Deal struck for Queen/Woodbine condo

A local developer who plans to build a six-storey condo on the northwest corner of Queen and Woodbine has struck a tentative deal that avoids a legal dispute at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Karsten Riedel, a Beach resident and developer of the project called Two Hundred the Beach, is said to have found a compromise with city staff and a group of Beach residents’ associations who had opposed the condo for exceeding a set of new urban design guidelines for Queen Street East.

Not all details of the deal were made public by press time, but it is said to include a wider sidewalk along Queen, a 0.9-metre step-back above the condo’s fourth floor, a review of the building façade, and a parking garage that exits to a rear lane rather than onto Woodbine Avenue.

Like the One Rainsford development to the west of the site, the 29-unit condo would feature ground-floor retail, which the developer has agreed will be no larger than 325 square metres unless it is used for services such as a bank.

“The final design almost meets all the guidelines,” said Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, noting that Riedel made significant changes, and the plans are now very close to the approved design of One Rainsford.

“Of course, we know that if we went to the OMB and lost we would get nothing.”

Indeed, said Jan Hykamp, president of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association, opponents of the plan may have got something worse than nothing – another OMB precedent that runs counter to the small-town feel they want to preserve along Queen.

In December, the city and the GBNA lost all but a few concessions after a similar OMB hearing into a larger six-storey condo planned by Queen EMPC Six Ltd. for the former Shell gas station site on the northeast corner of Queen and Woodbine.

In that decision, OMB member Blair Taylor found that the new Beach urban design guidelines championed by Councillor McMahon and the GBNA do not have the strength of a legal statute.

On Feb. 25, council directed city planners to further strengthen the Beach design guidelines by adding some of the provisions to Toronto’s Official Plan. The move follows a vote by city council last spring to move parts of the guidelines into a city bylaw. But that bylaw was appealed by Queen EMPC Six, and in any case was voted in too late to apply to either of the Queen and Woodbine condo proposals.

Calls to the sales office for Two Hundred the Beach were not returned by press time, but in a deputation to city council last spring, Riedel said that to be fair, his proposal should be weighed against the planning guidelines that were in place when he made it.

After months of talks with city staff, Riedel stepped down his original proposal from eight to six storeys, and he filed a rezoning application to the city in March 2012.

That was more than six months before council formally adopted the new Beach urban design guidelines drawn up after several public meetings held that summer.

McMahon said the next step in strengthening those guidelines, the Official Plan amendment, is “pretty darn strong,” though it could be made one step stronger by declaring the Beach stretch of Queen Street East a Heritage Conservation District.

“We were very disappointed with the Shell site results, and we always knew that, as we said before, there was wiggle room with these two properties,” she said, referring to the fact that both developers filed for rezonings before the guidelines were adopted.

Still, McMahon said city planning staff were surprised the guidelines were given such little weight in the OMB decision on the Shell site.

“The OMB is basically a crapshoot – it’s always unpredictable,” said McMahon, who has voted in favour of removing Toronto from OMB jurisdiction.

Other ward councillors have started citizen-led urban design guidelines modeled on the Beach’s, McMahon said, noting that some will likely push for Official Plan amendments after the Shell site decision.

Hykamp agrees that the experience at Queen and Woodbine points to a larger issue with the OMB, which he said often allows development beyond what city planners recommend. The GBNA met recently with local NDP MPP Michael Prue to advocate for a change to how Ontario handles real-estate appeals.

“OMB reform is a huge mountain of an issue, and it continues to be a big influence on what happens with development,” he said.

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LOL! Are Councillor McMahon and city staff as big dupes as they seem?

“a 0.9-metre step-back above the condo’s fourth floor, a review of the building façade, and a parking garage that exits to a rear lane rather than onto Woodbine Avenue” and “Riedel stepped down his original proposal from eight to six storeys”.

The developer has been marketing a building with these attributes for about two years! Check out the development’s website!

Ask for something outrageous and you will get exactly what you want from the city!

Great building and a real improvement for Queen Street and the Beach by the way!

My God – is Joe McNulty beginning to make a tiny bit of sense now and again?

“Ask for something outrageous and you will get exactly what you want from the city!” – exactly!

The 0.9m setback is new – but it only affect about a 5m long portion of one floor, and is on the 5th floor unlike the other condos.

This is not a “great building” – another glass box with the horrible, cliched, drab grey brick that is being used on the LCBO, One Rainsford and every other condo in this city… ugh!

Brian – not all condos are going for grey brick – check out the 60 (SIXTY) unit condo on Kippendavie… looking north from Buller avenue it’s a gigantic 5 storey wall of BLACK cladding and glass. Hmmm, I wonder is the real beaches precedent is the mega condo on Kippendavie? If they can build a 60 unit condo on a beaches side-street shattering all zoning rules and City Plan, how can we expect to defend a “small town feel on Queen East? Perhaps the greater beaches might have given a care to what was being done to this neighbourhood – our only option was to raise lawyer fees out of our own pockets and fight the OMB. McMahon was absolutely useless.

Well, all of the “modernist” condos seem to use the same grey brick – of course, it is not 100% of condos, it just seems like it.

Look at the new condos at Dundas and Carlaw, or the Carmelina on the Danforth.

Who needs colour photograhy when increasing this city is filled with buildings that use a drab grey palette so that it looks like we are already living a black and white photo.

And Brian, outrageous in reasonable terms is asking for eight stories, notwithstanding the views of the GBNA and its sympathizers who view anything over three stories as being outrageous.

You’re right Brian. We must all accept your esthetics when it comes to brick colour and save beautiful Beach buildings like the Lick’s building and Coffee Time.

BTW, there is no grey brick on One Rainsford.

And Kippendavie, get over it. Take a walk down your namesake street and see what a mess it is. About 50% of the homes are tear downs. The condo building is a beautiful addition to that street and is not out of character with surrounding buildings – in fact it is a vast improvement on them.

There is grey brick on One Rainsford – mostly evident on the Rainsford side. The design is a joke – it has all these huge picture windows into people’s living rooms, and so to maintain privacy they always keep the blinds down!

And stop twisting things – I never said that everyone has to accept “all” my aesthetics, or even some of them. I am merely voicing my opinion and hoping that others might agree or find them thought-provoking.

You seem to think that anyone who disagrees with you is a some sort of raving lunatic or extremist, and you are the only voice of reason.

Hey Brian, try charcoal brick on the ground level. And we’ll ask the folks who live there to keep their blinds open24 hours a day so that you can see in. What a ridiculous criticism! Let me asure you, nothing that you say is thought provoking.

Where is your house. I’d love to come by and give a critique of its design esthetics and see whether or not your blinds are open.

Joe – I agree, nice upgrade to the neighbourhood and a nice new home for many new beachers.

Seems like the anti-development gang in the beach has really lost their voice and their way as their strategy of fighting all development (single family homes included) and making outrageous demands with the condos is being seen as what it really is, more NIMBY’sim!

Toronto is changing folks, and so will the beach!

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