'They are going to destroy Parkdale': Residents worry about condo developments
Residents are concerned two new development proposals for condominium towers will drastically change their Parkdale neighbourhood.
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Norman Feliks, a Toronto Transit Commission bus operator who drives and lives in Parkdale, is worried the two condo developments proposed for the intersection where he lives will “destroy” his neighbourhood.
“We could be having the opposite conversation, about strategy to reduce traffic and density in the area,” he said.
“I live in this area, and I feel like it’s endangered.”
Feliks believes the proposed projects at the intersection of King St. W. and Dufferin St. will not only add too much density to the neighbourhood, but will take away from the community-feel that attracted him to the community in the first place.
“In the case of Parkdale, it really displaces something beautiful, whether they can see that or not,” he said.
Feliks is not alone.
Many residents raised concerns at a meeting earlier this week over the proposed developments, taking issue with many aspects of the projects, including the increased density, heights, and expressed fears over affordable housing.
The original proposal submitted by Lifetime Development in October 2015 for 1221 King St. W. featured a 19-storey tower with 301 residential units on a seven-storey podium, while the plan for 1181 King St. W. was a 21-storey tower and 448 residential units on a seven-storey podium.
Both plans were met with opposition from some local residents.
This week, at a second community meeting, the developer unveiled a new plan.
“We sincerely hope the changes that we made have gone a long way to addressing concern,” Peter Smith, a partner at Bousfields Inc. told the group of more than 100 residents.
The proposed building at 1221 is now 14-storeys tall, with 292 residential units sitting atop a four-storey podium, while 1182 is now 17-storeys tall, with 408 residential units atop a four-storey podium.
Both buildings are also further away from the sidewalk, and feature more brick facades to match existing buildings.
“The process is not done, but we certainly think we’ve made significant revisions that have addressed the concerns that have come from the community,” said Danny Roth, a spokesperson for Lifetime Developments.
“I wouldn’t say that we are closing the door . . . , but, certainly, on behalf of the applicant and their team of industry-best consultants, we think the current iteration is the right approach to the site.”
Some residents at Tuesday’s meeting agreed, and said this type of development is exactly what Parkdale needs, while others were still concerned with the new proposals.
Lynda Macdonald, the city’s west community planning manager, said the city sees the existing properties as “being underutilized.”
“There is retail at both properties, which is good on main streets, but there are opportunities where you can still incorporate retail . . . and actually create more housing,” she said.
Macdonald said the province has given cities a clear directive expecting them “to intensify.” With transit, schools and other facilities nearby, there is a potential opportunity for the neighbourhood.
“It is an area where we can look at it and say, ‘Is a one-storey retail really the best potential for this property?’ ” she said.
Most residents at the meeting said the new plans were not enough to alleviate worries about increased density, congestion, the displacement of residents and businesses, and, in particular, the need for affordable housing.
“People are fed up with governments relying on the private market to solve our housing problems,” said Coun. Gord Perks, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“We need public investment in affordable housing right now and we need it from all orders of government.”
Of the 700 units between the two buildings, 71 per cent will be one-bedroom apartments with dens, from between 550 and 680 square feet, Smith said at last week’s meeting. The remaining units are two- and three-bedroom units, of between 820 and 960 square feet.
Some residents took issue with the number of one-bedroom condos, arguing that it will bring a “transient” community to Parkdale, instead of more families.
Ric Amis, secretary of the Parkdale Residents Association, is among many who hope the developer “goes back to the drawing board and makes more considerations.”
He wants Lifetime Development to look at the area to the west of Dufferin St., as opposed to the east, where the glassy towers of nearby Liberty Village dominate the skyline.
“This is going to change the neighbourhood. We just want to make sure it changes it for the better,” he said.
“It’s not that we’re afraid of development; it’s that we want it to be planned. They have to improve our community, not just make a lot of money.”
The plans include retail spaces at the bottom of both buildings, and three levels of underground parking.
Perks said city staff will take advice and comments from the public consultation and “push the developers on a few points,” before the plan is discussed at council later this year.
Feliks is concerned about transit and driving through the area, which, he says, as a TTC operator, is already “a nightmare.” While Perks is hopeful a future pilot transit project on King St. will alleviate those concerns, Feliks still struggles to see a way forward for his beloved neighbourhood.
“They are going to destroy Parkdale,” he said.