Bigger isn’t always better.
For Terracap, the developer of 1421 Yonge Street, they found that out the hard way when they presented a much larger 47-storey mixed use building at an Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearing Aug. 2.
In June 2015, Terracap proposed a 42-storey building that was met with ire at a community consultation meeting. But the addition of five extra storeys has floored many, including Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow, who met with the commercial real estate firm before the Aug. 2 meeting.
“The high 40s is just completely out of whack with reality,” he told the Town Crier. “It would set a very dangerous precedent for Yonge and St. Clair because it would give a signal to other developers that Yonge and St. Clair is the new Yonge and Eglinton. And that’s not the city’s plan for it.”
Upon hearing the new proposal, Matlow said he quickly adjourned the meeting and “respectfully escorted them to the door.”
“This is the first time this has ever happened,” he said of the developer coming back with a larger proposal. “It’s remarkable.”
Erik Heinrich, a community organizer and long-term resident of area, echoed Matlow’s sentiments, adding Terracap’s proposal is a pivotal application, and given the OMB’s penchant for approving larger-than-planned developments, could overwhelm the community.
“It’s hard to understand why the OMB would hear a proposal that is so far offside and against the wishes of not only the residents of Yonge-St. Clair, but also city planning officials and (Matlow),” he said. “If it’s approved the OMB will be sending the message that there are no rules for developers in Toronto.”
‘New life’ for Yonge and St. Clair
For Terracap’s vice president of real estate, Shawn Fujiki, the new proposal was part of a trial-and-error process.
He acknowledged height was an issue, but Terracap wanted to hear feedback from Matlow before moving ahead. The additional five storeys were added due to a potential demand for office space in the area.
“It’s really not for us to predict whether residents will have a problem with it or not,” he said. “We really didn’t know how anyone would take it until we presented it.”
Slate Assets Management owns eight commercial buildings in the neighbourhood, and Terracap has worked closely with them to come up with a vision for Yonge and St. Clair.
“We really like what they’re doing and we’ve discussed with them to incorporate an overall design aesthetic for the main intersection and have it work its way south,” Fujiki said.
Still, he added Terracap is not ignorant of the community’s concerns.
“We’re excited about bringing some new life to Yonge and St. Clair,” he said. “I think it’s an exciting time for the neighbourhood, and hopefully building long-term relationships with the community.”