It’s disrespectful, it’s a monstrosity of a building and it will ruin the neighbourhood.
Parkdale residents gave this blunt feedback to Lifetime Developments during a community consultation meeting Thursday night regarding its tandem condo development application of 21- and 19-storey buildings at 1182 and 1221 King St. West, respectively.
“The buildings compete with and belittle everything around it,” said Dunn Avenue resident Jack Gibney, who shared the sentiment of disgust in the room with the other 60 or so Parkdale residents in attendance.
The majority of community members were vocal about how “appalled” they were by the proposal.
Gord Perks, the local councillor for Parkdale-High Park who hosted the meeting at the Parkdale United Church, 171 Dunn Ave., agreed.
“I was very clear with the developers when they first presented this to me: This is way too many units, way too tall, and doesn’t fit the character of this neighbourhood,” Perks told The Villager
“These are literally a pair of sore thumbs.”
City planning staff and residents echoed the same concerns over height, overdevelopment, shadows on local parks, and transition to Parkdale and adjacent neighbourhoods that have two-storey townhomes and houses nearby and directly behind one of the buildings. Residents also mentioned traffic concerns for that corner, specifically the overcrowded King streetcar.
Currently the neighbourhood has a maximum build height of 23 metres, roughly eight storeys on the northeast corner (1182 King St.), which is home to Island Foods, Burger King, Starbucks, Washworld Coin Laundry and Pet Valu; Lifetime is requesting a height of 73m.
At the southwest corner (1221 King St. W), where the McDonald’s currently stands, its maximum height is 12m, roughly four-storeys; Lifetime is proposing 67m. Combined the condos would have 749 units with the majority (72 per cent) of the units being one-bedroom units and underground parking for retail and residents totalling 577 spaces and 980 bike parking spaces.
The at-grade commercial level of the building was described to residents by Charles Gane, the lead architect on the project, as a “better retail experience,” which only translated to attendees as, expensive and high end.
“I really wanted to get away from the ‘ma and pa’ stores and give this a really nice big extent of glass that could be divided up,” Gane told The Villager.
“I just wanted two storeys of clear glass, so you can see through it. It’d be better for restaurants etc.”
The community, with many small business owners in attendance, weren’t thrilled about Gane’s idea of a higher end retail space moving into the neighbourhood, which shocked the architect.
“I think it’s something different for the neighbourhood. I’m surprised that they look at what we’re taking away and that they’re upset,” he explained.
Gane also added that he expected the neighbourhood to be shocked, initially, about the proposal, but he’s hoping they’ll warm up to it.
“Nobody likes something new, but we’re going to listen and take the feedback from the community, and hopefully the community will listen too; and they’ll probably think maybe it wasn’t as bad as they thought initially,” Gane said.
“It’ll be a whole new neighbourhood in two years. To me it’s a great opportunity and a great chance as an architect to build two buildings that relate to each other… It could be landmark, where people could look out and say, ‘that’s King and Dufferin’ and then everything builds up to it.”
Parkdale residents were clear, throughout the meeting, that they know intensification has to come to their neighbourhood at some point, however, what Lifetime Developments is proposing is not what they had in mind.
“We can’t avoid it (intensification). But I’d like to see them stick with the allowed height,” Gibney said.
“And try to make smaller retail spaces so Parkdale-style businesses can maybe get in. You can’t completely stop progress, so while they’re willing to negotiate we should sit down at the table and get something reasonable.”
But to Gane this proposal is reasonable.
“These guys (Lifetime Developments) build quality buildings, so the whole neighbourhood should be more receptive to having a good builder come in. It shows some confidence in the neighbourhood,” he said.
“I think they’re missing the fact that they could lock this in. Here’s the chance to get some downtown flare and design coming west. It’s a good opportunity.”
But for Gibney and the residents in attendance Parkdale already has its own unique flare they’d like to preserve.
“I wouldn’t want to see it (the condos) destroy the wonderful diversity of the neighbourhood we have,” Gibney explains.
“I don’t want to see that driven out.”