Thanks to everyone who came out on Sunday, May 8th for our Jane’s Walk! The sun was shining as senior partner Cliff Korman led a group of about 40 enthusiastic people west from Yonge street along the soon-to-be redeveloped Sheppard avenue corridor.
Cliff discusses the Hullmark Centre project at the SouthYonge and Sheppard. Photo: Yvonne Bambrick
Cliff began by discussing our upcoming project Hullmark Centre, at the corner of Yonge and Sheppard, which sits above two subway lines and will become the heart of North York City Centre. The development broke ground in November and will be the area’s key mixed-use development, to include a plaza that will dramatically open up the corner to pedestrian traffic.
The group gathers at an empty lot on the North West corner of Yonge and Sheppard. Photo: Yvonne Bambrick
Cliff address the group. Photo: Yvonne Bambrick
As the group progressed along Sheppard, Cliff pointed out that many of the small single-family houses on Sheppard had already been purchased as speculative properties and rented out, whose owners were simply waiting to sell to developers for high land value. There are also many two-storey office buildings along the land that will be put to much better use as high-density, higher rise development.
Kirkor is already at work on a number of projects in the area, including lower-rise condominiums at Sheppard and Faywood and the transit-oriented Metro Place at Sheppard and Dufferin.
Walking west along Sheppard Avenue. Photo: Yvonne Bambrick
The group in front of a two-storey strip mall. Photo: Yvonne Bambrick
The walk came to an end in front of one of North York’s many strip malls, which will soon be replaced with much more intense development, including green spaces, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and less visible parking.
Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to think about green spaces. Landscaping is a much-discussed issue for large-scale re-zonings, and in new developments, a certain amount of land must be set aside for parks. If it isn’t, then developers must pay a parkland dedication fee.
An arial view of the Avonshire community.
Naturally, we prefer to provide the land in the development plans at the beginning. So one solution that we do is to create strata plans, by drawing up the land into lots and common property. We create urban parks on either green or hard surfaces, at grade. The condominium takes ownership of the parks, and takes responsibility for programming it, the developer saves money and the public benefits from it.
Another reason why we prefer this route is that the community always benefits. If we were to choose to pay the fee, then the fee goes to the city, which may decide to build the park elsewhere.
The Aristo towers at Avonshire.
An example of good parkland use is our masterplanned project Avonshire, east of Yonge Street, north of Highway 401, where we built a transition project on a group of almost 300 walk-up apartments that were run-down and non- repairable. We rezoned it to create more density, built a replacement rental unit to house the tenants, and now there’s an eco-friendly park surrounded by the condo residences. Construction on the project is currently well underway. It’s a great project in part because the city got rental replacement.
The land now holds many condo units which the city sold and profited from, and they got a public park too. The development has garden villas and townhomes which border the park, helping to create a cohesive and focused neighbourhood.
There’s an interesting talk that will take place in Toronto next Wednesday, May 11th at the Design Exchange, at 234 Bay Street.
Organized by the PUG Awards, the panel discussion is titled Planning – A Building Challenge. Panelists will discuss the complex planning process that is required to allow large-scale developments to go ahead.
On the one hand, the process can be fraught with difficulty, giving rise to the need for consensus building strategies, a fact that we acknowledged in our talk at Construct Canada on collaborative planning and the art of negotiation.
On the other hand, the complexities of development make the planning process necessary. The panel is moderated by Stephen Diamond of Diamond Corp. and speakers include urban planner Paul Belford, David Bronskill, partner at Goodmans LLP whose practice focuses on municipal, planning and property tax, Howard Cohen of Context Development Inc and Ward 5 councilor Peter Milczyn.
For more information, visit the Pug Awards website.