parking

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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David Soknacki makes enemies of downtown store owners by threatening to take their parking away

Anyone who wants to see see a small-business owner panic should try this fun experiment: walk into a shop on any major downtown street and tell the person behind the counter that the two or three on-street parking spaces outside are about to be removed. The notion that a loss of parking will lead to a loss in business is often a sticking point in negotiations for things like new bike lanes. And so mayoral candidate David Soknacki is a very brave man for promising to impose an outright ban on street parking in the downtown core if he’s elected. A very brave man.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Developer Brad Lamb calls out the “greedy parking hogs” in The Beach, High Park and the Annex

”Get with it, this is the future.” (Image: Facebook)

Downtown residents, developers and the city have long bickered over the appropriate amount of parking for new condo buildings. Now, as condos move steadily outward, that same debate is flaring up in other parts of the city. Take The Beach, an area known for its anti-development fervour. Residents say a 70-unit project at Queen and Woodbine needs more than the 65 parking spots currently slated because street parking is already scarce. (Yet that ratio is still more generous than many buildings downtown, where developer Brad Lamb says he aims for roughly half as many parking spots as units.) But developers argue putting in more than the bare minimum of parking is bad business: with the popularity of car-shares rising and parking space prices eclipsing $50,000, many spaces go unsold. The always outspoken Lamb offered a solution: “Everybody, including the greedy parking hogs in the Beach and in High Park and in the Annex and all the other places . . . they need to understand. Get with it, this is the future.” Somehow, we doubt condo naysayers in The Beach are going to take his advice. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condomonium: $640,000 for a corner suite in a mixed-use building at Richmond at Spadina

ADDRESS: 477 Richmond Street West, Unit 709

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Waterfront Communities-The Island

AGENT: Kevin Yu, Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty

PRICE: $639,900

THE PLACE: A one-bedroom corner unit in the Soho Lofts at the Starwood Centre, a former office building that’s now home to a mix of condos and commercial space.

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The Goods

Stores

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Vaughan Mills is getting a pricey upgrade and one of Holt Renfrew’s new hr2 stores

Toronto’s malls have fully embraced a “bigger is better” mentality: Yorkdale completed its mega-renovation last fall, Sherway Gardens is embarking on a $350-million revitalization of its own, and several developers have ambitious plans for the outlet malls on the city’s fringes. This week, it was Ivanhoe Cambridge’s turn to announce plans for an $87-million expansion at Vaughan Mills, its mall-outlet hybrid just north of Toronto. Construction will begin this spring on the 14,000-square-metre addition, which will bring 50 new stores and three new anchor tenants, including a Legoland, to the space, plus an entertainment court, 450 parking spots, a redesigned food court and new finishings throughout the mall. Meanwhile, Holt Renfrew is following through with plans to convert its existing Last Call outlet into an hr2, the department store’s new off-price offshoot. According to Retail Insider, the Last Call location will close on February 2 for renovations, with the new store slated to open in April.

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Real Estate

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The Toronto Star’s old parking lot could soon house Canada’s two tallest condo towers

Pinnacle’s proposal would see five new towers next to the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge Street (Image: Taxiarchos228)

The plans for a large-scale development at 1 Yonge Street, currently home to a set of low-rise buildings and the Toronto Star’s old parking lot, are even more ambitious than last summer’s rumours suggested. Late last week, Urban Toronto published a pair of architectural sketches showing Pinnacle International’s plans for a skyline-defining, five-tower development that would include Canada’s two tallest skyscrapers. Alongside the 92-storey and 98-storey buildings, the cluster would also contain an office tower of some 30 storeys, two 70-storey towers and street-level retail space (the Toronto Star office at the corner of Yonge and Queens Quay would remain untouched). The proposal is still in its infancy as the city has requested Pinnacle wait to formally submit it until after Waterfront Toronto has finished a study on future development in the area, which may not be until late summer. Moreover, as with Oxford Properties’ Convention Centre plans and David Mirvish and Frank Gehry’s theatre district proposal, questions remain over the area’s ability to sustain a set of monolithic residential towers. Although, at least Pinnacle would only be razing a parking lot, and not a beloved theatre. [Urban Toronto]

The Goods

Shopping

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The Find: a coat to make you look as dapper as the Ikea monkey

Monkey see, monkey doIf there’s a lesson to be learned from the Internet’s love affair with the rhesus macaque snapped scampering around an Ikea parking lot yesterday afternoon, it’s this: nothing will endear you to others more than wearing a chic shearling coat. (It helps, of course, if you’re also less than 25 inches tall and furry.) That’s one of the reasons we love this tan faux-shearling parka from A.P.C. With inset pockets and a concealed zipper, it’s a more streamlined garment than the double-breasted coat worn by the parking lot primate, but the idea is still the same: stylish wear for weekend errands, because you never know who might be watching. On sale for $640. Buy it now »

(Images: monkey, Lisa Lin; A.P.C. coat, SSense)

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo gossip: three towers could be coming to the Toronto Star’s parking lot

Up to three condo towers could soon sprout from the parking lot of the Toronto Star building at Yonge and Queens Quay, according to a number of unnamed sources quoted in the Financial Post. Rumour has it that the Vancouver-based Pinnacle International Realty Group will soon close a deal to build a major project next to the office tower (the paper has a long-term lease for its space so it won’t be turfed out for at least 20 years). Back in 2000, Torstar Corporation sold the building to a holding company controlled by the Thomson family for $40 million, saying it was an opportune time because the real estate market was strong. The market is quite a bit stronger now (though talk of cooling has begun), and the price will be “far north” of $40 million this time, according to a source close to the deal. [Financial Post]

The Informer

Politics

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A lot of parking tickets are bogus

(Image: Still The Oldie from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

At some point, most drivers have wondered whether they really have to pay parking tickets on private property—it turns out, probably not. The Toronto Star looked into the case of Jonathan Sutcliffe, who was hit with a $250 “parking invoice” from something called the Parking Control Unit after leaving his car in a Tim Hortons lot in Scarborough. The invoice looked like the yellow tickets issued by the City of Toronto, save a few details: the fee dropped to $25 if paid within 10 days or to $50 if made within 28 days, and there was no information about how to contest it. Sutcliffe did some research and took to Reddit with his findings. His police division told him to rip up the ticket, saying, “It’s a scam, take it easy and have a great day.” Apparently, according to Toronto’s bylaw, only municipal enforcement officers are allowed to issue parking tickets on private property. (The only exception is Impark and other lots that are clearly commercial.) If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s Google first, pay later. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Real Estate

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A two-acre lot at Yonge and Wellesley could house a new city park, or condo towers

A guerilla mural that popped up near the lot (Image: Facebook)

A prized two-acre piece of provincial land at Yonge and Wellesley is up for sale and councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is fighting hard to keep condo developers’ hands off it. She, Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray and city staff are negotiating with Infrastructure Ontario to try to buy the empty lot, so they can turn it into a park for tree-starved residents of the high-rise-heavy area. Although estimates put the lot’s worth between $30 million and $60 million, Wong-Tam believes the city can either swap city-owned land for it, or buy it outright using the parkland acquisition fund (which, ironically, receives millions from developers who prefer to pay cash in lieu of donating land for park space). A new downtown park would be great—especially if there were much-needed parking beneath it, as the Toronto Parking Authority has proposed. But the province is so cash-strapped, we guess it’ll be looking for the highest bidder (read: developers). [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Reaction Roundup: The OneCity proposal sparked lots of chatter and crowned an alternate mayor

With cloak-and-dagger plans, alliance building and power shifts, Toronto politics has veered into epic poem territory of late—and Karen Stintz’s new OneCity transit plan is one of the biggest shockers to date. It’s ambitious. It’s detailed. It looks way out into the future. And it leaves Rob Ford grumbling from the sidelines once again. If there’s one message to be had from the $30-billion kick in Ford’s face, it can be summarized thusly: council’s been futzing around with transit issues long enough and there needs to be a far-reaching plan, with a real funding model, immediately. Now that the covert plan has dropped, here’s the lowdown on what the papers, politicos and pundits are saying about it:

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The Informer

Real Estate

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An attractive big-box centre—the unicorn of developments—could be coming to Leaside

(Image: Walmart)

First it was Kensington Market that was spooked by big-box talk; now Leaside residents are gripped with fear that Walmart is moving into the neighbourhood. A SmartCentre development is slated for the plot of land on Wicksteed Avenue near Laird Avenue that’s been vacant since Canada Wire packed up about two decades ago. And, because it fronts a major street, the spot fits the bill for a large-scale retail redevelopment, according to the City of Toronto’s official plan. But local residents worry, as residents do, that the current plan for 147,000 square feet of shopping space plus nearly 500 parking spots is just too big, and will result in traffic spreading through the area “like a germ.” The SmartCentre people brushed off that rather gross simile, brandishing the results of a traffic study that says the impact will only be felt during rush hour. The big-box developer also insists the finished project will look pretty, thanks to plans by architect Donald Schmitt that depict a porous structure of red brick and back-lit glass with a wide public plaza. A good-looking big-box development? We’ll believe it when we see it. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Politics

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Get ready to pay more for street parking—but receive fewer parking tickets

(Image: jbcurio)

Local automobilists, listen up: the Toronto Parking Authority wants to hike the rates for street parking. The cost to park on city streets hasn’t changed since 2007, so the authority has asked the city for increases to keep up with inflation. If the government management committee agrees to the plan next week, street parking that currently costs $2 an hour will get bumped up to $2.25; $2.50 spots will cost $3; and $3.50 spots will jump to $4. Altogether, that should result in an extra $4 million a year for the TPA, a healthy chunk of which will go to the city. But there’s no need to shout “war on cars!” just yet—city staff are also mulling over doubling the five-minute grace period for drivers who go over their paid parking time. [National Post]

The Informer

Politics

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Car2Go—a popular Zipcar and Autoshare competitor—is coming to Toronto

(Image: Elvert Barnes)

Car2Go, a well-liked car-sharing service in Europe, the U.S. and Vancouver, wants in on Toronto’s booming short-term rental market. Starting June 30, the Daimler-owned company will debut 250 cars at 200 city-owned lots in the area south of Eglinton and between Jane and Victoria Park. The company differentiates itself from Zipcar and AutoShare by only dealing in fuel-efficient two-seater smart fortwo cars (with rooftop solar panels) and renting them out by the minute, unlike the other local competitors, which charge by the hour. Plus, you don’t have to return the car whence it came: the wee things can parked in any Green P parkade or designated Car2Go parking spot within the home area (which makes it more like a do-it-yourself taxi than a rental service). We’ve heard good things from friends in other cities, though apparently availability can be a problem at peak times like weekend evenings. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Real Estate

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If the city fights your condo tower proposal, just make it bigger

When King Financial Holdings proposed a 39-storey, 201-unit condo tower along the restaurant-heavy strip near King and Peter this winter, the anti-development machine kicked in: city council vowed to fight the tower, heartening locals who were worried that restaurant row would become windy, shadowy and characterless. But city planners now support the project, even though it’s been upsized to 47 storeys and 304 units. Apparently, King Financial appeased city staff by limiting the number of parking spots and buying the adjoining building to ensure a minimum 20-metre buffer between the condo and the adjacent towers. But buffer or no buffer, won’t the development still have a significant impact on the streetscape? [National Post]

The Informer

Politics

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Torontonians love Zipcar and Autoshare (and IKEA, too)

(Image: jm3)

Toronto’s short-term car rental market is blowing up, to the delight of companies like Zipcar, which is predicting 20 per cent growth in sales through to 2013. Meanwhile, Car2Go is lobbying the city for parking permits for its one-way hourly rental fleet, and even legacy rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise are experimenting with short-term, self-serve hourly rentals. Kevin McLaughlin, president and founder of Toronto-based AutoShare, says condo construction, traffic and the price of gas are all turning Torontonians off of car ownership (we’d add that owning property in the city probably makes it harder to afford a vehicle too). Further proving that young, urban condo dwellers are a big part of the market, the top reasons for short-term car rentals are trips to see Mom and forays to IKEA. [Moneyville]

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