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.

Townhomes on old Beer Store site.

The town homes with the single entrance and exit on Weston Road.
Developer’s impression of the townhomes with their single entrance and exit on Weston Road.

On Wednesday evening, approximately 25 residents witnessed a presentation from architect Alex Boros and developer Jack Morelli hosted by Councillor Frances Nunziata. The topic was the dismal site at 2059 – 2069 Weston Road that once housed Weston’s beer store along with the adjoining property to the rear that a generation ago, hosted white clad Weston lawn bowlers. Developer Jack Morelli mentioned the pollution that has delayed development of the property has been cleaned up but as yet the Ontario Ministry of the Environment hasn’t certified the site. The meeting wasn’t official so invites (2000 according to the councillor) were sent to a wider audience.

As anticipated, this little slice of Weston Road will be positively festooned with town homes; 38 of them will be shoehorned onto the site with living spaces of 1400 – 1800 square feet and will be marketed to prospective punters in the low $400,000 range. City of Toronto planner, Natasha Lang mentioned that as with any development, plans go back and forth for amendments but that the latest plan hadn’t yet been seen at city hall. She mentioned that previous incarnations of the plan had failed to meet city standards in several areas including rear yard space as well as driveway and sidewalk widths.

Residents mentioned the already crowded conditions at H.J. Alexander school which abuts the site as well as concerns with lack of amenity space and the sole entrance to the development from Weston Road. Councillor Nunziata chimed in at this point to declare, ‘We’re looking at putting a recreation facility at Weston and Lawrence’. This might be wishful thinking.

Westonites obviously aren’t overly concerned as the turnout was relatively sparse considering that 2000 invitations were allegedly distributed by Canada Post. Any development will be an improvement over an empty, weed infested, contaminated site. We also get that density will be increasing. However, Weston doesn’t want or need another supply of problem housing simply because the quest for short term profit is allowed to trump community building. The developers responsible for the mess that is Weston Road pocketed their money and disappeared long ago leaving all of us to cope with the resulting fallout.

Let’s do this one right for a change.