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Unique Toronto Homes

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Condos in Toronto

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Toronto Real Estate

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Condo tower plan alarms critics

City intensifying transit corridor, but some residents near Sheppard line disagree

Excerpt from an article by Paul Moloney – Toronto Star

Several enormous condo projects underway or proposed along the Sheppard subway line in North York demonstrate the plan in action. And not everyone is happy about the construction cranes populating the Sheppard corridor.Some fear the trend will spread across other parts of the city as Toronto seeks to intensify usage of other main streets from Scarborough to Etobicoke.

“Generally the strategy in the official plan is to encourage development where the transportation exists,” he said. “On Sheppard, the strategy obviously is to develop there – you don’t build a subway and keep two-storey buildings on Sheppard.”

“The development is going where it fits,” said Councillor Brian Ashton. “You build bigger densities there and when you go to Kingston Rd. or Avenue Rd. or Wilson Ave. you build on a scale that complements a community and doesn’t destroy it.”

The first wave of North York development was along Yonge St. from Highway 401 north to Finch Ave. Spurred by the opening of the $933 million Sheppard subway line four years ago, the second and newest wave is along Sheppard from Yonge St. to Leslie St.

Filion has been a critic of the development plans, first pushed by former North York Mayor Mel Lastman, ever since he was first elected as a councillor 15 years ago.

The centrepiece of the North York development is the site of the old Canadian Tire warehouse, near the IKEA store, visible to motorists driving westbound on Highway 401 between Leslie and Bayview Ave.

The giant warehouse is soon to be knocked down to make way for 3,974 housing units. The 16-hectare property was recently purchased for $149.7 million by Concord Adex Investments, the same people building condo towers in the downtown railway lands west of Rogers Centre.

“This is the biggest residential project in the history of North York,” said Dennis Au Yeung, vice-president and chief financial officer for Concord Adex.

The development, approved by city council in late 2002, was comprehensively planned with tall buildings sited along the 401 side and shorter buildings along Sheppard, said Councillor David Shiner, who represents the area.

Farther east, also south of Sheppard but closer to Yonge St., is a proposal for 1,195 units in five towers ranging from 15 to 21 storeys, plus townhouses on a 3.9-hectare site off Oakburn Cres.

And at the southeast corner of Yonge and Sheppard, Willowdale Plaza would be razed in favour of two towers, 37 and 45 storeys, and a five-store retail/residential block with a total of 825 units under a proposal for the 1.5-hectare site by condominium developer Tridel. In all, the three projects would bring some 6,000 condo units with almost 11,000 residents.

“I think the development is a positive,” said Ashton. “With the 401 on one side and the Sheppard subway on the other, you’ve got a whole strip of land. If you’re going to intensify, that’s the Garden of Eden.”

Some residents, however, appear overwhelmed. Bernie Morton, the past president of the 5,000-member Avondale Community Condominium Association, says the area is clogged with rush-hour traffic.

The association, whose members live in condo towers and townhouses near Yonge and 401, opposes the Oakburn project to the east due to traffic, Morton said.

The planners, meanwhile, emphasize that the plans were finalized after extensive analysis of the road and transit system.”That’s one of the things the North York Centre plan does extremely well,” said planner Paul Byrne.
The area is blessed with transit, said Victoria Witkowski, transportation planning manager for the North York District. Most of the new residents along Yonge St. are within a 10-minute walk of one of three subway stations, Finch, North York Centre and Sheppard on the Yonge line, Witkowski said.

The city plans eventually to extend Anndale Dr. to Yonge St., providing a new route for residents south and east of the Yonge and Sheppard intersection.

“The Anndale link would take pressure off Avondale, where people are having a hard time getting out to Yonge St.,” she said.

Read the full story
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