Critics of a decades-old plan to build apartment towers on the former quarry lands east of Victoria Park Avenue are hoping the developer, Gerrard Clonmore Developments, will lower its sights now that low-rise developments are proposed on either side of its property.
Speaking at a Jan. 22 meeting of the Concerned Citizens for Quarry Lands Development, a Centreville Homes representative announced plans for stacked townhouses on a 2.2-acre property that combines the two vacant lots and six homes east of the GCD property and the Quarry Plaza and car wash on the north side of Clonmore Drive.
The Centreville plan is in early stages, but it would include a maximum of 120 new homes. Each three-and-a-half-storey townhouse would have a rooftop patio, and up to three suites.
On a 19-acre site that stretches west of the GCD property toward Victoria Park along Gerrard Street East, Build Toronto, the city’s surplus real estate corporation, is farther along with its plans for 210 new suites in townhouses, stacked townhouses and a four-storey apartment building.
Build Toronto’s plan also includes a 110,000 square-foot retail block similar to the Canadian Tire plaza at Leslie Street and Lakeshore Boulevard, as well as a 2.6-acre central park between the townhouses and the apartment building that would connect to a treed berm and walking trail along the railway to the north.
Neither plan comes close to the density of the GCD plan, which was first approved in 1969 and would allow four apartment towers with 1,455 suites.
Gary Crawford, the city councillor representing Scarborough Southwest, says while key questions remain about the Centreville and Build Toronto plans, their low-rise approach is a better fit for the neighbourhood.
“The hope is that the owner of GCD will at some point come to the realization that these tall towers, even though he has the zoning, are not practicable, are not marketable, and maybe at some point we can say, ‘Listen, we’ve got reasonably good development on both sides,’” said Crawford. “The market is really for low-rise residential.”
Crawford noted that GCD developed what is now a neighbourhood of townhouses stretching from just west of Victoria Park to Ted Reeve Arena.
And while the Ontario Municipal Board did confirm GCD’s rezoning, first approved when planners expected the Scarborough Expressway to run next to it, Crawford pointed out that nothing has come of it since.
“He’s had that for upwards of 20 years and over the last four years, there’s been no interest, no indication from anybody that he wants to build them,” said Crawford, noting GCD could rezone for low-rise residential if it wanted.
Amelia Bishop is a planner with KFA Architects who is working on the townhouse project for Centreville.
Asked about the GCD plan, Bishop said, “I think everyone’s hoping those towers don’t get built. There really isn’t any precedent nearby, especially on Clonmore.”
Bishop said the Centreville proposal still has a long way to go.
A site survey will be done once the snow melts, and traffic and water-services studies also have to be done before they apply for a rezoning. If granted, the rezoning would double the total allowable floor space on the property, which is currently 0.6 times the lot size.
No public meetings are legally required until that rezoning is filed, but Bishop said Centreville wanted to gauge public support for the townhouses before making such a detailed plan.
“The whole idea was to go to the community early in the game,” she said.
While no site renderings have been prepared yet, Bishop said the townhouses will look similar to Torbel’s Wallace Walk townhouses in the Junction neighbourhood.
“We do all the parking underground,” she said. “That allows us to have significant planting above-grade, so there’s very little asphalt and hardscaping – it’s kind of reminiscent of the garden townhouses you find in the UK.”
Bishop said they will study potential shadowing if the GCD towers do go up, but it’s unlikely the buildings would be close enough to cause a problem. She said Centreville will also look to see whether the townhouses could link with Build Toronto’s plan for a walking trail.
“They’re doing some really interesting things with that park, so tying into it would be a great feature,” she said.
A public meeting on the Build Toronto plan is expected in the next few weeks.
Correction: A previous version of this story listed the Wallace Walk development as a project built by Centreville Homes. In fact, Torbel was the the developer of Wallace Walk.