Another battle could be brewing over the latest proposed condo development for the busy corner of Dundas Street West and Bloor Street West after the site has sat neglected for more than a decade
The project is slated for the original site of the Giraffe Condos, a 29-floor proposal that was rejected by both the City of Toronto and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) 10 years ago. That high-rise building would have towered over the two-storey commercial block.
Now, another developer has a proposal before the city that has again ignited local opposition because of density and traffic concerns. But this time around, according to local city councillor Gord Perks, those behind the project are already planning to go to the province to seek approval.
Aubrey Friesner has lived in the neighborhood for 15-years and was a vocal opponent of the first proposal.
He says after all these years, this new application is not much of an improvement over the last, even though the pattern of giraffe-like spots still adorns the building on the site where the Giraffe Condos would have stood.
“The current building is definitely an eyesore … Something needs to be done.”
His biggest concern is increased traffic in the area since the proposed development will have 100 parking spaces — 80 residential spots for 327 residential units and 20 for commercial tenants and visitors.
“You can’t turn left on Bloor, so cars will have to drive up and circle through the adjacent neighbourhoods,” said Friesner, who lives in a house on a nearby street.
The developer, Timbertrin (Bloor/Dundas) Inc., says a transportation impact study it commissioned proved “the functionality of the proposed parking and loading layout.”
Timbertrin expects most residents of the condominium, which is close to Dundas West subway station and the Bloor GO/UP Express station, will take public transit.
The architectural firm behind the design, Core Architects, referred all inquiries to the developer, which did not respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment.
Perks, who represents Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park, says the new building application is almost identical to the one that was proposed in 2007, which was rejected by the city and the OMB.
“So, it really is distressing to see the new owners come back with an identical proposal after we had that ruling in hand,” said Perks.
In its 2010 decision, the OMB agreed with the city’s zoning bylaw limiting structures to 10 storeys. The board said that limit is appropriate due to the site’s proximity to the Dundas West Subway station, and congestion due to the entrances for the King and Dundas streetcars.
“This particular site is cramped and crowded and has a lot of impacts,” said Perks.
“It’s an awkward site and we’ve made it plain to the developers that what they are proposing won’t fit, but they haven’t been listening to this point.”
City planning staff will review the application and should have a decision in the next six weeks. Perks says he expects it will be refused on similar grounds as the previous proposal.
“The applicant has already filed to have a hearing at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which is the new name for the OMB,” the councillor said.
“They’ve been very aggressive, frankly, and haven’t really made the kinds of changes that the community, the planning department or I have been asking for. So I would expect that, yes, the ultimate decision here will be made by the provincially appointed planning appeal body.”
Friesner, the area resident, would like to see the developers hit the pause button on the project, saying the transportation assessment study should be redone to take into account the neighbourhoods to the north and west of the proposed site.
“The developer should come back with a proposed design that’s not 25-plus storeys in the air — one that sits within the municipal bylaws.”
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