Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just when we thought six points doing was great!

Ontario budget cancels $181-million Toronto West Courthouse seen as 'catalyst' for Westwood Theatre lands, Six Points area redevelopment

"(It's) going to affect our ability to find purchasers. It might affect the price we get for it." - Area Councillor Peter Milczyn on the Liberals' cancellation of the Toronto West Courthouse
The Ontario government's no new taxes, no program slashes post-recession pre-election budget carved its deepest cut in Etobicoke with cancellation of construction on the $181-million Toronto West Courthouse.

Approved by both the province and Toronto council, the courthouse had been seen as the ignition of a broader revitalization plan for the vacant, city-owned Westwood Theatre Lands at Bloor Street West and Kipling Avenue.

The Liberals' pullout from the deal means it won't be paying upfront infrastructure costs and site servicing on one-third of the six-hectare property. Also lost is the province-paid first phase of the Six Points reconfiguration of Dundas Street West.

Both will now be funded by the City of Toronto through the sale of the land.

"It's disappointing because it's another delay," area Councillor Peter Milczyn said Wednesday.

The dead deal likely means what will be built in its stead will be the full density permitted under the zoning bylaw, Milczyn forecasted.

"The courthouse is an institutional use that would have lent some balance to the development in the area," Milczyn said. "Now when we got out to the market, no doubt we'll get full density put on the property. Rather than a 10-storey courthouse, the bylaw permits 25- to 30-storey buildings. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what we see on that portion of the site."

Milczyn has long argued for mixed-use development on the lands, rather than strictly condominium builds.

"It's going to be harder to go out to the marketplace and say, 'we want office and major retail and condo.' The easiest thing for the marketplace to do is give us condos," Milczyn said. "That's going to affect our ability to find purchasers. It might affect the price we get for it. But the goal remains a true, mixed-use development."

Milczyn said he remains committed to seeing both an office component, as well as major retail, perhaps a sorely needed neighbourhood grocery store on the site in addition to the potential residential development that now seems certain.

Meanwhile, the YMCA of Greater Toronto remains in talks with the city to purchase a 0.8-hectare parcel of the property that fronts onto Kipling Avenue, Milczyn said.

Build Toronto will now shop the cancelled courthouse land and the remaining four-hectares on the site to potential developers.

"Certainly, we're exerting a lot of pressure on Build Toronto to start selling real estate and generating revenue for the city. This is one of the key sites," Milczyn said.

David Pylyp My previous interview with Peter Milczyn discussed the potential of the province not coming through with the court house that would have helped with a) local employment during and after construction b) inbound population of workers for economic stimulation c) a much needed court house for the city.

During our conversation Peter had these comments about the Michael Power and Six Points community;

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