Breezehill Development?Fri Jan 6, 2012 Miss Vicky
Miss Vicky received the following question from reader Nancy today:
I love your blog site. Do you have any idea what is moving into the building at the corner of Breezehill and Somerset. I noticed framing on the Breezehill side of the building where there are windows - maybe putting in doors??
I don't have any confirmation about what is happening to the former site of the 168 Market, but I do know the following:
Claridge Homes bought the property several months ago, and even held an exploratory meeting with the Zoning Committee, presumably to feel out how the community might react to a substantial development on the site. Miss Vicky attended the meeting. They were pretty cagey about what we wanted to do but there were plenty of subtext and code words employed. It was pretty clear that their intention is to go high, and they were fishing around to figure out how high the community would allow without too much of a fuss.
This was, of course, obvious to everyone in the room. So the obvious points were made: the community isn't opposed to height, per se (within reason, of course - 35 stories is a non-starter). But there are tradeoffs. The story of how the GCTC came to be part of the development at Holland and Wellington was recounted. Section 37 was referenced as a possible way for the community to be open to a proposal for increased height.
(Section 37 is a mechanism that would allow the city to accept development proposals that do not conform to the Official Plan, in exchange for benefits to the community. I'm not sure the guidelines have passed yet, and they have been under development for some time, but they would mean that the kind of deal that brought the GCTC to Hintonburg - a theatre space in exchange for increased height - would happen more frequently).
There was some hypothetical discussion about what kinds of things the HCA would consider to be a community benefit for more height at that site - things like a grocery store on the main level, parking for Devonshire Teachers, space for the Devonshire daycare program which may be threatened when Full-day Kindergarten comes to that school. There was also some discussion about traffic flow and other possible concerns that might arise if the company planned to go really high.
Claridge was supposed to come back to the zoning committee with a more comprehensive proposal. They had just bought the property and it was early days. Several months have passed, however, and nothing.
Nothing except a lot of activity at the site - they took down the signage before the holidays and now they seem to be putting up walls inside and perhaps putting in doors. Me, I'm thinking showroom for whatever development they're planning to build there. I guess we'll find out sooner or later just what they think a "gateway" building (their favourite code word at the meeting) means.