A drawing, courtesy of First Capital, of the northeast corner of Avenue Road and Lawrence. The pink area shows all the land now owned by First Capital. The site includes all properties from the new Starbucks, north to and including Pusateri’s, and east of Starbucks to include the apartment building at 284 Lawrence. The blue building is to scale for the approved development at 250 Lawrence. The properties in white are not part of the development, specifically, Royal Lighting at 1549 Avenue Road, and the red brick medical building at 272 Lawrence.
BPRO Board of Directors met with the developers of this site. It was an informative and productive first meeting.
THE COMPANIES INVOLVED
First Capital (FC):
- One of the largest owner/operator developers of mixed-use space in Canada, with 166 properties from Quebec to BC.
- Owner/operator means that FC will remain in the community as a caretaker/ landlord of the space. This results in a community-mindedness that is often not a factor in development sites.
- Mixed-use space refers to residential condos, some rental units, retail and commercial space, as well as open green space.
- Some of FC’s nearby properties include the recently revitalized NW corner of Yonge & Lawrence where City Market is located; Leaside Village on Laird Avenue, where Longo’s is located inside a heritage building; and Hazelton Lanes, now renamed and rebranded as Yorkville Village.
- An Ontario firm that specializes in urban and community design, planning policies and development approvals, community consultation and project management.
- Bousfields’ expertise includes land use planning and urban design.
- Their involvement in the project will include liaising with all parties involved, including government, to ensure the development takes the needs of the community into consideration at every point of the planning and execution.
- Some of Bousfields’ projects include the Ryerson Student Learning Centre, the development of the Erin Mills Community, and Theatre Park on King Street where the land adjacent to the Royal Alex Theatre was rezoned for a mixed-use building.
OUR MEETING AND WHAT WE LEARNED
The Board of BPRO met with three people involved in the project on Tuesday January 14 – the Principal of Community Engagement and the Project Manager from Bousfields, and a Senior Director of Development from First Capital Asset Management.
The properties were all acquired over time between 2016 and 2018. No site plan has been developed yet, but they have plans for two buildings; one set back from the actual corner to help facilitate busy pedestrian flow, and the other at the north end of the site. Royal Lighting has chosen not to sell, with the intent to remain in business as they are currently.
The buildings will consist of one or two floors of retail and commercial space, with condos and some rental units atop. The heights of the buildings won’t be determined until the site plan is developed. The property will also include publicly accessible green space, again, details not yet known.
Both buildings will, of course, include underground parking. The number of spaces is not established yet. The corner building will likely be developed first with the idea that Pusateri’s could move into it as the flagship retail store, thus freeing up their current land to allow for the second building to go up.
With no site plan to comment on, the Board focussed on expressing our greatest concerns for the community:
- Pedestrian safety
- Gridlock and traffic flow
- Green space
BPRO is not against development. In fact, we agree that there are sections of Avenue Road that need revitalizing. As caretakers of Bedford Park, our job will be to ensure that our needs and wants are heard and respected and, wherever possible, incorporated into the final outcome.
The personnel we met with were very aware of the frustrations our community has had with the development at 250 Lawrence. They gave us their assurances that their intent is to involve us constantly along the way so, together, we can help design the kind of development our neighbourhood deserves.
Their desire to work with us, not against us, seems genuine. We ended the meeting feeling encouraged that a good first step has been taken.
NEXT STEPS, TIMING
The project will require rezoning. An application will be submitted in March. The approval process will require at least 18 months to complete, and we were advised it often takes longer.
A few months before the zoning gains approval, the site plan will be submitted. This will also take a year or more to be approved, at which point the developer then has one year to begin the project.
Our next meeting will likely be in March, and there will be a community meeting in June or September. There are two major streams where we will have input:
- The discussions, research and planning related to pedestrian safety, traffic flow and gridlock
- The actual site plan including the green space our neighbourhood is so lacking.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Visit www.avenuelawrence.ca and complete the survey. These companies want to hear our thoughts and ideas. This is our chance. If you would also be willing to send us an email with any thoughts or questions you have, we will follow up to make sure everyone’s ideas are taken into consideration. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.