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.
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.
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.
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.
There was a packed house on Sunday 17th March for the first sales presentation by Neighbourhood Concepts Non Profit Corporation (NCNPC). There is a sales office in the current building at 10 Wilby which will be demolished in August and a ten-storey, 131 unit condominium is planned to open at the end of 2014. The building pays homage to the famous Frank Lloyd Wright ‘Fallingwater‘ house in Western Pennsylvania. Homage is also paid to Humber River stone in the name Riverstone and parts of the building will actually be faced in stone. To keep costs down, amenities such as swimming pools and saunas are not part of the design while geothermal heating will save on energy. There will be a yoga/exercise room on the top floor and a sky terrace with barbecue facilities for residents.
NCNCP President Nancy Hawley maintains that the site choice is a vote of confidence in the many area amenities that Weston has to offer, not least the proximity to the Weston stores, GO station and recreational facilities offered by the Humber trail, parks and the sports complex in Lions Park. NCNCP can offer purchasers a better deal because they are a non-profit corporation and spend little on advertising, preferring flyers and word of mouth. They can also arrange an interest-free loan (up to $48,000) for qualified purchasers to be paid off when the unit is sold.
At the meeting, Hawley mentioned that NCNCP got its start a few years ago with two condos in the Distillery District. At the time, people thought they were crazy to build there but original purchasers have seen their units double in value. Since then, successful projects have been build across the city.
You be the judge:
Construction will begin in August or when the project is 75% sold.