A 12-storey, 241-unit condominium proposed for 250 Lawrence Ave. W. will appear before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) at the end of May with the full force of city council, two nearby condominium corporations, four residents’ associations, and more than 80 neighbours against it.
According to residents, the cause of their vitriol is simple: the proposal is too tall and too dense for the site one block east of Avenue Road, just outside the borders covered by the 2008 Avenue Road Avenue Study, which recommended no building along Avenue Road rise above seven storeys.
“The proposal does not fit into the landscape of the neighbourhood,” resident Andrew Baise told Streeter. He said the neighbourhood would welcome a “reasonable” proposal such as the seven-storey condominium at nearby 1717 Avenue Rd.
“[1717 Avenue Rd.] is a very nice building,” he said. “It’s predominantly brick, set back towards the residential neighbourhood, and blends into its surrounding area nicely. The building they’ve proposed is made of glass, has almost no setback, and encroaches on the [nearby Douglas] Greenbelt [Ravine].”
The Lawrence site is currently the location of the three-storey Lawrence Park Medical Centre.
A March 17 report from city staff cites multiple concerns with the proposal. It notes none of the buildings nearby exceed eight storeys, But it also raises points about public access to the Douglas Ravine, the needed replacement of an on-site storm sewer (which developer Graywood Developments has offered to cover), and the precedent it would set for future developments.
Graywood has proposed an L-shaped apartment building with a 5.5-metre setback along the west side, a 5.65-metre setback along the south, a 24.9-metre setback along the east, and parkland along the north that connects with the Greenbelt. The developer has also proposed realigning a stormwater pipe that currently flows southeast so that it flows along the new building’s eastern edge.
In addition to suggesting wider setbacks along the south and west, the report notes that in its current form Graywood’s proposal does not adequately step down to accommodate the height of its two-storey residential neighbour at 232 Lawrence Ave. W.
“The height, scale and density of the proposed apartment building on site is not appropriate given its adjacency to a Neighbourhoods designation to the east and the ravine to the north,” the report says.
Though Graywood is pursuing an apartment neighbourhood designation for the site, its current neighbourhood designation allows for a floor square index (FSI) of 0.6 — a far cry from the proposal’s 3.6.
An April 3 submission to city council from the two boards of directors behind the nearby Bedford Glen condominiums at 1555 Avenue Rd. and 40 Sylvan Valleyway echoes both the city and Baise’s concerns, citing issues with the proposal’s massing and scale, 12-storey height, setback from the Douglas Greenbelt, and relocation of the site’s existing stormwater infrastructure.
“We see no precedent for this in the currently approved developments, no plan guidelines supporting a variation such as is being proposed, and only negative implications for the general living conditions our owners (and their neighbours) would experience,” the directors write.
Ward 16 Councillor Christin Carmichael Greb has added her voice to the chorus, calling the proposal “way too dense for the area” and noting that “even after a very heated public meeting last year,” Graywood has made few meaningful changes.
“They just kept moving forward,” she said.
In a March 29 email, submitted on behalf of Graywood, Overland LLP partner Christopher Tanzola wrote that “while we disagree with the conclusions of the [city] staff report with respect to the planning merits of the proposed development, we believe that the staff report does fairly present the issues that remain to be resolved between [Graywood] and city staff, or … addressed in a hearing at the [OMB].”
The OMB prehearing for 250 Lawrence Ave. W. is scheduled for May 25. A final hearing date has not been set.