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May, 2019: THIRD TOWER AT BRETTON PLACE
Over the past two years, the SRA has been involved in discussions concerning a new tower proposed for the landscaped space around the existing towers at 33 Rosehill and 44 Jackes. These discussions culminated in a mediation sponsored by the new LPAT tribunal (the successor to the OMB) that has now resulted in a settlement.
Our aim throughout this process has been to minimize the footprint of the additional tower and its impact on the green landscaping and trees in Bretton Place.
As originally proposed, the tower was to be built on top of a 4-storey podium and townhouse development that would have stretched along most of the Rosehill frontage of the site, with virtually all trees on the rest of the site to be removed in order to repair the leaking roof of the underground parking. The new development also includes an “amenities pavilion” to be built between the existing towers on the east side of the pavilion, with a two-story elevator structure on the eastern side that would have overshadowed the existing path to Rosehill beside the reservoir.
Through involvement in the mediated settlement, we were able to eliminate the four-storey stacked townhouses along Rosehill and reduce the size of the podium under the tower. As a result, a significant number of trees will be kept or replaced. (The number of trees to be removed has been reduced from 68 to no more than 35.) We were also able to reduce the visual impact of the amenity pavilion, moving the elevator from adjacent to the Rosehill path to a location closer to the existing building at 44 Jackes. These improvements were accomplished by moving gross floor area from the podium to two additional floors on the proposed tower.
The settlement was agreed to by all parties to the mediation. The nine citizen participants in the mediation (including the SRA) were unanimous in supporting the settlement as the best that could be obtained under the circumstances.
As you may recall, the SRA together with the Deer Park Residents Group, asked after the 1421 Yonge mediation for (and Council approved) a comprehensive planning study of the Yonge/St Clair area and recommendations for a new secondary plan. Following pushback re resource availability from Planning, this was reduced to an initial secondary plan study for the Yonge/St Clair intersection, from the Racquet Club site to Ferndale on the East, from Heath St in the north to Rosehill in the south.
Cathie Macdonald (Deer Park Planning committee chm) and I have met with planners and Josh Matlow in several meetings to push this forward. Last fall, it was agreed that the first step would be development of a "Vision statement" setting out goals and policies for the "public realm", meaning what pedestrians see at grade. This led to a half-day workshop organized by Community Planning and the Urban Design Group last Thursday, attended by representatives of all of the known current and potential developers in the area (including the Racquet Club, which is about to sent out a request for proposals to the development community) as well as by Cathie, me, and some other residents from Deer Park. There was a good consensus at the meeting, looking in particular to the need for (1) wider sidewalks, (2) additional parks within development proposals, (3) more trees, (4) off-Yonge pedestrian routes (eg from Pleasant to St Clair behind the 1421 develpment), (5) improvements to car traffic [corner widenings, Heath realignment), (6) additional signalized intersections to slow traffic through the area and increase pedestrian safety (new traffic signals on Yonge at Pleasant Blvd and DeLisle and on St Clair at Alvin), (7) appropriateness of a 2-4 storey podiums, and (8) potential for integration of the Catholic cemetery into a path system. The focus was mostly on public realm issues; the height issue was identified as a key issue but obviously not resolved. The discussion on built form focused on (1) the importance of precedents, and (2) the need for access to sunlight on the two avenues. There was no consensus as to the appropriate height limit for towers, but a general acceptance of the political opposition to heights above 30+ storeys.
Planning staff undertook to report on all of this to Council in late spring, step 1 to a "master plan" for the area that can become the basis for a revised secondary plan. It was agreed by the planning staff that a wider revised secondary plan is necessary and will need to be undertaken, I expect that to be a political issue (the planners need direction from Council) later this spring.
2. PARTICULAR PROJECTS
1) 1 DeLisle
The proposal is (a) excellent in its treatment of the public realm --significantly wider sidewalks, preservation (with a setback) of the historic mid-block facade on Yonge St, and a new addition to the public park on the south side of DeLisle-- but (b) excessive in height (asking for 48 storeys). The public meeting on Jan 22 focused mostly on opposition to the height and on concern about traffic and drop-off issues, esp. for the condo to the west.
2) 1365-1375 Yonge Street
The public meeting on Jan 24 focused on height and setbacks. The current OP requires an angular plan setback above 6 storeys to minimize the visual impact and sunlight access as seen from Yonge, and this was also emphasized at the Feb 7 charette as well as overall height. The developers of course submit that a straight line from the Jack (the building under construction at Yonge and Jackes) to what got approved for 1421 should define the height We naturally submit that a straight line from the height of the building at the SE corner of Rosehill and Yonge would be a better guide.
3) Other Yonge/St Clair projects
Bank of Nova Scotia building. Slate is to renovate, no significant change to height or mass.
Wittington project (block between Yonge and Alvin north of Loblaws, including City parking lot on Alvin). Since approval of a 37-storey mid-block tower and park scaling down to townhouses on Heath back in 2008, Wittington has succeeded in buying up all of the properties it did not own on the east side of Yonge St up to Heath. They are currently in the process of putting together a revised application.
Racquet Club property. As part of the rebuilding of the Club buildings destroyed by fire, the Club is looking to combining its future rebuilt space with a proposal for two towers.
4) Towers at Yonge and Bloor (Bloor to Yorkville)
There are at least four megatowers proposed in this area, all of which are likely to be approved. The one good thing is that City Planning has successfully negotiated the provision of two pedestrian walkways and linear parks from Cumberland to Yorkville, a significant improvement in public realm achieved through a negotiation with developers similar to the process now underway for Yonge/St Clair