New condo in heart of Birch Cliff

Jan 27, 2017

IMG_6114By Hedy Korbee

Birch Cliff is about to get a major facelift.

A developer has purchased half a block of property on the north side of Kingston Rd. between Warden Ave. and Manderley Dr. with plans to build a mid-rise condominium with 120 units.

The new development means that seven existing businesses will be torn down including Wimpy’s, Beckers, The Salvage Shop, Mayfair Custom Upholstery and New Energy Muay Thai.

Ward 36 Councillor Gary Crawford confirmed the new development Friday in an interview with Birch Cliff News.

Crawford said the developer is Core Development Group, which plans to construct a split residential/commercial building with 10,000 square feet of business space.

Gary Crawford“This will be huge opportunity for the community for the kind of retail and commercial space that could potentially go in that entire section,” said Crawford, who’s been working for years to help revitalize Kingston Rd., including the Birch Cliff strip.

Crawford said the developer is also in discussions with St. Nicholas Church to purchase the run down laneway and parking lot behind the strip mall.

Core Development Group has yet to submit any plans to the city, according to Crawford, and it could be several years before the development is finished.

“The development process to get the approvals can be upwards of two years and then demolition and building that usually takes 18 months to two years,” Crawford said.

Business owners upset

News of the new condo has been devastating for the small businesses on the retail strip who were told by the new owners last week that they have six months to vacate their properties.

IMG_6105Kousika Shanthakumai, who has managed the Becker’s store for 17 years, said she is depressed by the news. She quit nursing school to work for her brother-in-law who owns the Beckers as an independent franchise.

“I have two children and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Shanthakumi through tears.  “I quit studying and I can’t even go back to school and get a good job.”

“We spent 40 years here building a community and now we have to leave,” said Abdul Malik, who owns Mayfair Custom Upholstery.  “It’s a bit sad, but that’s life.  What are you going to do?”

The usually loquacious Roy Clifford, owner of the Salvage Shop, refused to comment because of ongoing negotiations with the new owner.

The business owners are upset not only because they’re being pushed out but because they said six months is not enough time  to vacate the premises.

Crawford has met with the business owners and the developer and he’s confidant they can work out a suitable transition plan that he said “will definitely be more than six months”.

“They totally understand the predicament that these business owners are in and they’re more than willing to work with them to try to solve their concerns,” Crawford said.

What will condo look like?

“It’s not entirely clear how tall the new condo development will be.  The business owners said they were told by Core Development Group that it will be ten storeys tall but Crawford said the site has “as of right zoning for six storeys that could go up to eight”.

Phone calls to the developer by Birch Cliff News on Friday were not returned.

Crawford said the developers will have to follow the guidelines laid out in the 2008 Kingston Rd. revitalization study, which calls for a vibrant, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented main street with beautiful streetscapes, high quality architecture, compatible development and economic prosperity.”

The revitalization study includes a specific policy for the stretch between Warden and Manderley that says “Council should be satisfied that new development reinforces and respects the existing development in the surrounding area.”

Crawford has been doing some background research on Core Development Group and said they have a reputation for “good quality work”.

According to the Core website, they create “…unique urban developments that combine innovative architectural design with high quality construction.”

Crawford said the developer has indicated they plan to consult widely, beyond what’s required by law, in order to build something that meets the needs of the community.

“The sense I’m getting is that they are they are really concerned about putting something into the community that fits in with the community.”

This latest condo is the sixth condominium  project to come to Kingston Rd. between Victoria Park and Birchmount since 2012.

Hedy Korbee is a journalist who lives in Birch Cliff.

15 Comments

  1. Sue B

    What do you hear about the Dollarama and old TD Bank? I’ve heard the TD Bank will be a Starbucks and I thought the Dollarama was part of the condo development. And when will this all happen?

    • Dollarama is already planning its move to the plaza at Kingston Road and Midland under the No Frills grocery store once their lease is up. Both the Dollarama and the TD bank building are for sale. They are not part of the planned condo development.

      • Sue

        Yes I heard that about Dollarama but also heard TD will be a Starbucks with drive through!? #rumours

  2. Ian Harvey

    While this is disruptive it is about time. The laneway issue needs to be resolved and with the space at the back this could be an opportunity to bring some needed renewal.
    I feel bad for the long term businesses like Mayfair but this is life as he says.
    The question now is what will it look like. The next two or three years will be interesting since we will want input.
    The other question is what happens to TD Bank, Rustico and the other stores including the pharmacy?

    • Td Bank and Dollarama building are for sale.

    • Yousef

      Hey Ian, Happy New Year and hope all is well with you!,Being 29 Trying to break through the housing market for the first time in this area where ive lived for 21 years, i see this as an opportunity as a first time home buyer. Ill gladly pay the property tax and maintenance fees, I could never afford a 650,000-1 million dollar house around birch cliff. Im sure entry level suites would cost much less before the shovel hits the ground.

  3. Jen

    6 condos in six blocks? City just want the property tax. Money grab!

  4. Jass

    Say it ain’t so!!!

  5. Janice Bobbie

    Sad to see these little businesses go to big developers. What we really need along that strip is a small green grocer — fruit and vegetable stand like we see on Danforth and Logan and other parts of the city. There’s nothing within walking distance like that for this area. When I was growing up here, the Dollar store was Loblaws!

  6. Jim Bartko

    I’ll miss this Wimpey’s location. So cute, quirky and nostalgic. Will have to visit many more times in the next few months.

  7. Don Hill.

    What a waste, to let builders redevelop piecemeal!

    The whole block, from Warden to Manderley and Lynn to Kingston should be resurrected into a proper centre for our Birchcliff village. I can remember the active community that existed when Loblaws permitted food to be sold on Kingston Road even including a green grocer among the other locally owned businesses. That goes back to 1952 when my parents moved me into the area, but it all evapourated when the food sale stopped in the late 1970s.

    Unfortunately with no major business attraction there are no people on the street and no other legitimate businesses.

  8. Muchael

    A 10 story building is just way too high for this area, hopefully they don’t get any bonus points or are able to “buy” the bonus through section 37 contributions

  9. Chris Belfontaine

    The Kingston Road re-vitalization project is a load of crap. It is an an attack on our quiet established neighbourhoods along Kingston Road. Apparently both the downtowner’s on Toronto council and the Ontario government think that having an inappropriate and massive building in the midst of family bungalows is a good thing. Who wouldn’t want to look up at a wall of concrete and steel as you try to enjoy the privacy of your backyards. Talk about living under a microscope!
    We all know that all builder’s are never happy with zoning and height restrictions imposed by the local city bylaws. They always want to build bigger to make more money so they will ask for and be granted a variance. If not its straight to the Ontario Municipal Board for a guaranteed approval. Why can’t your builder’s just cram a bunch of houses into that space like they did with the Birchcliff Theatre property across the street? Why not? There isn’t enough money in it for them.
    Come up to Cliffside and see what we are having to endure with the twin towers a.k.a. ‘The Hooters’ being built along our section of Kingston Road. Just how this is supposed to revitalize our neighbourhood is beyond our comprehension.
    Chris Belfontaine

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