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.
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]
ADDRESS: 477 Richmond Street West, Unit 709
NEIGHBOURHOOD: Waterfront Communities-The Island
AGENT: Kevin Yu, Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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]
If 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 »
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]
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:
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]
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]