Pro­posed 15-storey de­vel­op­ment irks River­walk res­i­dents

Orleans Star - - LOCAL NEWS - Laura Cum­mings

Ques­tions are be­ing raised about a pro­posed de­vel­op­ment for the River­walk com­mu­nity, with res­i­dents ex­press­ing con­cerns over what’s be­ing con­sid­ered for the com­mer­cial lands.

The Ros­sig­nol Cres­cent prop­erty – on the cor­ner of Tenth Line Road and Jeanne d’Arc Boule­vard – is just over 16 acres next to a medium-den­sity res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sion, and is al­ready par­tially un­der de­vel­op­ment by Ashcroft Homes to es­tab­lish two pre­vi­ously-ap­proved re­tire­ment res­i­dences.

The de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion cur­rently be­fore the city is re­quest­ing a re­zon­ing from busi­ness park in­dus­trial to gen­eral mixed-use for the re­main­ing prop­erty. Pro­posed by Ashcroft is a de­vel­op­ment in­clud­ing apart­ment units, of­fice space, park land, a restau­rant, med­i­cal build­ing and am­bu­la­tory cen­tre in­cor­po­rated into a res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity.

But res­i­dents from the neigh­bour­ing area have re­acted swiftly to news of the pro­posed project, ex­plains Or­léans River­walk Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion (ORCA) mem­ber Tom Breuer, their con­cerns about the ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion cul­mi­nat­ing in two pub­lic meet­ings and a bar­rage of com­ments to the city since late April.

There are six main com­po­nents to what has River­walk res­i­dents wor­ried about the po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment, Breuer ex­plains, in­clud­ing the height of some build­ings pro­posed for the site.

“They want to put a 15-storey build­ing in right next to town­houses,” he says.“It’s not com­pat­i­ble.”

An in­crease in traf­fic con­ges­tion is an­other, Breuer ex­plains, adding res­i­dents want to see fur­ther mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures to en­sure the neigh­bour­hood isn’t over­run, in­clud­ing a di­rect en­trance off Tenth Line, raised curbs so area chil­dren can con­tinue to safely walk to neigh­bour­ing schools and for the city to push ahead de­vel­op­ment of the Tenth Line tran­sit stop.

A larger buf­fer be­tween prop­erty lines and new build­ings is also on the list, he re­counts, to en­sure pri­vacy and main­te­nance of some green space, as well as pro­tected, ac­tive park land.

So far ORCA has met with Ashcroft three times to dis­cuss the pro­posal, Breuer says, adding they are cur­rently await­ing word back from the city with the ap­pli­ca­tion’s com­ment pe­riod clos­ing last week.

“We re­ally do want to work with Ashcroft and the city to make sure it’s a good de­vel­op­ment here,” he ex­plains.“They’ve both been very help­ful in pro­vid­ing feed­back and help­ing us in­ter­pret (in­for­ma­tion). We re­ally do want to col­lab­o­rate.”

Ashcroft has also granted some con­ces­sions, Breuer con­tin­ues, point­ing to their re­duc­tion in height of one build­ing from 20 storeys to 15, as well as mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the height of other pro­posed struc­tures.

“But it’s not nearly enough,” he sug­gests, ex­plain­ing ORCA would pre­fer a max­i­mum of four storeys along Lawler Cres­cent and six storeys closer to Ros­sig­nol. “The best-case sce­nario … would be build­ings with a rea­son­able height, with min­i­mal traf­fic im­pacts and some great parks.”

Feed­back on the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion “has been very di­vided so far,” con­tin­ues Or­léans Coun. Bob Monette, whose ward in­cludes the Ros­sig­nol site. “A lot of res­i­dents have mixed feel­ings on it.”

Ashcroft was “very con­tro­ver­sial their first time around,” he re­counts, when they tabled plans for the prop­erty in an ap­pli­ca­tion that was de­feated by coun­cil but over­turned and re­vised at the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board in 2005. The re­sult of that case is the pair of re­tire­ment res­i­dences be­ing de­vel­oped on­site, sig­nif­i­cantly scaled back and mod­i­fied from the orig­i­nal pro­posal.

But with the cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tion, the heights of some build­ings “seems ex­ces­sive,” Monette says, adding he’d pre­fer to see more em­pha­sis on com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­ment cre­ation on the lands.“Fif­teen storeys is still too high for me, un­less it’s 15 storeys for em­ploy­ment.”

Hav­ing met both with res­i­dents and Ashcroft rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the de­vel­oper “did not nec­es­sar­ily agree with their po­si­tion,” he con­tin­ues, though point­ing to some changes made in the wake of res­i­dent feed­back.

“Ashcroft is be­ing more co­op­er­a­tive this time around,” Monette sug­gests, adding the next step for the pro­posed project will be an­other pub­lic meet­ing. “There are some pos­i­tive move­ments, but a lot more work has to be done.”

Ashcroft rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not re­turn calls by press time.

Photo by Eti­enne Ranger

Or­léans River­walk Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber Tom Breuer is wor­ried about the height

of a pro­posed de­vel­op­ment on Ros­sig­nol Cres­cent.

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