10 Wilby apartments: zoning amendment and Section 37.

Toronto City Council and its local equivalent, Etobicoke York Community Council is a strange beast. Its decisions often leave people scratching their heads. This time they’ve managed to do something right. You’d think it was an election year or something.

On July 4, the Community Council dealt with rezoning the land at 10 Wilby. Readers may remember that non-profit builder, Options for Homes has proposed a 22-story, 233-unit condo apartment building at that location. OFH prides itself on making home ownership affordable. What they do is supplement an owner’s down-payment by up to $75,000 so that the mortgage is reduced. When the owner eventually sells, OFH gets back their contribution along with a proportional increase if the apartment has appreciated in value. As a tradeoff, features like swimming pools and gyms are eliminated so that prices are held down.

The address of 10 Wilby is an interesting one as it is at the top of the Humber Valley with potential access to parkland and the Pan Am Path. Our longer term residents may remember it as the former site of the Ministry of Transportation licence office.

The 10 Wilby site as it appears today. Hickory Tree curves around the corner. Wilby Crescent is on the left. The Humber Valley lies beyond the trees and informal (but steep) trails lead down to beautiful parkland, the river, the Humber footbridge and the Pan Am Path.

10 Wilby is above a curve in the river so views from the new building’s upper floors will be spectacular.

As an added bonus, Weston GO and UP Express stations are a short walk away.

From Toronto.ca

In order to erect a building on the smallish Wilby site, a land swap was arranged with the business opposite so that there was enough room to meet code requirements.  In rare and sensible use of Section 37 money, the Community Council on Wednesday approved rezoning and a plan that would see OFH donate and spend $800,000 in order to:

  • Make a cul-de-sac at the end of Wilby
  • Build a sidewalk along Wilby and connect it to Weston Road
  • Plant 25 new trees on the property and adjacent city land
  • Convert the Hickory Tree Road lands abutting the subject property to parkland conditions
  • Improve local parkland and connectivity of local parkland to the Humber River valley; and
  • Provide streetscape improvements along Wilby Crescent, Weston Road and Hickory Tree Road which comply with the Streetscape Manual and are to the satisfaction of the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning.
  • Perform an archeological study

The Community Council also thought it would be prudent to warn purchasers that local schools may not be able to accommodate pupils from the building.

The section of Hickory Tree Road that will be naturalized. The 10 Wilby site is on the right.
The proposed naturalization of the land opposite the site. From Toronto.ca

For readers who are puzzled by the site actually being on Hickory Tree Road yet having the 10 Wilby address; you’re not alone. The comments following this earlier article may help.

Incidentally, there was one dissenting vote opposing the rezoning amendment; that of Ward 7’s very own (and almost Brampton MPP), Giorgio Mammoliti.

Next stop, City Council on July 23.

No smoking at 10 Wilby.

10 Wilby Crescent – artists concept.

Anticipating the impending legalizing of marijuana, Options For Homes announced on Friday that it will ban smoking anywhere inside or on the property of its new 22 storey condo apartment at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Non-smokers who live in apartments already may know that stale cigarette smell can drift insidiously through conduits and other gaps between apartments. The impending legality of marijuana has prompted OFH to get ahead of the game and ensure a smoke-free environment for occupants. Vaping will be allowed – so it’s not a complete ban.

Re-writing an existing condominium corporation’s declaration to ban smoking in a building is a major undertaking requiring an 80% vote of owners in favour. Options For Homes feels that starting off with a no smoking ban will put the condo board ahead of the game and make the issue up front so that purchasers can make an informed decision. OFH claims that 75% of prospective purchasers are more likely to purchase in a smoke-free building.

Apparently landlords of rental buildings can ban smoking in all or part of a building and a rental building can eventually become smoke free by requiring new tenants to not smoke. Existing tenancy agreements must be honoured but once the smoker leaves, landlords can insist on no smoking from the new occupants.

Options for homes believe that their new smoke-free building will be a first for Toronto. Read more here.

Options For Homes: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston.

Options for homes has written an article entitled, ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston’. It’s a nice tribute to the area where they will be erecting a 22-storey, 233 unit building at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Read the article here.

Readers, do  you agree? What did they miss? I’d like to correct the 15 minute time to Union – it’s actually 14 minutes and while we’re timing things, 11 to Pearson and only 6 minutes to Bloor.

The Masonic Building at 2040 Weston Road. (Google Maps)

Personally, I’m fascinated by the mysterious Mason’s building at 2040 Weston Road. I’d love to get a tour one day.

City approves housing loans/grants to 10 Wilby

The city approved housing an innovative home ownership plan to be used at 10 Wilby, in Weston. $750,000 has been set aside to help 30 homebuyers with down payments, loans that will be repaid when the homes are sold or are vacated.

10 Wilby is to have 22 storeys and 233 units, and will be much taller than initially envisioned.

10 Wilby keeps on growing

The original concept for 10 Wilby; 10-storeys and 131 units.

‘Riverstone Condos’ was to be a 10-storey building on Wilby Crescent, just off Weston Road, south of Lawrence. Many people put down deposit money back in 2013 in the hopes of getting an affordable condominium apartment in a beautifully designed 10-storey building overlooking parkland and the Humber. Hopes were dashed when the project fell through as prices were considerably higher in the proposed Riverstone than for existing condos on nearby Hickory Tree.

In October 2016 the project was revived, this time it was to be 234 units in 16 storeys and the building (and common amenities) not quite so architecturally splendid.

The 16-storey, 233 unit re-incarnation.

A year later and the project became 21 storeys and 235 units.

21 Storeys 235 units.

Now, according to Urban Toronto, a public relations organ for the local real estate and development industries, it’s going to be 22 storeys with 233 units. The article states rental units (not that there’s anything wrong with rental) however, Options For Homes confirmed that the units will be condos and not rentals.

Now 22 storeys, 233 units.

Stay tuned. This may not be the final version.

Finally, last time we wrote about changes in the building design and height, Options For Homes sales director, Mary Pattison wrote the following and we’ll give her the last word:

Hi – this is Mary from Options for Homes. I would be more than happy to tell you why I’m so proud to work at Options for Homes and why I think this new building will be a positive addition to your neighbourhood. Please reach out directly at maryp@optionsforhomes.ca. In the meantime, it’s helpful to understand two things:

1) We make home ownership affordable, not “affordable housing” (in the way that I think you’re referring to) Over the past 24 years we’ve often been at the forefront of the revitalization of neighbourhoods (eg. Distillery District, The Junction). We help middle-income Canadians (HHI 40-90K) with down payment support to accelerate home ownership dreams and ensure we combine that with the lowest maintenance fees in the city (about .46 a square foot presently).

2) The changes to the design are a function of increasing construction costs (due to demand) and development charges that have more than doubled in the time it’s taken to get the project approved by the city. We agree that it was lovely and we’re very proud of the new design as well.

We’re also proud of this video that shows many of our buildings and you can judge four yourself if this is what you think of when you think “affordable housing”

City considering funding 30 subsidized down payments at 10 Wilby

On March 19, City Council will consider helping 30 new home buyers at 10 Wilby Crescent.

City staff have recommended that $750,000 be put aside to help fund thirty $25,000 down-payment subsidies for condominiums in the new development, which will have 234 homes.

The subsidized down-payments come with strings attached: when the house is sold or is unoccupied, the money must be repaid.

 

New 10 Wilby Crescent developer to try again.

A few years ago, there was a proposal to build a 10-storey, 131 unit apartment building called ‘The Riverstone‘ on 10 Wilby, just at Hickory Tree Road – it claimed with some justification to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house. Readers may remember that the vehicle registration office was on the site some years ago. The proposal generated lots of interest but not enough to get off the ground.

The site at 10 Wilby Crescent. To the left are the existing condos at 1 and 3 Hickory Tree Road.  Adapted from Google Maps.

In their unsuccessful bid, the non-profit developer Neighbourhood Concepts asked and received permission for two extra floors over the permitted 8. Part of the problem was that the adjacent Hickory Tree Road condos were selling for considerably less at the time. Sadly, Owner and CEO of Neighbourhood Concepts, Nancy Hawley died in 2015 and the site  is now owned by another non-profit developer Options For Homes.  They are requesting permission to build a high rise building double the permitted height to 16 storeys and increase the number of apartments to 234. By way of comparison, the condos (see above photo) at 1 and 3 Hickory Tree Road are 19 stories and the two buildings have a total of 413 apartments.

The 2013 concept drawing of the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired 12-storey Riverstone

There are rules already in place about the height and placement of buildings in Weston but specifically for Wilby Crescent:

Due to the anomalous lot shapes and slope profiles, any rezoning and site-plan applications in the Wilby Crescent area will specifically address appropriate siting and built form considerations in a manner compatible with the unique topographic features in the area.

Planners recognize that this is a special area overlooking the Humber, but Options For Homes wants to build taller and wider and closer to the property line / parkland etc. In a February 2016 meeting with OFH, Council expressed issues with the proposed development citing:

…significant concerns with respect to height, massing, configuration of the building at grade, the lack of landscaping, the relationship between the base of the building and the public realm, shadow impacts, the size of the floor plate for floors 11-16 and the lack of differentiation in the materials between the podium and tower components of the proposed building.

Options For Homes apparently engineered a small land swap to make the site more regular. Adding extra height to a building makes each unit more affordable. If you can add more floors to a building, the cost of the foundations, elevators etc. is spread a lot thinner.

The latest proposal is called The Humber.

Bottom line: it’s probably a done deal – especially since the Weston Southern Weston Road Corridor neighbourhood is already zoned for apartment buildings. The problem once again will be finding buyers but this time, the UP Express is operating and is a short walk away, allowing a commute to Union Station in 14 minutes or Pearson’s Terminal One in 12 minutes. Adding to the attractiveness for first time buyers, the units will be sold at cost with an option to have the difference from market value used as a deposit. Any appreciation will be shared between the homeowner and developer once the homeowners sell, along with the return of the deposit. To keep prices even lower, there will be no community amenities such as a pool or sauna.

The proposed building will be discussed at the next Etobicoke York Community Council meeting on January 17. The City’s Planning Department is recommending a community consultation.

By the numbers:

  • Number of Units: 234
  • Height of building 55 metres or 180 feet.
  • Storeys: 16
  • Number of parking spaces – Cars: 161 Bicycles: 235
  • Apartment Types: 14 Batchelor apts.
  • 33 One-bedroom apts. 69 One bedroom plus den apts.
  • 56 Two bedroom apts. 62 Two bedroom plus den apts.