NEWS March 18th, 2002

By Robert Saffer

Midtown co-op building seeks ‘condo’ status

A public meeting will be held to discuss the condo-conversion process about to take place

Co-Owners of Gloucester Gate Residences’ bid to convert from an apartment building to condominiums is underway and likely to pass through city council in February.

"They’ve applied to convert from apartments to condominiums because the ownership is changing. What I understand is that there are issues around financing of the units and managing the property and also a legislative framework for managing the property that needs to be addressed," said Toronto city planner Kyle Knoeck.

Now the tenants living at 30 Gloucester St. are attempting to have the law changed.

The city’s official plan prohibits conversion of buildings that were originally constructed as rental apartment buildings to condominiums — as long as the vacancy rate in the city is less than 2.5 per cent.

So the 253-unit apartment-building co-owners have to make an application to amend the official plan because of the existing policy.

Official Plan Amendment II, which is council’s latest direction on the Rental Housing Protection Act, would provide exceptions for co-ownership to convert to condominiums, providing that the building meets certain conditions.

"I’m in support of it," said Toronto – Centre Councillor Kyle Rae (Ward 27), because it’s not a market co-op. "People, who live there, own it. It’s an anomalous building. It’s been co-owned for 20 years."

Rae said a ‘co-ownership’ refers to a large number of people who own shares of a conversion formula developed in the mid-’80s when condominiums were fairly new to the city.

At its core, co-ownership’s were primarily created to allow each individual the rights to home ownership without the substantial costs associated with a typical condominium. The difference from a condominium and a co-op is that people don’t own their own units, they own a share of the property.

"The reason Co-Owners of Gloucester Gate Residences applied for the official plan amendment is because OPA II isn’t in effect. If it were, then there would be provisions in the official plan to guide conversions of co-ownership buildings, like the one on Gloucester," said Knoeck.

"It’s not about taxes that they’re doing this — people who own a unit in a co-ownership building have a horrible time financing their unit," said Rae. "Somebody, who wants to buy it, has trouble getting a mortgage and they become stuck for life, and that’s why I’m in support of it, because it frees up the process. A lot of condos downtown are rental. There are very few buildings like this in the city."