for a height of 12.9 m, to accommodate four storeys, with no basements.

“It’s really the soil conditions and the water that’s pushing us up,” said project architect Richard Witt.

Major, also the planner responsible for this proposal, pointed out that all builders must be able to prove that any new construction will not add to flooding problems or increase the amount of water entering the storm sewer system during rainfall.

She also mentioned that these properties have been for sale for about a decade, and most developers looking at the site would hope to construct a condo building.

“There are a number of similar developments within throwing distance of this,” she said.

Often people are concerned about trees being cut down for developments, and there would be 11 that would be removed and replaced in this case. However, most of those at the meeting were concerned about access to a large tree on their property which they believe will need to be removed sooner rather than later.

A similar-sized tree recently fell nearby, damaging some fences, and the proposed townhouses would make access to the existing tree more difficult. However, it was pointed out that providing access to one property is not the obligation of a neighbouring property.

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