Old school to be new condo

Community council gives nod to St. Basil's redevelopment

A revised plan to redevelop a Gothic revival school in the Yorkville area is now getting nods of approval from the city.

The project would incorporate the 1928-facade of the old St. Basil’s School at 34–38 Hazelton Ave. A 30-unit, seven-storey condo would rise directly behind the facade.

On Sept. 15, the developer presented this vision to Toronto and East York community council, which gave its consent because of changes to the original application. That plan, which was rejected by city staff back in April, was for an eight-storey 38-unit condo building.

Councillor Kyle Rae didn’t support the first proposal but is on board with the current version.

“They have come up with a modest proposal you can barely see (behind the facade),” said Rae.

The new design would step back four metres from the existing facade and step back on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors as well.

Not everyone is onside as some residents denounced the proposal in part because it goes against the Yorkville-Hazelton Heritage Conservation District that took years to hash out.

“We are at a loss at the willingness to accommodate this proposal, which far exceeds the two-storey Victorian homes along Hazelton,” resident Shirley Morriss said.

The site is designated “neighbourhoods” under the city’s official plan, the existing building is a heritage structure and it sits within the Yorkville-Hazelton Heritage Conservation District.

“If this application is approved, what is the point of an official plan and HCD?” Morriss asked councillors before the vote.

Asko Marajanovic not only lives on Hazelton Ave. but also graduated from St. Basil’s School. He has followed the project closely, attending many meetings. He told the Town Crier that since the city was not respecting the vision for the neighbourhood perhaps a new vision is needed.

“Council should give us money to develop that new vision given that they have no intention of respecting the vision that’s there now,” he said.

Rae said he felt there is a misunderstanding that an Heritage Conservation District means no change.

“The school left the neighbourhood with a parking lot left for a development waiting to happen,” he said.

Rae also criticized some for not being more open to change.

“I have heard many of the same comments (now) as in April despite the significant changes. They are still unhappy,” he said.

Lawyer Adam Brown represents the developer and told the Town Crier his client worked to incorporate residents’ suggestions.

“At the end of the day, we worked with residents and (the developer) got a lot of them onside,” Brown said. “If a compromise means most people are pretty happy and it means avoiding a confrontational (Ontario Municipal Board) hearing, then I am happy.”

The developer has appealed to the OMB because city council hadn’t made a decision in a timely fashion. Community council approved the application in mid-September and if city council does the same at the end of the month, the issue could be resolves swiftly at the OMB, Brown said.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Oct 6 2009 1:42 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto