Residents say they’re more than willing to work with Urban Core Ventures to bring a controversial development to the Cook Street Village.
During a committee of the whole meeting Thursday, council originally voted to send the highly contentious project that would bring a five-storey mixed-used development (53 residential units over a ground-floor commercial space) to 1041 Oliphant Ave. and 212-220 Cook St. to public hearing.
However, after several presentations by a handful of residents during the council meeting later the same day, mayor and council voted to send the project back to city staff to work with neighbours on issues of height and integration into the neighbourhood.
Coun. Pam Madoff, who was against sending the development to public hearing, said she was surprised by council’s decision, but hopes the developer will work with city staff and residents to create a project that everyone will be happy with.
“I’m really thrilled that it’s been given a second chance. It’s a really important location. It’s the transition between the village and Beacon Hill Park and the Dallas Road waterfront,” Madoff said. “My feeling from the beginning is that site can accommodate a development that would meet the developers requirements but would also serve as a welcome enhancement to the village.”
The project has been met with fierce opposition since it began roughly a year and a half ago, with residents saying the development is too high and does not fit in with the character of the neighbourhood. A number of businesses have also expressed concern about the potential loss of parking to accommodate the extra level of activity the development would bring.
The developer has made several changes to the overall design. The building height has been reduced by one metre. There has been a reduction in the overall number of residential units from 60 to 53 and increasing the number of junior one bedroom suites from six to 20. In an effort to create more affordable housing, nine units will also be available at 10 per cent below market rate for a minimum of 20 years.
Parking as also been reduced from 73 stalls to 69 — 50 for residents and 19 commercial stalls. Features such as a bicycle repair room, a dog wash station, recycling room and space for six scooters with electric charging stations have been added as well.
But for some residents, the changes are not enough.
Sid Tafler, who has lived in the village for the past 30 years, said despite tweaks made to the building, the size and overall design still doesn’t fit in with the character of the neighbourhood.
Tafler said he and other residents are happy the application is going back to the developer, adding residents are more than willing to sit down and provide input on what they would like to see.
“We want a collaborative process. We want a process which is a win-win for everybody. Not just one side wins, one side loses,” Tafler said, adding he’s reached out to the developer to provide input in the past.
“We want to sit down with the developer, we want to come to an agreement. We’ll give a little bit and compromise and he may give a little bit to come up with an agreement that everyone can live with.”
Residents would like to see less height and less mass, Tafler noted.
Leonard Cole with Urban Core Ventures said the project will still move forward and will meet with city staff to determine the next steps.
“Urban Core Ventures remains committed in the revitalization of this portion of Cook Street and plans to continue to work with all stakeholders to build a significant, new property that will proudly reflect the unique characteristics of the neighbourhood now and into the future,” Cole said in an email.