There has been a rumour just beginning to emerge on the street that the High Park Lofts at Roncesvalles and Ritchie are to go above the seven storeys originally planned. I actually had one person tell me with full assurance that it would go 20+. Gulp.
I thought immediately that this was impossible. Yet there was the pile driver still noisily pounding support beams into the ground two months after schedule. My “source” claimed that this was clear evidence that they had to “go deeper” to support a taller structure.
Well, I have been on the phone with people who should know and this is what I have found: There is NO TRUTH to the rumor that the High Park Lofts will be any more than the planned seven storeys.
The rep at the Stinson Properties office laughed off the suggestion stating that the building was already 75% sold and any changes to the suites at this point would create more trouble than it was worth.
The office of Ward 14 Councillor Sylvia Watson also shot down the rumour stating that they were aware of no official submission to change the site plan already agreed upon. They also said they would definitely know if Stinson had requested such a change.
A pile driver clangs away at the High Park Lofts, Roncesvalles and Ritchie.
In Toronto, it is very difficult to push zoning variances through city hall without the public knowing since each change has to be announced and debated in an open forum. Indeed, Toronto developers often complain about the difficulty of getting a “Section 37” agreement that would allow “bigger and denser properties than normal”. The following quote from Catherine Porter’s Toronto Star article about the lack of ambitious and aesthetically pleasing architecture in Toronto is posted (perhaps proudly) on the City of Toronto web site:
Toronto councillors…make it their business to oversee development in their wards. A building might fit the city’s official plan, but if the community is opposed, the local councillor will push to derail it.
“Our system suffers from a surplus of pseudo-democracy,” says developer Stinson. “The local politicians basically perform for the cameras.”
That power is not one they are likely to give up.
“They like to be seen getting things for their communities. If it’s all done by bureaucrats, they’re not getting the credit,” says Barbara Leonhardt, Toronto’s director of urban development policy and research. “The ward system drives that kind of behaviour.”
That doesn’t seem so bad to me. By the way, the “Stinson” referred to is none other than Harry Stinson the developer of High Park Lofts. I am not suggesting that anything of the sort happened in this particular case, but, more generally, god bless pseudo-democracy.
So, don’t always believe what you hear. Right now it seems there are no worries, unless of course the proposed seven storeys already seems too tall to you. NorthRonces.com’s position is that if kept to its planned dimensions the High Park Lofts’ triangular, flatiron design, glassed-in courtyard atrium and underground parking looks promising as residence, as architecture and as a boost to our North Roncesvalles neighbourhood.