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Residents try to avoid OMB hearing over massive Esplanade development

Proposed St. Lawrence neighbourhood development  would take up a whole city block.

Both the city and local residents are pressing Sentinel (Sherbourne) Land Corp./Pemberton Group to rethink its development proposals for an entire block of land between Front and The Esplanade, Lower Sherbourne and Princess as they approach an Ontario Municipal Board hearing next year.

A couple of weeks ago, city council voted to oppose the July 2015 zoning amendment application for the lands at 177, 183 and 197 Front Street East, 15-21 Lower Sherbourne Street and 200 The Esplanade, sometimes called the Acura-Sobeys site. That application proposed four towers on 10-storey podiums, ranging from 25 to 33 storeys, creating 1,679 residential units and 1,913 square metres of ground floor retail along Front Street. The city wants the heights reduced to below 30 and 20 storeys, among other changes.

A working group was struck in the spring. Suzanne Kavanagh, president of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, says they have been making progress in coming up with a proposal that's more acceptable to the neighbourhood.

“We've been asking them to think of what they'll be most proud of in 20 years,” says Kavanagh. For starters, residents would like the buildings to recognize David Crombie Park with appropriate setbacks and provide an east-west connection through the site. The buildings also have to be appropriate for the area's heritage district status. “We are optimistic that they're listening to us.”

The first proposal was a wall of three 34-storey towers.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Suzanne Kavanagh
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