Queen proposal gets first airing

About 60 people crowded into a hot and smelly room in the Beaches Rec Centre on June 13 to participate in a Community Consultation Meeting on a planning application for 1960/1962 Queen St. E. And while many in the room admitted that the proposed building was beautiful, a number were equally concerned that the proposal, as one meeting goer said, “would be great downtown, but not in the Beach.”

The proposed development is a six-storey condominium containing 29 units. There would be retail at grade and underground parking.

Access to the parking would be from the existing driveway behind what is now Lick’s.

While the as-of-right height for Queen Street is four storeys (12 m), explained project manager Craig Hunter, the development is within the city’s midrise guidelines for avenues such as Queen. Hunter said that because the fifth and sixth storeys are angled back, the impression from the street is of a four story building.

He pointed out that there are other examples of six storey buildings being approved in this area of Queen Street, the latest being 1 Rainsford.

Local historian Gene Domagala said that such a ‘glass cubicle’ might be fine on Bloor Street but  would take away from the impact of the many historic buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of the proposed development.

Another person spoke about his fear that Queen Street would become just another “canyon” with walls of tall buildings on either side.

Another objected to the fact that, with a single storey building to the east, the view would be of a five story blank wall.

However not everyone was against the proposal. One person at the meeting said  that the plan was “intelligent…this is where intensification should be.”

The developers, Shane and Shelley Fenton of Reserve Properties, believe that the site at Kenilworth and Queen is a “perfect location.” Flushed with success after a quick sell out of their Bellefair Church development, the Fentons said that the proposal was developed under “professional guidance to create something special.”

Shelley noted that in Toronto, the development of a site “is a process.”

“We are respective of people’s opinions, and we listen to what they have to say.”

Shane noted, however, that many of the pre-sales on the building (called Lakehouse) are from locals, who are looking for this kind of development in their own neighbourhood.

Shelley said that the Beach BIA has also been supportive.

At the meeting, Senior Planner Leontine Major said that the proposal was still making the rounds of different department for comments, and a final report report would not be issued until everyone had a chance to comment.

While many people expressed a fear that this development would lead to many similar buildings being constructed along Queen, Major said that there were very few location along Queen which could be developed in this manner.

One of the things that the Fentons did want to make clear was that they were making every effort to find another nearby location for Lick’s.

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I think we all know what this means. It is the beginning of the end of Queen Street in the Beach. I’m sure every developer in town would like to exploit the charm of our neighbourhood, but in doing so they will destroy that charm. They will then move on to ruin another neighbourhood, leaving us with nothing but a street full of identical glass boxes to replace the Queen Street that we and the visitors to the area love. I fear that it is too late to stop this one, but it is clear we must dig in our heels and shout `No More` at the next developer who comes knocking at our door trying to convince us that another generic condo is `something special.`

I agree with P. Harris. It IS the beginning of the end for Queen Street. The charm of our neighborhood is being destroyed, bit by bit, slowly and surely. One has only ot imagine what Queen & Columbine is going to look like. Well, right now, the north side where the track used to be is a concrete jungle. Nobody wants to walk there. You may as well be smack downtown in the canyons between the buildings. When Rainsford is done, and of course it will be done, I’m sure they would not start digging etc if they didn’t already have ‘silent’ approval, the whole area of Queen there will rival the canyons of downtown. These canyons will then creep and spread east for as far as it can go – Neville. Our Beach will be destroyed.

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