Ingenuity fills Beach Hill hole

A condo 8 years in the planning is finally taking shape at Woodbine and Gerrard, a fairly busy intersection, especially at rush hour. The lot is tiny and oddly shaped, demanding considerable construction cleverness. I wondered how they’d ever get concrete poured without creating impossible traffic jams.

beach-hill-hole

I never dreamt that they’d drive the cement trucks THROUGH the neighbouring building, but that’s what they are doing. Trucks enter a parking tunnel from Woodbine, drive through a small parking lot and emerge at the edge of the new building site. Concrete is poured into giant buckets, hoisted by crane and delivered to waiting forms.

It must be an extra-costly way to build and construction stages that are usually completed simultaneously had to be done in sequence … slow, but it works.

Below are artist’s fantasies that have decorated the bizarre process of getting such a building built in Toronto. Number 3 is current.

artists-fantasies

Number 1 was revealed to locals at a public meeting back in early 2008. Objections were recorded, revisions made and Fantasy 2 resulted. I think the plan was for about 28 units at that point, and the property owner said he wanted the penthouse for himself … presumably for a view of the lake through a thicket of cellphone antennae atop the adjacent building. Neighbours were still unhappy about traffic issues and loss of privacy in their back yards.

Then nothing happened for a while, while the owner went through a dance with the Ontario Municipal Board, eventually getting his plan approved. OMB approval trumps any City objections, so suddenly the property was more valuable and the owner sold.

The new owner came to a neighbourhood meeting, making it clear that his presence was a goodwill gesture and that he did not have to answer any questions. He was pleasant and forthright, nevertheless, explaining that the first plans were never intended to be built and that he was about to create a new condo with more than 60 units. One of them will be under 500 square feet, I think. With the big increase in units, the project was economically viable. The original story was just something to get the ball rolling.

Apparently, once the OMB has approved a site, the owner is free to carve it up any way he wishes, as long as he does not significantly overstep the building footprint that has been approved. Those initial neighbourhood meetings were about castles in the air. Was I the only attendee who didn’t know that?