30 Storey tower concerns residents

There’s some good news and bad in the latest development proposal unveiled in last week’s information meeting hosted by Councillor Frances Nunziata. Well over 100 people packed the York West Active Living Centre where terms such as podium as it refers to the base of a tall tower and Woonerf were tossed around.

Since the move of Weston GO Station south of Lawrence, the parking lot has remained the home of Weston Farmers Market but is a bit of an eyesore and has lost its primary function. Over the last few years, residents have been involved in brainstorming the future of Weston and responding to subsequent ideas brought forward by developers and the city.

The Good

People power in Weston pushed the addition of a stop along the UP Express line. From that one act has come political respect for Weston residents, a commitment from politicians to spend money, quality planning for the future that involves residents and the unavoidable attention of developers who want a piece of the action. A business plan has been approved by the city for the development of land in the centre of Weston.

Lands to be developed not only include the old GO Station parking lot but the recently expropriated adjacent vacant land. Tied in with this will be an agreement with the owners of 35 King Street (late lamented home of Andrew McLean), Artscape and the City. The betting is that 26 subsidized living / work spaces plus creative programming and outdoor public space will encourage businesses and institutions to invest in Weston. Artscape will be given a lease to run the spaces for 50 years.

There will still be outdoor space for the Farmers Market which has been a diminished attraction in recent years, losing both customers and vendors. Hopefully the new digs will boost attendance.

A lot of ideas from the charette are still alive and the city feels that creating high quality public spaces is important as people walk through Weston to the UP Express. This pleasant environment will encourage them to linger and support local businesses.

place
The layout of the proposal – the footbridge and rail tracks are at the top right. Artists’ accommodations (brown) are along two sides of the existing building to the left. The original tower footprint is the dotted line.

 

place
The new tower footprint is the small blue square. The Farmers Market will be located near the footbridge ramp (stalls are dark red). Parking spaces for the Farmers Market will ease the parking on Weston Road at other times.

The Bad

Crowning the whole development like a single birthday candle will be a 30-storey residential rental tower. Apparently this kind of height is needed to make enough money for the developer the project worth while. Responding to a resident’s question, Rockport Group C.E.O. Jack Winberg, stated that a condominium development instead of a rental building would not sell in the current market. When asked if there is another tower of similar height in the locality, he mentioned the co-op building at 2100 Weston Road (it’s closer to 20 storeys).

The tower.
The tower.

As a sidenote, Mr Winberg’s company built Scarlett Heights retirement home along Lawrence and handily smacked down residents’ objections when the development was inevitably taken to the OMB.

The not so bad.

Chief City Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat mentioned that the original tower proposal was wider and had no podium. The latest version will have less of a shadow and a podium cuts down on the wind that tall buildings generate.

What Now?

There will be further opportunities to have input on this project and others but it is up to every Weston resident to get involved, attend consultation meetings and ask questions. Community input and the hard work of people and groups such as the Weston Village Residents’ Association have resulted in good things happening but vigilance will be needed to make sure that developers don’t cut corners or maximize their profits at the cost of a liveable community that we can all be proud of.

9 thoughts on “30 Storey tower concerns residents”

  1. Weston DOES NOT NEED more rental units. I am not sure what people are thinking but Weston Rd is lined with rental units, with plenty of vacancies. After a few years this building will lose its luster and become what you see lining Weston Rd.

    Spin it how you want……but it will happen.

  2. No no no no more tall rental towers! Is no one looking at the King St towers, Weston and Lawrence, and all along Weston Rd at the planning department? Urban blight from the past and now more? The low rise condominium on Lawrence west of Weston has been a success, and integrated into the streetscape.
    More meetings, more time fighting issues that should belong only to the greedy past, not perpetuated in an already stressed neighbourhood.

  3. “Responding to a resident’s question, Rockport Group C.E.O. Jack Winberg, stated that a condominium development instead of a rental building would not sell in the current market.”

    This is huge. It is kind of absurd to think there is ‘no market’ for condos. Toronto has become one of the most sought after places in the world to live in, for that reason houses and condos are being sold above asking price. Perhaps Mr. Winberg believes that the community is far too unappealing to attract willing buyers, therefore the best option is to slap together a tower and rent it out to precarious tenants. Which will only serve to hurt the community even more.

    I think in order to improve Weston we need to have investment, not only from our government but the people themselves. Communities must have individuals that have a vested interest and means(!) in ensuring things get better surrounding where they live. This is primarily facilitated through ownership. The area already has poorly maintained low-income rental units which currently house people with mental health issues, substance abuse issues, disability, the unemployed and seniors. After all this ownership argument was put peddled by Nunziata and the developer of the demolished Beer Store site during public consultations for the new “town-homes” going in there. Mind you anyone having looked at those plans quickly notices that it follows the packed-sardines-can method.

    We are segregating our poor and marginalized from the rest of society here in Weston. It is about time we changed that.

    We need to be attracting new blood in the form of young professionals that are going to establish roots in the area. It is no secret that land in Weston is relatively cheaper than, say land downtown. This developer should be obligated to incorporate spacious 3 bedroom units for growing families, for instance – instead of the inevitable shoebox design to come. This is where the local representative can step up, but she won’t, and in the end we will all be paying the price.

  4. The previous design was much better instead of this behemoth of a tower. As Y.S.W. indicated, it’s very important to attract young professionals to our area. The key is to improve the area not just slap up another rental building.

  5. Another question worth asking here, quite apart from the condos vs. rentals debate, is whether the high-rise model of development is appropriate under any circumstances in Weston.

    To my mind, it is stale by about 40 years, with no justifiable benefit.The current planning consensus (for what it’s worth) is that more dispersed mid-rise development is preferable, because there is less pressure on infrastructure and services. The fact that there are already a lot of highrises is not an argument, because huge amounts of low-rent property is without any question, a problem, and this proposal makes that problem worse.

    The artscape part is a sideshow, and the space for the farmer’s market will become an ill-maintained afterthought. The proposal seems to allocate less overall area to the market, which will stymie any further chance of expansion.

  6. Hold on?
    Quick look through google shows a number of vacancies throughout Weston.
    33 King has 2 bedroom apartments for $1200….yet this 30 storey tower will charge $1500?
    The Farmers concerns are being ignored, so you can say bye to the farmers market.
    I never heard of resident group being cozy with a developer……how folks can think this is a Weston game changer is beyond my understanding. Why because of Artscape? Has anyone actually been to any of the Artscape facilities?

  7. If people don´t want another rental tower in the neighbourhood, they´ll have to appy tons of pressure as this seems to be a done deal. Apparently building lots of towers before was a mistake but now it´s somehow different.

  8. I was born and raised in Weston. If you were to look at the difference in how rentals are tended to compared to condos you will see that those who own usually take pride in their investments. Now this is not to say renters do not also but there is less of a turnover in condominiums and if they are rented out by the owners said owners take care to protect their investments.

    Weston was always a beautiful and inviting place to grow up and live. So was the Jane and Finch area back when. We should learn from that and realize in order for our future to continue in a positive and productive manner it is our young people who will lead the way. They do not want to move into an area that is depressed, unkempt and unsafe. They want like all of us to be able to go to parks, shop locally and enjoy the area they live in.

    Please think about the future and not making a quick buck from building this apartment. It will only make things worse. Where are the people you have voted to represent you? Are they really listening?!

  9. I am shocked that this development is being pushed by the councillor, the resident group and BIA….I can’t believe because its “associated” with Artscape they are accepting the developers plans. Rentals are everywhere in Weston and have done nothing to improve the area. But hey, I guess throw in some starving artists and all is going to change. Sorry but bad decisions were made in the past and continue to be made.

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