City staff approve of large development at Weston and Little

City staff have recommended approval of the large development at 1956-1986 Weston Road and 1-5 Little Avenue. The development will be considered by Etobicoke York Community Council on June 27.

If approved, one of the buildings will have 35 storeys—up from 29 storeys in the 2019 plan—and be the tallest in Weston. The other will have 29 storeys. Together they will have 733 condominium units, up from 592 three years ago.

In the past, the development was opposed by staff, the Weston Village Residents’ Association, and community members, who said, among other things, it was too tall, too dense, too ugly, too close to the property line, and would cast too long a shadow.

Some of those concerns have been addressed. The buildings, while taller, take up less of the property. One of the buildings has been “reconfigured from the original proposal and pulled further back on the site, and angled away from Weston Road. This was to provide a stronger pedestrian perception area”.

Also, the developers have agreed to build a 3,400 square foot “non-profit community cultural space located on the ground floor of the existing heritage building at 3 & 5 Little Avenue” for the city.

However, issues remain. The 2019 staff report said the buildings “would result in a bulky, overwhelming presence which would not fit in with the surrounding area nor provide adequate transition in height to the surrounding properties”. The developers made some design concessions, but the buildings still seem overwhelming to me.

Staff also said “[we] suggest that the northwest portion of the site be re-designed to be a mid-rise building”. That, clearly, hasn’t happened. The shorter tower remains 29 storeys high.

Staff had concerns about shadows, particularly “regarding the shadow impacts on Little Avenue Memorial Park”. The new report doesn’t address the effects on the park—which presumably remain—but says shadows will fall on Weston Common (erroneously called the Weston Hub) at least some of the year for part of the day.

Other reasoning in the report is odd. For instance, the author says “although Tower A has a larger floorplate than typically recommended, it is in keeping with the existing built form context and is complemented by Tower B having a varied and generally smaller tapered floorplate.”

Even if a large tall tower were complemented by a smaller tall tower—which, honestly, I don’t get—there is a large, 12-storey podium joining the two towers, and the tower floorplate is invisible at ground level. Nobody will see the putative complement except from the air.

The development is also scheduled to be considered by City Council on July 19.

Important planning meeting

It’s been a while since we last heard from the Greenland Farms developers. Now, the city has scheduled a meeting to discuss two very large buildings they propose for the corner of Little Avenue and Weston down to the Dollarama.

Despite opposition from city planners and the community, the owners seem to be proposing to increase the size and height of the development. They want one tower to be 35 storeys (up from 29) and to the number of apartments from 592 to 739. (Those numbers were, in turn, an increase from a single 28-storey building.)

From UrbanToronto.

The meeting will be June 27 at the Etobicoke York Community Council, starting around 9:45 a.m.. The meeting will also be streamed live. You can give feedback or register to speak by email: [email protected]

The future of Crossroads Plaza?

One of the enduring mysteries of Weston is why the Crossroads Plaza is so empty. We may have an answer. According to Matt Elliott’s newsletter, SmartCentres REIT has been lobbying “for rezoning to permit residential and other uses” at many of their properties, including the one in Weston.

However, any development may be some ways off. Elliott says “some of the [company’s] properties have public development plans, while others still seem to be in the very early stages”. I, for one, haven’t seen any plans for the plaza.

The city database says that Frances Nunziata’s office has had four communications about the plaza with the VP of Corporate Affairs, Julie O’Driscoll.

11 storey building at 971 Weston proposed

The city has received an application to demolish the building at 971 Weston Road as part of a plan to build two 11-storey buildings on the lot that runs from 955–975 Weston Road, at the edge of Mount Dennis. The building is presently vacant.

The buildings would contain 617 rental units.

From the application

City staff have identified a number of issues to be resolved, including

  • Whether the plan aligns with the new Mount Dennis Planning Framework
  • “The proposed height, built form, massing, transition and scale of the towers and base building in relation to the existing and planned built form context of the area”
  • Whether the rents will be affordable
  • “The mix and size of dwelling units;”
  • Indoor and outdoor amenity space;
  • The quality of the building materials

Etobicoke York Community Council will consider the demolition application and a community consultation on April 19.

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6 large developments posted

Six new developments were posted to the city’s planning site on one of the rare occasions it was working.

The ones I noted before the site stopped functioning were:

1–9 Oxford Dr:

The proposed development will have a podium element with ground-level units. The podium will rise to 4 storeys as the street wall height, with the 5th and 6th storeys stepped back from the street. The tower portion will step back further and sit atop the podium and rise to 26 storeys. The building will have 3 levels of underground parking with a vehicle access from Oxford Drive on the south side of the site. Service vehicles will access from Oxford Drive on the north side of the site.

There is no image of the proposed development that I can find. The site is currently residential houses.

1736–1746 Weston Road: Hickory Tree Tower, on the site of the Starfish Carribean Market.

Image from A1

From Google.

The proposal consists of a 25-storey mixed use building with a 6-storey podium. The building will have a total GFA of 19,900.03 sq.m. to produce a Floor Space Index of 10.8 times the lot area. Of the total GFA an allotted 420.12 sq.m. will be for retail space located at grade fronting onto Weston Road. Zoning By-law Amendment application to permit a 25-storey mixed use building with a 7-storey podium, containing 253 residential units. The building will have a Floor Space Index of 10.8 times the lot area, a residential Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 18,914.26 m² and a non-residential GFA of 472.15 m² for retail space located at grade fronting onto Weston Road.

300, 310, 320, and 330 Sidney Belsey Crescent.

A “proposed development of 4 residential apartment buildings” with no other details.

The site is currently a field.

From Google

If you, like me, find it hard to keep track of all the changes in Weston and Mount Dennis, I’ve made a map of all the proposed large buildings.

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Article in The Star on YIMBYs in Mount Dennis

The Toronto Star has a long article on the Picture Mount Dennis Planning Framework and the changes coming to Mount Dennis.

The lack of investment in Mount Dennis is readily apparent. Many businesses near the former plant are struggling or have closed, as you can see when you drive south on Weston Road, a major street in Mount Dennis that has a number of boarded-up shops.

But a comprehensive new 223-page “Picture Mount Dennis Planning Framework” based on input from local residents, business owners, local non-profits and community groups, aims to change that narrative, as Mount Dennis is about to turn into one of the most transit-connected parts of the city.

Overall, the framework document calls for more development and density for the Mount Dennis community. Residents and businesses in the area say they’re open to that and hope to parlay it into local investment and community benefits that other parts of Toronto enjoy.