GIGANTIC CONDO ON HIATUS, WAITING MUNICIPAL APPEAL

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By Danielle Vandenbrink

The GTA’s tallest residential building may soon tower over Ryerson — as long as a decision by Toronto city council to stop construction is overturned.

Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said he wasn’t sure if the school would be involved in the project. The proposed building, an intimidating 75 storeys tall, would be the highest residential building Toronto has ever seen, Al Rezoski, senior planner with the City of Toronto said.

The planned location for the building, which is currently a parking lot, is the north-west corner of Yonge and Gerrard streets across from Jorgenson Hall.

It would be able to house approximately 1,600 residents. Much like the other buildings on the College Park block, this mega-building would be used primarily for condominiums, with space for retail on the lower levels, and a link to the College Street subway station.

However, plans for construction were denied by Toronto City Council in August 2006. Rezoski said there were concerns about shadowing surrounding neighborhoods, the Barbara Ann Scott skating rink, and the historical Carlu building, a valued architectural landmark.

Other reasons for refusal are the bulky shape of the base of the building, and the risk of hindering the traffic flow on Gerrard Street, where driveways would be located. But fourth-year Urban and Regional Planning student Brian Webb does not see possible pitfalls when he visits the site — he sees a vacant plot of land with a lot of potential.

“(The building) would help to animate the street instead of just having a sea of asphalt,” said Webb. “It would add a sense of vibrancy to the street.”

Yet, Webb does acknowledge the negatives that the city has pointed out. “Seventy-five storeys is a bit excessive,” said Webb. “But for me it’s not the height that matters, it’s how you design it.”

The decision by Toronto City Council has been appealed by the developer, Canderel Stoneridge, to the typically developer-friendly Ontario Municipal Board who hears disputes over land use.

A pre-hearing is set for Feb. 1 to determine how many groups have their interests at stake in the matter. Rezoski said he expects to see members from the McGill-Granby Village Residents Association, whose homes shadowing from the building might affect, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, the residents of Gerrard Street and Bay Street, as well as the developers.

If this decision is overturned by the OMB, it will be the third College Park condominium tower.

The other two condo buildings at College Park completely sold out for the price of $300 to $400 per square foot.

The developers said that students do rent some of the apartments, though they couldn’t give a figure on how much it costs. Canderel Stoneridge has sought Ryerson president Sheldon Levy’s position on the building.

Levy has met with the developers on two occasions and has also discussed the matter with Councillor Kyle Rae.

“We do not have enough information…and therefore have not yet taken sides,” Levy said.

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