Fight brewing over condos

[attach]6755[/attach]The proposed development of two new condo buildings in the Beach has residents and the city jostling with developers for the upper hand says a city official.

The proposed condos would be six stories tall and located on the east and west side of Woodbine Ave. respectively, says city planner Leontine Major.

Though the height is permitted on both sites, the buildings would have a terraced look with several storeys set back from the street, a look that Major says is inconsistent with the neighbourhood’s traditional characteristics.

The proposed condos’ proximity to the street is also an issue says Edward Birnbaum, an executive assistant to Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. He says the proposed buildings are not set back from the street which could interfere with pedestrian activity on the sidewalks.

Birnbaum also says the timing of the applications have caused friction as the city established planning guidelines for the area as part of a visioning study months after the development proposals were submitted to the city.

“[It] makes this a special situation,” Birnbaum says.

He says that although the buyers could use this as an argument, the city will only negotiate according to the guidelines going forward.

“The guidelines apply to all buildings on the street,” he says. “That is the stance we are taking.”

Some residents say they are worried the new condos will obstruct the view of the fire hall tower, says Jan Hykamp, president of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association.

“It is a landmark of the Beach [and] should be prominently visible to everyone who enters the Beach.”

Birnbaum says the city will ensure the view of this landmark is not threatened.

“There is no way the city will let that happen,” he says.

He also says the city may take the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board if the developers do not conform to the guidelines, but adds they have made concessions including decreasing the height of their proposed condos.

“They are starting to get the picture,” says Birnbaum.