Developer: How about 62 Stacked Townhomes?

Wednesday’s meeting to discuss the latest development proposals for the old Beer Store property at 2059 – 2069 Weston Road was deja vu all over again. The developer, Jack Morelli from First Avenue Properties and Councillor Nunziata met with residents last October and the proposal at that time was for 38 townhomes on the site.  

First the good news:

One of the developer’s other properties, the old Post Office building at 2050 Weston has found a major tenant. A medical centre (relocating from Mount Dennis) will occupy the entire 20,000 square feet of the ground floor next Spring. The upstairs will contain 15 new apartments.

Now the bad news:

After being sent back to the drawing board by various city agencies, Mr. Morelli has returned with a revamped proposal that now consists of 3 buildings occupying a smaller footprint but containing 62 condominium stacked town homes (a 63% increase) measuring between 500 – 1300 square feet. Each of the buildings will contain 24 underground parking spaces; one per townhome and 10 extras for visitors to the 62 homes. The townhomes will form a frontage along Weston Road. Once again, the city (represented by Natasha Lang) will study the plans to see if they comply with city requirements.

The developer stated that, ‘This is the new concept of town homes and it’s what people want’. He also justified building town homes instead of retail since it took such an effort to find a tenant for his retail space across the street, and besides, ‘There’s too much retail space in Weston anyway’, and, ‘Retail is out of the question’ (on the site).

Apparently the MCR (not R2) zoning on the site allows an 8 storey building on the property. This was repeatedly hammered home by both the developer and Councillor Nunziata. MCR zoning permits a retail ground floor that could form the exterior of the project along Weston Road in keeping with the rest of the historical ‘Main Street’.

All of this seems to be posturing. Mr. Morelli, like any developer, wishes to generate the largest amount of money from the site. He is not doing Weston any favours. To point out that he could put up an 8-storey building is an empty threat. If Mr. Morelli could make more money by erecting such a building, you can be sure he would do so.

The people of Weston will be left with this development for many decades. Townhomes will be a classic case of bad planning along Weston Road in the middle of a retail stretch. While there is a demand for housing, any city planner will tell you that developments need to fit in with their surroundings. As currently proposed, these townhomes will look like missing keys on a piano or the gap in a hockey player’s smile.

The Weston Road Frontage.

The proposed Weston Road Frontage.

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3-D view showing the street entrance of the development.

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Plan view of the development.

Mr. Morelli agreed to the formation of an advisory committee that would work to consider the wishes of area residents. This will be done in conjunction with the Weston Village Resident’s Association.

Weston Federal Building Update.

Last August WestonWeb commented on the dismal state of buildings along Weston Road. This is the first in a series of updates starting with 2050 Weston Road – what was once known as the Weston Federal Building, containing the post office for many years. In 2012 the Federal Government sold the building after efforts by Mike Sullivan and Frances Nunziata to make the property available for community use. The premises have stood vacant for years but now, while things are happening inside, external appearances have changed little.

The old Federal Building. No trace of its former tenant remains.

The old Federal Building as it looked last August.

There Federal Building in July 2014

The Federal Building as it looks today – little changed, its facade still blighted by ugly utility wiring.

A reader of the original article commented that changes to the building had been held up because of asbestos issues on the second floor. These seem to have been fixed as the interior is currently being worked on.

While there has been quite a bit of activity inside the building, the once attractive brick, cement and granite exterior remains largely as it was with a broken window and old graffiti allowed to remain. The planting beds outside the building have been cemented over.

The upper floors are being converted into apartments and are advertised for rent.

Work is in progress on the ground floor.

The interior has been stripped and work is in progress on the ground floor.

Broken windows invite more vandalism.

A broken window outside the old entrance.

Graffiti is still there after nearly a year.

Graffiti is still there after more than a year.

This bench is an artifact from the old City of York and belongs in a museum.

This bench is an artifact from the old City of York and belongs in a museum.

While First Avenue Properties has had a ‘For Lease’ sign displayed on the premises since last August, several calls to arrange a viewing were put off with the comment that, ‘The agent who deals with the property is not in the office’. They did allow that the upper floor apartments will be bachelors and one-bedrooms.

If readers wish to try for themselves, the phone number is 905-856-3031.

Upcoming events

The developers of the former Beer Store site have amended their development application, so Frances Nunziata’s office will be hosting a meeting to discuss the changes.

It’s not clear to me what the changes are: the plan had been to build 38 three-storey town homes on the site. The new plans call for the same number of homes, “with integral garages located in seven building blocks”, so it may be the garages or number of blocks that is the difference.

The meeting will be Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at 7 pm, at the York West Active Living Centre, 1901 Weston Road.

UrbanArts will be launching the “Recipe for Community” cookbook and showcasing their programming on July 24 at 10:30 at their new location, 5 Bartonville Ave E. Various bigwigs will be in attendance and you are invited.

Westminster changes hands

The former Westiminster United Church on William Street was sold to Family Prayer Mission, a Roman Catholic organization, who took possession around the 19th of June.

The building will be used for spiritual retreats and prayer services, according to Rappai Nedumpara, President of the organization.

Nedumpara says that they have no plans to open the facility to a daycare or community groups such as Beavers. He says, “we need the whole space. We want to have living facilities there.”

The retreat will be modelled after the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world, he says, the Divine Retreat Centre Muringoor, which serves hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Westminster United closed last summer, taking with it the only institutional daycare in Weston village.

Donation thwarts quick sale of HRRH Church site

It was standing-room only at a meeting last night about the future of the Humber River Hospital Church Street site, according to reports.

The HRRH is looking to sell the building as it consolidates its operations at its new campus near Keele and Wilson.

Hospital administrators have not yet sold the site, and do not yet know what will happen there, but members of the audience were clear that they did not want it to become a residential building. Instead, they suggested functions more in line with its current use, such as a nursing home, a college, doctors’ offices, or a daycare.

No decisions will be made any time soon though: part of the land on which the hospital sits was donated by a Weston family, the Trimbees, in the late 1940s. The Trimbees made it a condition that the site must remain a hospital, and that ownership would revert to “the Town of Weston” in the event that the land was no longer needed.

This is certain to throw a wrench into the sale of the site and may allow residents to have a greater say about what becomes of the hospital. There are conditions the city must meet when selling property, and, though I’m not a lawyer, they seem to force at least some more consultation.

The extra work, consultation, and the upcoming municipal election mean that little will happen until 2015.

 

 

Events this week

The future of the Church Street hospital will be discussed this Monday, June 2, 2014 at 7 pm in the hospital’s cafeteria at 200 Church Street.  Importantly, the future of the  existing site at 200 Church Street will be discussed.

The all-candidates debate will be held this Wednesday, at 7 pm, at the York Civic Centre, at 2700 Eglinton. Laura Albanese, who skipped the televised debate, has said she will attend.

Ontario Election Debate poster v.5 final

The official opening of the Farmers’ Market will be next Saturday, June 14, with live music, a free waffle breakfast, and a kids’ zone.

Market opening day, 2014

Cruickshank Park to get new equipment

New calisthenic equipment will be installed in Cruickshank Park. The equipment, which will cost $48,000, will be paid for with money from real-estate developments in the ward.

This will the the only calisthenic equipment in Ward 11, though there is some (which YHC has never seen being used) further along the Humber River Trail.