Volume 5, Issue 2, February 2016    

If you live or work in downtown Toronto, Canada, between Parliament and Sherbourne, Carlton and Shuter Streets, then we are your neighbourhood residents' association.  Join us!

Our AGM Meeting will be Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 7:00 pm

Please join us for our next meeting at the Retsina Restaurant 209 Gerrard Street East (near Seaton).

We will launch our 2016 season with a Spring Meeting with the election of an Assoiciation President and Board.  A general meeting will follow with a discussion around what our areas of focus should be for 2016. 

We need volunteers and Board Members for 2016

Again we ask for volunteers willing to help out a couple of hours per month on various projects.  We need help with our gardening projects, social events and members of the neighbourhood association willing to serve on our Board of Directors. Some of our former board members have agreed to stay on, but we do need some new faces, new energy and new ideas to move forward in 2016.  Please take the time to look at our stated Purpose of Cabbagetown South on our home page.   We have several committees that need help, such as individuals willing to work on membership, social events, newsletters/website and recruiting website advertisers.    If you have some spare time, contact us at info@cabbagetownsouth.ca 

Sherbourne/Gerrard Redevelopment Proposal                                                                                                              

The Oben Flats proposal for a 13 story market rate apartment building at Sherbourne and Gerrard was the topic for discussion at a recent community planning meeting in January.                                                                                                                 Oben Flats development team gave a brief outline of the proposal to interested neighbours.  To see the plan, please click here.  The city planner, heritage planner andCouncillor McConnell then gave area residents an opportunity to voice their concerns or support, and offer up suggestions about the proposal.

City planner Jennifer Renaud advised that the plan is in its early stages and has not been approved.  We were advised however that the site has been previously identified as a high building site by city planners.  For information about tall building sites and the rationale in identifying such sites please click here.   

Heritage planner Paul Maka advised that although the proposed building site is not currently subject to heritage conservation district designation regulations, due to its location across from heritage designated Allan Gardens as well as the heritage designated building on the south west corner that Heritage Toronto rules may have some impact on the plan.  

 There seems to be three equally divided views on the project. 

1. Close by neighbours concerned about the height and size of the building impacting on their light, privacy, creating a higher demand for street parking etc.. Heritage Folks who questioned the look, height and impact on streetscape, (a complete list of their concerns are noted below).  

2.  Those who want to see the vacant lot developed but with a building reduced in height, a podium height that better reflects the height of surrounding properties. and some concessions around design.  Most also wanted to see some sort of commercial/retail on the main floor and trees and other plantings at the street level.  

3.  Those who liked the look and size of the building and identified it as geared to well paid young professional singles, couples and young families. They noted the benefits of new younger residents who shop, dine, socialize in the area.  They also indicated that higher densities would help make the corner feel safer and more inviting. They agreed that some retail space would also help bring more eyes to the street level and raise the sense of security on the corner. 

The next steps will be for the City Planner to review the comments of the community and then respond to the applicant. ObenFlats can either then revise their plans, or go to Committee of Adjustment or the OMB with the plans now on file.  We will keep you abreast with any new developments regarding this proposal.  

We would remind area residents that this is an opportunity to voice your support or concerns about the proposal by emailing Councillor McConnell at councilor_mcconnell@toronto.ca and Planner Jennifer Renaud at jrenaud2@toronto.ca.   

Heritage Conservation District Group Concerns about Oben Flats Development 

The HCD commitee has forwarded a list of its objections to Paul Maka at the City of Toronto Heritage Division and to our area  city planner Jennifer Renaud.  Please note that although some members of the HCD Group are members of our association it is a separate organization from the residents association and that the views listed below are their observations regarding the proposal. 

Their objections consist of the following points.

Ensure that the design of the building compliments and is sympathetic to the adjacent heritage community.

Reduce the podium height from five storeys to three storeys to be in proportion to the rest of the community.

Use brick in an appropriate colour rather than precast concrete in the building's facade.

Alter the design of the windows to compliment the heritage community.

Increase setbacks so the building is not right at the edge of the sidewalk by shifting the building to cover the proposed driveway on the south side of the building.

Address the issue that the front door to 201 Gerrard on the side of the house, with little distance between it and the wall of the proposed building.

The building is much too tall for the site.

Address shading and privacy concerns of residents in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood and not just the building's shadow on Allan Gardens.

Recommend a retail component to the building.

The Cabbagetown Southwest Heritage Conservation District group has also sent a letter to the developer Oben Flats and to the Planning Department saying that they believe the decision on developing the site should be delayed until the City acts on adding Cabbagetown South to the Cabbagetown HCD.


How Heritage Conservaton District Designation could alter potential redevelopment in Cabbagetown

Although most area residents would agree that protecting our residential side streets under Heritage Conservation Districts is a good thing, we need to be careful in placing too many restrictions on our main streets.   Our residential side streets remain healthy and desirable but there are pockets of properties along our main streets that are not particularly desirable for investment.  Carte blanche designation may not always be helpful in dealing with properties in ill repair, or pockets where redevelopment with newer construction would help raise the level of housing with better commercial and retail space on our main streets.  In some cases it may be more prudent to designate specific properties rather than the entire street or block.

The structure pictured here on the north west corner of Dundas and Parliament appears to be a former hotel and tavern with architectural and historical interest that would make the building a likely candidate for heritage protection.  The adjoining 1950s addition along Dundas to Heads Lane as well as the commercial properties running north along Parliament are not particularly interesting from an architectural point of view.  The residential apartments and rooms housed above and behind the adjacent properties are in very rough condition. 

If there is not enough incentive and profitability in redeveloping heritage properties many buildings on our main streets may languish in disrepair.  

New infill construction could be built around the hotel/tavern pictured here, and include a new mix of supportive housing, market and geared to income housing with retail/commercial space on the street level. New construction would likely also have underground parking which is a limited resource in heritage neighbourhoods.   Limiting development to three storeys along our main streets would make some pockets of the neighbourhood less likely to be redeveloped and refurbished and we need to be careful about what we wish for.  

When the process of designation of our area is brought forth, a consultation process and discussion around the boundaries of the HCD and the rules around acceptable renovation, restoration and infill development must be considered to insure that conditions are flexible and reasonable. 

For further information about HCDs in other areas of the city and how designation limits what can and cannot be done within those boundaries, please click here and follow the links under Heritage Conservation Districts.

 Freinds of Allan Gardens and plans to revamp the Park                                      

The Friends of Allan Gardens group include area architects and landscape architects who are working with City of Toronto Parks Department to "refresh" the master plan for the park.  Friends of Allan Gardens are looking at ways to work with park staff and planners to make the park and greenhouses more inviting with a plan to update facilities like washrooms and possibly introduce additional spaces for a cafe and gift shop. The gardens and greenhouse could be a first class attraction, but  is presently under utilized and should become a more functional and versatile city venue.

Edwards Gardens which is in many ways similar to Allan Gardens has a lot more to offer in way of a cafe, gift shop, exhibition and event space, and draws a lot more visitors in the summer months.  Edward Gardens has more outdoor garden display areas, but does not have the greenhouse with year round displays that Allan Gardens does.

At the very least a kiosk cafe, plant and flower kiosk and gift shop could be installed in or near the front courtyard.  Edwards Gardens also has the strong support of a volunteer Horticultural Society which is something volunteers could recreate at Allan Gardens. 

For info on the Horticultural Society please click here

The two large churches on the Jarvis Street side of the park are likely underutilized and perhaps those structures could become extensions to Allan Gardens.  Perhaps church halls and basements could be utilized in many different ways.  Wedding venues/ banquet and reception halls, exhibition spaces, headquarters for outdoor theater groups or musical concert venues would be a welcome addition. 

Partnerships with area schools such as Jarvis Collegiate, George Brown Hospitality and Tourist Management, Ryerson University Theater Groups and U of T Faculty of Music could help in creating outdoor music and theater performances in the park.  This would be a great opportunity to create part time and summer jobs for students and expand the draw to Allan Gardens.  

Click here to link to FOAG. 

The View from here.

In order to understand the concern about the podium height of the proposed Oben Flats development we have enclosed a photo of a recently completed building at Shuter and George Street.

There are some similarities in the site and scale of the building and it is interesting to note how this building fits on the lot in conjunction with heritage properties to the north and east of the new condo building. 

The condo sit on the edge of the Garden District which at the time of construction was also in the early stages of a Heritage Conservation District designation study.   

The podium is at three storeys and seems to be in keeping with the height of surrounding properties and is reminiscent of Walnut Hall which previously sat on this site.  You may recall that Walnut Hall was a row of Georgian style townhouses that sat vacant for decades and eventually deteriorated to the point of collapse. 

Although the 14 storey new construction does not include a retail element there are townhouse like units facing the street which compliments the residential nature of both George and Shuter Streets.

For more infromation and photos of the 02 Condos click here.


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