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The Queensway : Development News

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Ontario Place considering new park

The first step in the reimagining of what was once Ontario Place is underway, and the province is presenting its initial ideas to the public on the 22nd.

This is the second of four planned public meetings on the subject. The first, in early December, introduced interested folks to the design team.

The first phase of a multi-year redevelopment, according to an announcement the province made in June, will be a new park and waterfront trail.

"The new public space will be open and accessible to Ontarians, creating much-needed green space and access to the waterfront," says Charles Millett, a manager with the communications branch of the Ontario government. "The new park and trail will serve as an anchor for future development on the rest of the site."

The consultations will continue through the spring, at which point a decision will be made as to what, exactly, will be done.

"Engaging with Ontarians on the park design is a priority for us," Millet says. "The design process for the park will be collaborative to ensure that Ontarians’ ideas and comments are reflected in the final design."

The current goal is to have the park and trail completed by 2015.

And what then?

"The scale and complexity of this project means that it needs to be completed in phases to ensure the transformation is done in the best possible way," says Millett. "It is too early to say what the next phase of revitalization will include. The new public park and waterfront trail will serve as an anchor for future development on the site."

Writer; Bert Archer
Source: Charlene Millett

Photo by Tanja-Tiziana.

Public meeting to consider doubling the density of Queensway condos

The Remington Group has applied to almost double the number of condos they’re hoping to build in the third phase of their Queensway project, and Councillor Peter Milczyn thinks there may be some problems.

"I’m sure residents will have a variety of concerns," he says, referring to the April 15 public hearing the city is hosting in Etobicoke. "The height, at 50 storeys, is too high. I think that’s not supportable given that there are no other tall buildings around there, that they’re not adjacent to a subway station and so on. The density itself? We’ll have to look at the traffic studies. I’m not so concerned about the number of units as I am about the built form, the height and the massing of the buildings."

Remington is proposing to up the unit count from 1,000 to 1,819.

Milczyn, a graduate of U of T’s architecture school and once head of his own design firm, worries that Richmond may be going for too much too quickly in a spot that has, up until now, been a one-side-of-the-street neighbourhood, with the industrial lands currently being built of having had no residents at all.

The land IQ condos are being built on used to belong to G. H. Wood, the corporation that was responsible, among other things, for public bathroom hand-dryers with their once ubiquitous motto, "Sanitation for the nation." After moving about 20 years ago, the land was held up for about a decade, the result of a protracted divorce between its new Chinese owners.

Milczyn has high hopes the Queensway, a road he says has been thought of for years as nothing more than "a six-lane bypass to the Gardiner Expressway." With people living on both sides of it, he is optimistic that it may become the centre of Etobicoke, a pedestrian-friendly zone with shops, cafes, and everything else Lakeshore Boulevard once had and is attempting to regenerate. He would like to work with Artscape, he says, "to bring in some gallery space and maybe artists’ studios as part of this development to create a bit of an arts hub along the Queensway."

The public meeting will be held at Holy Angels Church at 65 Jutland Road, beginning with an open house at 6:30pm on April 15. The meeting will run from 7pm to 8pm.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Milczyn

CORRECTION: The first reference to the developer's name was misstated in the original version of this article.

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Queensway's new density shaping the strip into a real neighbourhood again

Rapid condo development along the Queensway has finally resulted in the formation of the sorts of organizations that make neighbourhoods neighbourhoods.

The first phase of IQ Condos by the Remington Group is now under construction at Zorra Street east of Kipling, and phase two has just been approved by council, bringing hundreds of new residents who will start arriving in 2014.

These newbies will join residents of several smaller, loft-style condos that have also been approved for the area, along with several new restaurants, giving the Queensway, located in Peter Milczyn’s Ward 5, the density needed for a fully functional and enthusiastic BIA, which will be going before the business community in April for a formal vote. This follows the formation of the neighbourhood's first residents association about a year ago.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Susan O’Connor

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Green Toronto Awards nominations now open

Nominations opened this week for the 2012 Green Toronto Awards, though the most interesting category from the 2011 edition has been dropped.

Last year, the awards expanded to include a green homes category, aimed at individuals who had done something remarkable to or with their own homes.

"It wasn't our strongest category," says Jessica Chow, co-ordinator for the city-sponsored awards. "We don’t know why. We noticed a lot of them were, 'Oh, I recycle in my home.' It wasn't really what we were after."

So this year, it's been folded into the more general green design category, where individual homes will now compete with eco clothing, green roofs and other design innovations.

Nominations can be submitted here until midnight on Feb. 6. Winners will be announced in March.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jessica Chow

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

130,000 square foot, $73-million St. Joseph hospital reno progressing, 1st floor nears completion

Our Lady of Mercy is nearing the completion of her ascent at the Queensway and Sunnyside.

Work that began in January, 2007 on the underground parking lot is finally nearing completion, and the first floor of the new Our Lady of Mercy wing of St. Joseph's Health Centre this week is getting its drywall and flooring, as well as tiling in the showers of the second floor.

Work has also begun on the third and fourth floors.

"One of the most exciting aspects of the new OLM wing," says St. Joe's president and CEO Carolyn Baker, "is the state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that helps us provide high quality care to our tiniest patients featuring 20 bassinettes, an increase from our current 12. The new wing will also house an expanded Family Birth Centre to accommodate 4,000 annual births and increase over the 3,300 we had last year."


Once completed, the new wing, which replaced the old one that was demolished, will be 130,000 square feet spread over four floors. It will be the home of neonatal and pediatric care units, as well as a new birthing centre and mental health facilities for children and adolescents.

The work is being done by between 40 and 100 workers a day, employed by Vanbots.

The total budget is $73 million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Carolyn Baker

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Tibetans reclaim 2 acres of disused Etobicoke community gardens, Dali Lama to bless

"These garden were in operation in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s," says Councillor Peter Milczyn, of the just-resuscitated Titan Road community gardens. "Around the time of amalgamation, the number of people using it dropped off, and when amalgamation occurred, the garden was shut down."

Then came the Tibetans.

"A couple of years ago, I was approached by a community group, the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre, who were constructing their community and cultural centre across the street. They saw the old sign that says City of Etobicoke garden plots."

Milczyn says he took the idea to city staff, and was met with silence, but after resolving an issue with another councillor who he says had been blocking the grounds use on behalf of one of their constituents, who was using it for storage, the two acres of hydro corridor lands are being prepared to use again. All it will take, Milczyn says, is a little tractor to clear out a decade of overgrowth, and a topsoil top up, to make it ready for the 1,000-plus members of the Tibetan centre, who will also be sharing it with other interested neighbours.

Though Little Tibet is several kilometres away in Parkdale, as a result of these gardens, this Kipling and Queensway neighbourhood will likely take on a greater significance to this exiled community. According to Milczyn, the Dalai Lama will be visiting it and giving the project his blessing next month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Milczyn

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


4.5 acres of Westwood Theatre grounds sold to province for new courthouse

It's a gorgeous wreck of a building, but unfortunately, the Westwood Theatre is useless, the land it's on tainted.

During the final session of the last city council, an agreement was reached to sell a portion of these lands 4.5 out of a total of 19 to the Ontario Realty Corporation in order to build a new provincial criminal court house and a 450-spot underground parking garage.

"It will certainly be an economic stimulus to the area," says city councilor Peter Milczyn, who remembers seeing Bambi at the Westwood more than 30 years ago. "We believe it will bring commercial development, offices for lawyers and whatnot, and restaurants and shops to serve them."

The court house will ultimately employ between 400 and 450 people.

The province will have to remediate the soil, which has been used industrially since at least the 1930s. Milczyn expects servicing the area -- drainage, electricity, etc. -- to commence in 2012, with construction set to begin a year later, with a tentative 2015 completion date.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Milczyn

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Stonegate Farmers Market gets $1,400 beautification grant

The Stonegate Farmers' Market, a 13-stall weekly summer market run by the Stonegate Community Health Centre, has received a $1,400 grant from the city to beautify itself.

Since getting the grant, part of the city's Neighbourhood Beautification Program, some new signs were made up and some of the noticeably old tables were replaced.

The market is set up every summer weekend just west of the Humber and north of the Queensway on Park Lawn Road, which its administrator calls the "invisible dividing line between the neighbourhood's lower income apartments and higher income homes.

"We also had a competition," says Julia Graham, the Stonegate community health worker in charge of the market, which is currently in its sixth year, "where customers could vote on which stall was the nicest, and whichever vendor won would get a tent to set up their stall under."

In addition to a couple of tents, the grant money will also buy chairs for the many seniors the market attracts each week.
 
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Julia Graham

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


39-year-old, 96-acre Ontario Place takes first step towards re-birth

Last week, the province took the first step towards making Ontario Place something other than a focus of nostalgia for people who remember when it meant something to them back in 1979.

Ontario Place Corporation, an agency of the provincial Ministry of Tourism and Culture, issued a request for information, or RFI, seeking interest from developers interested in handling the planned re-birth of the 96-acre site, most of which was landfill, which opened in 1971.

According to Hugh Mansfield, whose firm is handling the public relations, the RFI outlined five specific categories to be addressed in any new design, which he ranked in order of importance as education, culture, retail and dining, entertainment and a showcase for the province's efforts towards sustainability.

"There were a couple of contributing factors," Mansfield says of the motivation and timing of the project. "Attendance has dropped off dramatically, down 60 per cent from the mid-80s." He says that when the Place first opened, it drew between 2.8 and 2.9 million visitors a year, a number that's hovered for the past half dozen years at around a million, half of whom just go to the amphitheatre, and the majority of the rest of whom stick to the water park.

There is no budget set yet, but Mansfield says they expect the project to be a public-private partnership, which he says may include naming rights, but will not result in any sale of provincial land.

The deadline for the RFI is Sept. 10, after which an RFQ (request for qualifications) will be issued, followed by an RFP (request for proposals). The winner of the contract will be announced in July, 2011.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Hugh Mansfield

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Tridel to launch 27-storey second phase of new 4-tower condo community

West Village, a massive new condo community by Tridel, has launched its first and is about to launch its second of four phases in what will be a four-tower, single-podium development in Etobicoke.

The first tower will be 27 storeys with 267 suites. Though Tridel hopes all four towers will be roughly the same height, the city has currently zoned the fourth one at 15 storeys.

"We're really trying to push the community feel of the building," says Samson Fung, Tridel's spokesman. "It's four buildings in an area that doesn't really have that."

The buildings, designed by Sheppard Avenue West firm Rafael & Bigauskas Architects, are to be built on The West Mall just north of Bloor Street West to LEED standards. Set between the Etobicoke Community Centre and Cloverdale Mall, West Village will be just west of Kipling station and Tridel's other development in the area, Parc Nuvo.

Construction is set to begin next year, with a fall or winter, 2013 occupancy.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Samson Fung

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

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