Developer giving Annex residents 'middle finger,' according to Coun. Joe Cressy
ADI Development Group said it held meeting Wednesday to hear resident concerns
Residents in the Annex are fighting a 29-storey condo development at 64 Prince Arthur Avenue, saying the developer promised a much shorter building in original plans.
ADI Development Group held an open house for residents to air their concerns Wednesday night.
City councillor for the area Joe Cressy attended the meeting and summed up his concerns to a crowd of more than 100.
"This is, without a doubt, one of the most ridiculous and ugly proposals I have seen in my time at city hall," he said. "This meeting is a farce, the city will not allow this ... and I guarantee you this ugly proposal will not see the light of day."
Communication a major concern, according to residents
Most of residents' anger at the meeting seemed to stem from a lack of communication from the developer.
Coun. Cressy said the developers met with him and the Annex Residents Association two years ago, proposing a 17-storey building and a working relationship with the community.
Currently, ADI Development Group's proposal is a 29-storey condo building with 60 units, about two per floor, a plan it has already submitted to the Ontario Municipal Board for approval.
"You don't show up one day and say, 'we want to work with you on a proposal in the teens,' and then a year later apply for a 29-storey building and then immediately appeal it to the OMB without even talking to the neighbourhood," Cressy said.
"It's as if you're giving the middle finger to the neighbourhood and that's just wrong."
Co-chair of the Annex Residents Association's planning and zoning committee, Edward Leman, also originally met with the developers to go over their ideas.
At this point, he said, "we're not on the same planet with the developer."
Leman said they've successfully worked with other developers to green light projects in the neighbourhood, but the building they've put forward, without much consultation, he said, doesn't work.
"The building itself ... I personally think it belongs in Dubai, or in Las Vegas, but certainly not on Prince Arthur Avenue, which is right at the beginning of one of the most vibrant and established communities in Toronto."
Neighbours to the North
Henry Eaton said Wednesday's meeting marked the first time he's been asked for his opinion on the proposal.
He lives on Lowther Avenue, just behind where the new building would stand. He said the current plan puts the building's exterior extremely close to his townhouse.
"I don't think there's anywhere in the city of Toronto where there's a building of this scale located less than a metre from a residential home, and that's what you have here," he said.
Eaton's worried exhaust fumes from the building could end up in his daughter's bedroom. He believes the building could also have significant shading impacts.
"We're not happy at all, and that's why we're here today to come out and express our views and luckily we have a whole community behind us," he said.
Demand for luxury
President and CEO of ADI Development Group Tariq Adi said anger from the public is fairly standard when it comes to new developments, but the company held the meeting in order to hear concerns.
"Sometimes, yes, they are emotionally charged and upset, but we'll listen, and that's part of the process," he said.
The group decided the smaller building they'd originally proposed didn't take into account the "sensitivities of the surrounding area," Adi said.
"If you look at the neighbourhood, it's a wealthy neighbourhood. It's predominantly a luxury neighbourhood. We're arguably on the border of Yorkville, if not in Yorkville. So there's a big demand for this type of product."
It's a point Craig Patterson, founder and editor-in-chief of Retail Insider, an online publication, agreed with. He attended the meeting to voice his support for the project.
"The city of Toronto needs elite housing," he said. "We're not competing against Guelph and Kitchener; Toronto is competing against London, New York and Paris and Hong Kong."
Overall, Patterson said he finds there's always uproar over development in the city.
"I understand that the Annex is an absolutely wonderful established neighbourhood with some beautiful homes, but it's also a neighbourhood that's in the downtown core and is stagnating," he said.
Adi is adamant their proposal can still be amended, even though they've already appealed to the OMB for approval.
He said they did so because of uncertainty over what will happen when the OMB is replaced. The provincial government announced last year they'd be creating a new, less-powerful decision-making body after hearing complaints the OMB held too much power and favoured developers.
The fact ADI Development Group held Wednesday's meeting, Adi said, showed they're open to discussion.
"We're happy to hear the feedback and we'll continue to work with the staff, the city and the local residents," Adi said.
Coun. Cressy, on the other hand, said he'll be moving a motion at city council directing lawyers to fight ADI Development Group's application.
"That will be a multi-year-long legal process," he said. "In the meantime, we will work with many other developers who come in that same time frame to build good projects and enhance our neighbourhood."