Avenue Road & Lawrence

Looking northeast to the First Capital development. Image courtesy of First Capital.

BACKGROUND

In December and January we reported on the development at the corner of Avenue Road and Lawrence, and our initial meetings with First Capital (architect) and Bousfields Inc. (planners).  Please follow this link if you would like to read our previous reports:  https://www.bprotoronto.ca/category/development

In early March, we met to review preliminary plans for the site, just before everything came to a standstill with COVID-19.  With things gradually opening up again, First Capital was able to submit their proposal to City Planning on June 9.

PROPOSAL

The proposal is for a mixed-use development integrating retail, commercial and residential units.  Here are some highlights of the proposal:

  • Two buildings: a 10-story, 175-unit north building roughly on the existing Pusateri’s grocery store site, and a 13-story, 280-unit south building encompassing the Starbucks, vet, car wash, Academy School, and low-rise apartment building at 284 Lawrence.  The south building will be built first, with the north building to follow later.
  • 50,000 square feet of retail space is proposed, on one level in the north building and two levels in the south building. Retail will have continuous store frontage on both major streets, including widened sidewalks for pedestrian safety.  Every effort will be made to include all existing retail and commercial businesses into the new site, plus many more, with the exception of the car wash.  This includes the proposed inclusion of Pusateri’s.
  • In addition to parking for the residents, there will be 150 underground parking spaces designated for shoppers.
  • On the side facing Avenue Road, the buildings are terraced back from the street as per the Avenue Study.  Some subtle architectural details have been incorporated into the design from various nearby buildings namely Havergal College, Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute and the Saint Ansgar Lutheran Church.
  • The east, or inner side of the project, offers 9,000 square feet of green space that includes a public park and children’s playground. The area is designed to graduate from the front side of the buildings to the neighbourhood homes and buildings on the east side of the project.
  • At this point in time, though highly desirable to First Capital, the Royal Lighting business is not currently part of this proposal.

TIMING

Summarized below is a very high-level overview of the next steps.  The timings noted are best guess – with recovery from COVID-19 still underway of course, everything is subject to change.

To mid July:

  • City Staff will review the application to deem it a “Complete Application”
  • First Capital will work with City Planning to get their approval on the wording that will go on the Application Notice Sign

Over the rest of the summer:

  • City Planning will circulate the application to various divisions and agencies, so that they can all begin their review process

Fall 2020 (at the earliest):

  • A Preliminary Report from City Planning will be completed. This will seek approval from the North York Community Council to allow staff to hold a meeting with the community so they can fully learn about the development.

COMMUNITY MEETING

This Community Consultation Meeting, when it happens, will be organized by City Planning staff in consultation with Councillor Mike Colle.  It will give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and provide input about the proposal.  First Capital and the City Planning staff will take all the questions and feedback they hear into their bank of input, and this is what will ultimately inform any changes for a resubmission.

The particular timing and manner of how this meeting will be conducted is unknown at this point, again given COVID-19 recovery, but BPRO will keep you informed as things move along.

ONGOING

BPRO has a good working relationship with First Capital and Bousfields Inc.  We have found them to be responsive and caring of the community and respectful of all the input we have provided them to date.

One of the encouraging things that stands this development apart from some others, is that First Capital will remain an owner/operator of the site upon completion.  Unlike some developers who take their money and run, it is in First Capital’s best interest to build something that works for all of us, that enhances our neighbourhood rather than detracts from it, so that it becomes a vibrant and successful part of our community, for us and for them.

BPRO’s focus with First Capital has been on improvement of the Douglas Greenbelt, as well as an emphasis on pedestrian safety and traffic flow.  We’re encouraged that these have been addressed with considerable investment put towards improvement to the public space and green space.  Roads, sidewalks, and parking appear to have been thoughtfully designed with safety and flow top of mind.

We look forward to future meetings with neighbouring resident associations as well as additional meetings with First Capital and Bousfields throughout this entire process.  We are likely at least two years from a final approval, with completion of the development several years after that.

FEEDBACK

First Capital’s website, www.avenuelawrence.ca, provides a considerable amount of information.  They encourage us, as we encourage you, to review their many application documents and learn more about the development.  Please provide your individual feedback, questions, etc. through their website – someone from the development team will respond to you.  The more feedback First Capital receives, the greater the likelihood we will end up with a development that suits the majority of us.

The east side of the development and green space. Image courtesy of First Capital.